Old Cat New Tricks

Posted By on 2nd October 2017

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I’m a bit of an old softie, particularly when it comes to animals and especially when it comes to cats. Over the years I’ve enjoyed writing about my various feline friends. Here is my latest offering.

It’s about a cat you’ve met before, he’s called Macbeth, and this is his story.

When we bought Grassy Bottom in February 2014 Macbeth was already well established in the local area. A fully grown, completely feral tom cat, he would pass purposefully through the garden giving the impression he was on some important mission.

I named him Macbeth because he bore a passing resemblance to a Scottish Wild Cat, looked like he drank Irn Bru and ate porridge for breakfast. You could tell just by looking at him you didn’t mess with Macbeth.

Once Leonard realised he couldn’t chase him away the two of them came to an understanding as you can see here.

Being the soft touch that I am I fed him, hoping that I might make his life a little easier, but he was having none of it. He accepted my food but not my affection.

As recently as the beginning of this year we really hadn’t made any progress. Any attempt to stroke him even a little was still met with hissing and growling.

Then another cat appeared on the scene.

Leonard had passed away by this time and Poppy was now living with us. She hated Macbeth but then Poppy just hates other cats full stop.

The other cat, a neutered male I christened Grayson is a story for another day, but let’s just say he and Macbeth hate each other with a passion.

Whenever they get too close there is a loud commotion, it sounds like someone’s trying to kill both of them, but it’s only one of them making all the noise and that’s not Macbeth. He’s obviously the strong silent type.

In fact 99% of the time there’s no physical contact, just a lot of posturing, in other words ‘handbags at dawn’. (sorry about the quality of that photo, but I took it through the kitchen window)

Anyway, Grayson has the happiest temperament of any cat I have ever known and loves nothing better than being cuddled or rolling on his back and having his tummy tickled.

Over the weeks Macbeth has observed this domestic feline behaviour from one of his favourite places in the bottom of the hedge.

Perhaps it’s coincidence, I don’t know, but in the last few weeks Macbeth’s behaviour has mellowed. I’ve been trying to ‘tame’ him for 3 years, and now he seems to be learning by observing another cat, though why he couldn’t have learnt from Leonard I have no idea.

Anyway, I can now stroke his back whilst he’s eating, but any attempt to stroke him at another time is still met with hissing. He even gently head butts my hand if I’m not filling his dish up quickly enough and the other day he actually rubbed round my legs like a real pet cat. Another ‘first’ was when he rolled on his back in the sun and purred whilst I talked to him.

Don’t get me wrong, he’ll never be ‘domesticated’, he’s had a raw deal in life and no-one has ever taught him the ‘social niceties’, but we seem to have reached an understanding. He sits at the back door, I feed him until he’s full, stroke him briefly, then he disappears until he’s hungry again.

Works for me and I’m pretty sure it works for him too, he’s never looked as handsome as he does right now.

If he’d been dealt a better hand his life could have been very different, but you can only play the cards you are given and he’s doing his best. At the end of the day he just wants a full stomach and somewhere safe and warm to lay his head.

I don’t know what the future will hold, I fear if he becomes ill he won’t allow anyone to help him, but that’s a problem for another day.

In the meantime I hope he’s learnt enough to know that someone loves him, and whatever happens he’ll always be my Macbeth.

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