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Cat Flaps, installation of...

by Matthew Gaunt, Leeds, UK

Note: this article contains offensive language.
If you may be insulted by offensive language
then please stop reading now. Stop! Stop!

You have been warned!


If I may, I'd like to take up a little more of your time with another important warning - Cat Flap installation.

"Cat Flaps" (or "Pet Doors", or however they are known in your own country) seem, on the face of it, like a damn good idea. Your cute furry friend can come and go as they please. Life without a cat flap is tough, and the plaintive meowing and scratching at the front door is soul-destroying. Consider the following 'on-the-sofa' dialogue with one's partner:

Relationship testing stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. So surely it makes sense to install a cat flap. I drove to my local pet shop. Now, I have come across a number of substantial lies in my life, one of the most painful being: "Oh YES, Sir! That hat with the ear flaps suits you a treat. No Sir, I'm sure groups of youths won't point at you and shout "Deputy Dawg"". But no lie, ever, can beat the one from the guy who took the decision to print "Easy-Fit" in large red letters across the front of a cat flap box. I don't like DIY at the best of times. The best I have previously managed was the installation of a heated toilet seat. (A warning: Buy one in your own country that is designed for your national voltage. "Oh, I got up because I thought you were cooking some bacon", said my wife when she found me sighing with my buttocks in the sink.)

After a very masculine afternoon of hammering and swearing the cat flap was installed. The front of the house was dotted with almost cat-shaped patched up holes. But I'd done it. My new cat flap.

I decided to introduce my cats to it, but only one of the two that I "own" was in. The other was out in the garden making things smell of himself (a pungent aroma noticeable missing from the Chanel catalogue). So, beaming with pride, I brought cat #2 for a look at the flap. On reflection, I now know exactly what he was thinking:

The instructions said to leave the flap propped open for a day until the cat became familiar with it. There was no such problem. He shot out of the flap. I could not imagine anything could move that fast. Except maybe for a haemorrhoidal Javelin Umpire after choosing the wrong moment to tie his shoelaces.

For a few days everything was fine. The cats clearly enjoyed their new freedom, and the luxury of not having to open the front door every ten minutes was unsurpassed. But the biggest benefit was not having to clean out a litter tray. "Litter Tray" is such a pleasant, twee little term for something so unpleasant. "Tray With Gravel Coated Nuggets Of Cat Shit In It" would be far more appropriate. The different brands of cat litter are interesting, too. Some boast "appealing fragrances". So there you have it, ladies. A little black dress, some enticing lingerie, a sprinkling of "Kitty-Shitty" down the cleavage and the guys will be queueing at your bedside. Either that or you'll get a cross-legged tabby scrabbling at your basque over dinner.

The next morning I came down for breakfast and there were a thousand beaming cats in my kitchen. This was quite alarming. I am not at my best in the morning. I like to take a leisurely breakfast, read the newspaper, and laugh at my neighbour's ridiculous big stripey underpants on his washing line.

The entire floor of my kitchen was covered in cats purring vibrantly, principally around the radiator, except for the one with the serious expression squatting over my Yucca plant. Scene:

I started to chase them out. But there was a bit of a bottleneck problem. A thousand (at least) cats, with only one cat flap. I tried to get to the door, but wading through cats was an impossibility. But then I discovered the secret weapon - the thing cats hate the most in the whole world - water. With a well aimed spray from the kitchen tap, I managed to double the throughput rate of the flap. Cat after cat after cat disappeared with a soggy tail. Anyone watching outside must have thought they were coming out, going back in through a window, then coming out again. But, eventually they were all out. I looked around the room. I felt tired, and decided to return to bed.

War is truly a terrible thing. Over the last forty years there are images that cling to the soul - weary, confused young conscripts, perplexed by the magnitude of conflict, trudging back wearily to barracks... But none of them ever had the ignimony of standing bare-foot in a cat turd and having to go to the bathroom, saying "fuck" with every hop, to get it off with a toothbrush.


Editor's note:

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