I decided not to believe my visitor. After all, I hadn't seen Ollie spray. I finished the last stitch of my new mohair jersey and spread it on the sofa to admire. Ollie admired it too. He buried his face in the soft mohair and quickly gave it his final mark of approval. He turned and sprayed the jersey from end to end. The sunlight gleamed on the glittering globules of urine as they hung on the mohair.
Ollie went out the door on his ear and I locked the cat door. A tuft of black hair from the cat door came away in my hand and I felt a rush of tears. A week ago 12-year-old Rum Tum had gone. I knew he was in kidney failure and had put off taking him to the vet. He had rallied before. But the next morning he had vanished. Although I searched in his favourite places down by the creek and by the poplars I knew he had gone away to die.
Now I glared at the grey upstart outside the door. "Rum Tum was a clean, loving cat," I told Ollie. "Go home. You're never coming into this house again." ("Never!!!!" is a long time.)
The siege began immediately. Ollie lived on the outside window sills. He seemed to be framed in every window. He battered at the fly screens on the windows, searching for a chink. He slithered inside on the heels of visitors. When I washed the inside windows it seemed I washed his face a dozen times. There was no peace, even in the loo. Ollie specialised in throwing himself at the top-most window. As I worked in the kitchen I tried to ignore a cat hanging in the middle of the fly-screen door. The mesh was soon shredded and pitted with holes. I soon learned the whole scale of Ollie's musical repertoire. There were the low pitiful howls all the way up to the ear-splitting screams.
We lasted two months. John was the first to buckle. We were watching TV. I had replaced all the ornaments on top of the TV set - Ollie usually slept there and we viewed the screen around his tail which dangled from the top of the set. Occasionally he had a nightmare and fell off the narrow TV top down the back of the set, making a frightful clatter.
Ollie's megaphone yowls reached such a crescendo that we could barely hear the sound. "I can't take it any more," shrieked John. He hurled himself at the window and opened the fly-screen. Ollie bolted in.
I said weakly. "What if he sprays?"
"Let him spray," said John.
Ollie's smirk was sickening. He looked at the television. "No," I shouted, "NO."
It was too late. Ollie bounded onto the TV and swept off the ornaments with a couple of brisk, efficient swipes of his tail. He lay down, arranged his tail over the screen and went to sleep.
Miraculously Ollie didn't spray again. Perhaps he was a reformed character!!