Catfood & Dogfood

 Silly Stumpy drinking rain water from one of the patio pots
Stumpy Quenching her Thirst

Cat and dog feeding in our house is rather complicated. There is a routine - the bowls are laid out on the bench, and Sifter (spoilt cat) is allowed to "supervise". Different cats are fed in different places (Mugsy often gets her cat-food in the hot water cupboard, to help her concentrate).

Taj-dog gets to do the rounds and clean up all the leftovers, which he considers much more appetising than his own dog roll. He certainly enjoys his nightly zoom around the outside of the house checking the cat bowls.

Gourmet Dog

I think that Taj-dog considers himself a gourmet dog. He certainly ignores whatever is put in his bowl until a cat arrives and takes an interest. Then he growls and snaps, defending the bowl's contents as the most tasty dog-treats imaginable. He buries his dog biscuits outside, waiting for them to ripen in flavour. They must be a great disappointment to him when he digs them up two months later.

 Nine Cat Bowls
Which one will Stumpy the Grey choose?

Mugsy the cat has a few teeth missing as a result of her road accident. When she eats her tea quite a lot of it falls out. Mugsy also is easily distracted, and can forget she's supposed to be eating. The opportunist grey cats often work a tag team on her - one will distract her while the other pinches her food. Mugsy chooses her between meal snacks by texture, as she has no taste or smell. Tomatoes, banana skins and avocados are often found with teeth marks in them and bits missing.

Feline Vacuum Cleaners

The grey cats are the house vacuum cleaners. They never give up trying to pinch food, even Taj-dog's dog biscuits. They squeal with delight whenever the fridge door is opened. They bust into the pantry if ever left unsupervised in the kitchen. To hear them howling at feeding time, you'd think they were starving.

 In an average week Big Fat Sifter will catch 5 rodents and a bird.
A Big Fat Sifter Paw

Sifter - A Stomach on Legs

Sifter Cat is a stomach on legs, and will eat anything that he sees a human eat. This appears to be how he makes his judgment on in-house food. If it's on your plate, then he's interested, and has sneaky feline ways of creeping up and slowly reaching out a well aimed cat paw. He has a proud hunting record in the house, having caught many hot chips and muffins. The sight of a huge tabby growling in triumph and teasing a half dead muffin is quite something.

Sifter is also a supreme rodent catcher. There is an accompanying ritual - he brings the sad mouse, often still alive, to the patio, howls for an audience, and when you arrive he swallows the mouse whole, head first. It's hard to watch.

Sifter is the cat most responsible for keeping the rabbit population down. When he arrives with a rabbit dangling from his jaws, I intervene (not in the nicest way, so please don't read on if you are a rabbit person). I put on my most greasy cat-praise voice, while subtly gesticulating to Taj-dog to join me at the door. As soon as I have Taj-dog close by and focussed, I let him go. He snatches the rabbit, and his instinct takes over. The kill is swift and clean. Sifter, who gets pushed aside, usually growls a bit, and I insincerely tell him how sorry I am that he "lost" his rabbit.

 The resident Cats lining up for breakfast on the patio.
Waiting for Breakfast

There's another time I blatantly lie to Sifter, and that's when he turns up with a bird in his mouth. This time I am full of false praise, as I try to get close enough to rescue the bird. It often works, the bird is whisked away to recover, and then I lay it on thick - how sorry I am that he "lost" his birdie, never mind, you know the sort of things. I think I fool him.

 An uneasy calm descends on the kitchen floor...
Cat Trio Eating

Mugsy and the Duckling

Mugsy the cat has only once caught anything - a very small duckling which was very dead anyway. The grey cats brought in a puzzled frog once, which made a very strange noise on the kitchen floor and was promptly returned to the pond. I've seen Jerome lurking by the pond, trying to sneak up on a croaking frog. The funny thing is that each summer I start off with 3 or 4 frogs, who croak for 3 or 4 weeks and then seem to disappear. I just hope that they hop over to next door's pond.

To ensure cat company in the garden I use a few sneaky tricks. I fill a pocket with dried cat food, making sure that the packet is rattled loudly. All cats are then evicted from the house, assembled on the patio, and off we go. The dried cat shapes are tasty and I suspect over salty, but whenever cat company is required they're perfect.