Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Its stalemate at the Riang corral yesterday.

The story goes back two weeks or so when we discovered Tigerlily missing one morning. KH followed the sound of her mews and found her caged and trapped in a steel cage in the neighbour's garden. There was much sound and fury that morning as we pleaded with the irate neighbour to release TL.

The man refused to do so claiming that TL had come in and peed/pooed on his backyard, ruining his tiny patch pearl grass. We peered over and true enough, there were brown patches where the cat's 'acidic' pee had seeped through. We could not say for sure if it was TL but the guy was adamant. He was furious and triumphant that he had caught TL. At one point, he sputtered, "Do you know how expensive it was to try to catch your cat? I had fresh fish in that cage for one and a half months and your cat did not take the bait!" Secretly, I was so proud of TL to evade capture for so long.

He wanted to send the cat away and initially refused to listen to any of our suggestions. We offered to train the cat - he scoffed: "Think so easy ah? Its not possible to train the cat!" And so on it went until he exhausted his fury. Can you imagine the scene. Both KH and I peering over the neighbour's fence in the alley behind our house, the shouting (mostly done by the old man and a fair bit by KH who was shirtless and thus had his love handle firmly in my pincer grip to prevent him from losing it and yelling his head off which would certainly have made things worse), the number of eyes that must have been watching from the various houses nearby etc.

Well we were both frantic with worry that the neighbour would not release TL, but finally he did. He gave us an unreasonable deadline of one week to train the cat. Which we said was impossible. But as I reasoned with him, at least give us time and a chance to try and do something about the situation. We gave him our phone numbers so that he could call us if TL did the naughty again and we also offered to send a gardener to patch the 'holes' in his yard. He was finally mollified enough to release the cat to us.

That episode resulted in many emails to cat-loving friends and contacts to seek advice. That very day, we closed up the whole house and left TL inside - and us sweating it out in the enclosed heat. We dared not open any window/door in case she escaped. I went straight out to buy a big kitty litter for her. Back home, I dribbled some catnip in front of the litter to entice her. TL launched herself on the catnip like an addict to marijuana! Following that, she immediately sniffed the brand new litter, cautiously went in to check it out and promptly did a pee/poo job in there! The kids and I stood there and applauded!

But after two days of stuffiness in a closed-up house, we decided to let her loose in the day. After that, came two instances where we received calls from the neighbour and Lolita had to be sent behind to his home to pick up her poo. So we fine-tuned the strategy by keeping her in for a lot longer in the morning - instead of letting her out at 6am when the doors are opened, we seal up the house until 9am when its bright. We are hoping she would not do the poo/pee in the bright open day and would use her litter box before she went out. We're not too worried about the rest of the day because cats generally sleep 80% of the time and TL is no exception. In the day, she can mostly be found on one of our beds, soundly snoozing away. It is the early morning and night hours, under the cover of darkness, that we worry about. So by adjusting the time we free her, we hope she will also adjust her pee/poo patterns.

So far so good. The neighbour has not complained in the past few days.

Yesterday the gardener also came and patched up his yard. The neighbour was a lot warmer and more conciliatory in his tone. We stood and made small talk in his yard while the gardener did the repair work. I was 'graciously' allowed in via the back gate! He even apologised for being "too harsh" on us and made jokes about "building a toilet" in his backyard for the cat. Since the gardener was there and had extra patches of grass, we instructed him to also patch up the areas which looked patchy but were not the cat's doing. I think the neighbour was pleased at our gesture.

I think it was just important to be seen as trying our best to solve the problem.

We will do what we can, eg adjusting the time we open up the house in the morning, buying a Cat Stop for the neighbour's garden, and keep making adjustments. I think the neighbour is aware that we are trying and I think he not unsympathetic. So for now, we have truce going on - hopefully it will last.

However we know that we are lucky this time to be able to find TL in time. We don't know where TL wanders and who knows, there might be a neighbour somewhere who might trap her and we would never even be the wiser. My aunt who lived in landed property and had outdoor cats too, told us that after a while, she became resigned to the fact that some cats would never come home - probably because they were trapped and sent away or killed by cat-hating neighbours.

My cat-loving friends also warned me about this - legally, these people have the right to trap cats if the cats go onto their property, hence it is best to keep her indoors - which both KH and I baulk at. We cannot shut up the whole house indefinitely. The very nature of our house makes this very hard. We have many large windows and the design of the house facilitates a lot of ventilation and wind. To keep the cat indoors would mean massive 'fencing' up of windows, installing screen doors etc at considerable expense and affecting the overall look and feel of the house. I would hate being 'fenced' in like this. For now, this is not on the table. We will try other ways first.


Cory said...

my friend trained her cat to pee in the toilet bowl. i can ask her for u how she did it if you want?

Momto5 said...

Hee, thanks but no! The one and ONLY bathroom upstairs is already like Grand Central Station in the morning without the cat adding to the bathroom queues and chaos! She will live with her own personal toilet - the kitty litter.