We briefly became an animal free household but something wonderfully awful had ignited in My Very Own Newfoundlander. Some might say boredom, kinder folks would call it charity or a big heart. Whatever the reason, MVON had essentially become St Francis of Stoneybatter. I would round the corner after a day at work to see hoards of stray cats racing out of our house, like illicit lovers hoping to avoid being caught. Another day I arrived to find another dog being fed in the kitchen while a litter of hungry kittens were being accommodated in the front room.
I started getting alarmed when he devised elaborate traps and began to speak about trap, neuter and release campaigns. I tried to remain stoic about this, fully expecting to someday arrive home to find a badger being nursed back to health or a depressed otter being entertained in our yarden.
He spent his days making animals’ lives better and mine more stressful until one day he succeeded in capturing two young feral kittens with the intention of bringing them to the vet the next day. While they created havoc in the bathroom we attempted a night’s sleep only to be woken up every 30 minutes or so by their mother who launched a full scale screeching protest outside our front door – apparently distraught by the kidnapping of her beloved offspring. Instead of just releasing the kittens, the next day I came home to find the mother had also joined our household. Now that she was on the inside, she had no desire to be anywhere near her kittens and hissed at them. In fact she hissed at everything: at us, at the TV, at herself, her food. She had some serious anger management issues.
MYON, decorated with an assortment of vicious scratches, brought them to the vet for checkups, vaccines, flea & worm treatment and a later appointment for mum to be spayed. All of this meant they were now residents. Despite the fact that I HATE cats we had three living with us. And so it went for months on end until we eventually found a home for the two kittens.
A year later we are still harbouring the mother. She regularly throws evil glances at us, as if to question why we exist at all. She scratches our furniture, demands to be stroked when it suits her, and other times leaps away from us in terror as if she’s never seen us before. More often than not she positions herself on the couch, a metre away from me and stares at me for hours on end with an icy look that would make Satan jealous. Then she’ll stroll over to me and demand to be worshipped, battering me with her claws if I take my hand away for even a second. We haul heavy litter and food from the supermarket regularly, and spend our evenings shoveling dirty litter and googling phrases such as ‘How can I make my cat love me?’. MVON still feeds all the strays of the neighbourhood and threatens every week or so to take more in.
Mercifully he now has a busy job and his menagerie has taken on a moonlighting role.
I still live in fear of coming home to find I need to share our tiny cottage with the latest creature in need. And I still hate cats, especially now that we find ourselves living under the tyrannical reign of a feline dictator.