A film is playing on the TV and the slippers are on.  A cool wind gusts through the open patio-style door, through which the plants are moving grey-black shapes in the darkness.  A furry face pushes its way through the billowing curtains. 

‘Here he is, look.’

I’ve been waiting for my two cats to come in from the grassy area outside my ground floor flat.  They’ve been house cats for a year and they’re now getting used to the extra freedom I, through my guilt, have recently been granting them.  Lately they’ve been enjoying the exploration so much that they’re gone for hours.

The cat in the window leans inside, putting two paws on the skirting ledge.  A little nose twitches.  Then he turns to me.

‘That’s not my cat!’

No, it really isn’t.

A strange cat has just walked into my home.

This one has a splash of black pigment on its nose and lip, which are as white as the curtains.  For a second, I’m stunned that this has happened.  I haven’t been this shocked since the decorator painted my front door shut (No, really).

My exclamation has scared him, and the furry face disappears again.   

Maybe it was Oscar with a bit of dirt on his face?

He comes back.  Twitching nose.  Ears swivelling like little SETI dishes.  It’s definitely not my cat.

A feeling of indignation comes over me.  How dare it!?  Conversely, I’m also rather pleased.  Presumably from outside, my little flat seems appealing to the scruffy tom.

And before I know it, he’s stepped inside.  Disappeared behind the armchair in the corner.  In a flash I see the spot of white on the very tip of his tail.

I know this cat.  I see him in the car park occasionally, usually crouched under a Citroen peering out at me with his little yellow round eyes.  He doesn’t seem like a stray, although I’ve never caught a glimpse of a collar on him.  He could belong to anyone or no-one.

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When I was a student I lived in a shared house in Leeds.  A skinny ginger-and-white mog one of us affectionately named Necrobutcher used to wander in from time to time, rub his strawlike fur all over our beds, cock his leg at my washing and eat half our food.  One time I was wrapping something up in clingfilm with Necrobutcher purring round my legs.  To his little green eyes, the strip of clingfilm in my hand was a glittering, magical object of wonder that he simply wanted and wanted immediately.  The little fucker leapt vertically, sank his narrow flick-knives into my hand, and promptly got the toe of my shoe in his ribs.

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The slightly worrying thing the strange cat in my flat is that our bin-yard had its door kicked in by the little shits down the road one week, and stray cats have since taken up residency in it.  There was a presumably flea-ridden armchair – a whole armchair – in one dark corner that they liked to sit on.  Presumably the smell of the filth in the split bin-bags was alluring.  I’ve seen as many as four cats in there at once.

The door has since been fixed … But somehow they still get in.
I don’t know if white-tip is a stray, or if he consorts with these hobo-tabbies during his adventures.  But many of us have heard the song.

Fuck you kitty, you’re gonna spend the night–

Fuck you kitty, you’re gonna spend the night–

Fuck you kitty, you’re gonna spend the night–

OUT.  SIDE.

–db

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