I have a cat problem. Or, more accurately, a cat-shit problem. Every morning, I discover that a neighbourhood cat has made use of the same small corner of my garden for its overnight litter tray.
Now, I am only presuming it is a cat. I have never actually seen the dead-of-night defecator, and I am not such an ardent naturalist to be able to identify one furry critter’s stool from another. My crapping culprit could be a fox. Could be a large squirrel. Could be a small human. But, my money is on a cat.
I have no problem with cats per se. Under most social circumstances, I find their company preferable to otherwise but, when it comes to their freewheeling liberal toilet behaviour I take exception.
What to do?
My mind runs to the extreme; making my garden a virtual no-go zone by constructing a series of cat-size pitfalls, punji sticks and booby traps, which would not do disservice to the Viet Cong, but I realise there are numerous physical and ethical drawbacks to this approach.
Instead, I search online for possible solutions. Numerous––expensive––cat deterrent devices are available for purchase, but I am not prepared to throw money at the problem. I want a more natural––inexpensive––solution. I discover that cats are not particularly keen on certain smells: citrus; coffee. However, I baulk at the idea of laying on a nice glass of OJ followed by a cup of skinny latte for my feline incontinent intruder, when it seems more like a reward than a punishment.
In the end, I decide upon a compromise between natural integrity and mechanical ingenuity. A scarecrow. Or, in this case, a scare-cat. I call her No Shit Shirley.
It is with a mixture of pride and trepidation that I plant NS Shirley at her allotted sentry post; pride, knowing the gravitas of the task she is undertaking; trepidation of her prospects of surviving the terrors of the long suburban night.
I wake early next morning; rush to the garden to see how Shirley has fared. There she stands, unscathed, alert and dutiful and, more to the point, faecal-free.
NS Shirley has won her first skirmish, but neither of us are under any illusions. This is a war of attrition and, for me, the cat, and NS Shirley the battle will continue.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree salutes Shirley’s first victory.