Harbouring an Eco Terrorist

There is no such thing as a free cat. 7 year olds will sell you the benefits of taking home a free cat from the local market. They may have also worked out the benefits of non-direct marketing. This is where they catch you deep in conversation – extract permission for some action – make a 'yes!' motion like some deranged tennis star as you nod your distracted acquiescence and run away to execute plan. About this time you note out of the corner of your eye a cat being stowed in your vehicle and the woman with the now empty box that did contain kittens speeding away from you without looking back. On enquiring as to why there is a lost kitten buckled into the front seat I am told that I've already given permission and that this is the only kitten in the universe and that I may as well start saving for the psychologist now if I am to even think about ditching it for the trauma I will undoubtedly cause upon her fragile (if slightly scheming) psyche. I cave.

The thing is I like cats. It's a secret guilty affair. It's kind of like hiding Nazis in Argentina after the war must have felt like. I know that I'm now giving refuge to a killer. I've kept my ownership of a cat secret from my greenie mates as I know that telling them I am harbouring a tuatara killing, fantail pillaging, wildlife maiming homicidal maniac on my property will undoubtedly cost me friendships. The problem is that they're absolutely right. I decided that my last inadvertent pet feline was the one that got thrust into the palm of my hand in Argentina having survived a 5 hour car journey clinging to the engine under the bonnet. With her singed whiskers and sooty ears – I called her 'Nafta' – Spanish for petrol – because it was one of the only words I knew and because theoretically it was the only thing that should have been in the engine. I left her in Argentina and decided in future I'd plant bird friendly gardens and forgo feline friendships. Cats must do more damage than dogs to New Zealand wildlife just for their shear numbers. They seem to be ruthless and dedicated killers and, unlike dogs, they get a fairly free range. Cats are not obvious bullies either. I have yet to see some poor lost tattooed young bloke with a pit-cat on a leash in some pathetic attempt to show the world how macho he is. Cats can never augment anyone's sense of self worth for the simple reason that they are always running the show. The adopted kitten has already beaten up the huntaway and sent him whimpering to his kennel, has nationalised the mad Latin's favourite part of the sofa and declared it feline territory and has decreed that he will feed her titbits from the barbeque at regular intervals despite his initial threats to put her on the barbeque. So far he's complying with her requisite code of conduct. She has been granted permanent residency by the Latin because he's been assured that no rat will ever cross the territorial borders of our backyard with her prowling the perimeters. The problem with this however is that it's an absolute lie. Birds and geckos have, until now been shown good hospitality at our place and the plan is for that to continue. The mere act of allowing a cat to live here has caused diplomatic negotiations that any ambassador in the Middle East would be proud of. She is going to have to catch rats in the day time with two bells round her neck or face permanent house arrest. She assures me with the green eyes of a well paid assassin that she is up to the assignment. Silently I let her know that one dead fantail is all it will take and the love affair will be over. I've lived in South America. She will disappear and it will look like an accident. She nods and points a languishing paw to the titbits. She fakes innocent cuteness when the small person picks her up. I get the titbits. We have a deal.

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