Getting to know the local cats in lockdown | Jack Marshall's column

The Germans have words for everything. The pounds you put on due to emotional overeating? Kummerspeck, or literally ‘grief bacon’. That anxiety of not having done enough with your life? Torschlusspanik, or ‘closing-gate panic’. People who could do with a clip round the ear? Backpfeifengesicht, or rather succinctly, ‘slap face’.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 3:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 3:26 pm
Bodge in all his glory

But they don’t have a word for the groggy early-morning confusion you feel when you come downstairs and find the cat on the living room rug... when you don't actually own a cat.

This happened to me last week. As a cat person, it was inevitable that the local felines would be embraced and loved whilst on their excursions away from their owners, and two in particular have made themselves very much at home. So much so that they have now been given names: Bodge and Carlos.

Bodge is, onomatopoetically, a lump. Hefty and with the kind of belly which swings when he musters up the momentum to reach anything approaching a canter, Bodge is so keen to be near you that he will sit on your keyboard, bite your laptop, or paw insistently at the bathroom door when you’ve had the temerity to close it without him in there with you.

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Carlos is far more suave. Lithe and floaty and possessing of a tail so active that he knocks the TV remote off the coffee table just by walking by, Carlos is in this for a place to sleep. He can happily turn up at the back door at 6am to be let in and then spend the next 14 hours asleep on the spare bed. Naturally, given Bodge’s girth, it was Carlos who took advantage of a window left ajar that morning.

The two don’t get on. Both seem offended when one turns up to see the other already inside and a detente has to be struck: Carlos is swiftly provided with a pile of treats out by the front of the house and Bodge offered the same in the back garden. Only then are they placated.

Having cats in this manner is the best of all worlds. They’re not around all the time, so the house doesn’t get too fur-ridden. They only come round for treats, so the cost of feeding them is minimal. And vet bills are none of my responsibility.

Cats can never be truly owned anyway. They decide when and where they go. They know how to ply soft neighbours for treats. They know how to weedle a warm place to sleep all day when it’s raining. Bodge and Carlos have it made.