Brits have a reputation for being pet lovers and that’s great. I quite like dogs, when they’re not fierce-looking brutes who jump on me and clart my clothes with muddy paw-marks. And I don’t mind cats when they’re in someone else’s house and being all nice, fluffy, and purry. But what drives me mental is all the pooh involved.
If you’ve read the article about boating in France, you’ll already know that I dislike handling dog pooh on boat-ropes [oops, I’ve given the game away – you thought that was written by Anne Ominous]. Dog pooh isn’t such a problem in Britain now as the laws are much stricter about it. Like in the USA, British dog owners must buy “poop-scoops” and use them or they are liable to be fined. It seems that most behave responsibly.
After that holiday in France, I wrote to a friend in Thailand about the horrendous amount of dog turds on the otherwise beautiful streets of French towns and cities. I got the response that Soi # would win the world prize for being the dirtiest street in that category. Now that the UK is in the process of implementing a passport for pets scheme, I can see all kinds of problems arising. Oh wow, I can just imagine the emails I’m going to receive telling me I am a xenophobic, bigoted, racist wotsit. BUT! I believe that most Brits will behave reasonably but the French are so mad about dogs that I think they’ll drive even a nation of pet lovers to pet-rage.
Not only do I not like treading in their excrement, I also do not enjoy taking a seat that was last occupied by a moulting mutt. Enough said about dogs because, believe it or not, I do actually quite like some of them. Having spent many happy times as a child on a farm in darkest Aberdeenshire, I’ve always liked the collie sheep-dog. Labradors are nice too.
Apparently, when the Blue Peter dog Shep died, John Noakes cried on television and some stupid gits slagged him off for that. How pathetic. When you lose a pet like that, it’s like losing a family member and it seems pretty normal to me to cry about it. As I said about half a page ago – enough about dogs… Cats are a different matter.
Dog owners are by law obliged to be responsible for their pets but cats are a law unto themselves. It seems that it’s perfectly acceptable for anyone’s cat to crap in your garden. I used to subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine but they lost their appeal for me when they dumbed down and started writing stuff saying how you must follow their recipes exactly (as a trained chef with City & Guilds qualifications – something I did as a hobby – I’ve never measured anything and certainly didn’t intend to start because they told me to). The final straw for me was when the monthly editorial was about cats. I wrote to the editor saying that, as a keen kitchen gardener, I considered any creature which defecated on my food to be vermin. I got a letter back saying that the stuff about cats had generated more positive response than anything else in the magazine that month. Arrghh!
There was an article in the news recently where a man just got so frustrated with this kind of cat problem that he set some horrendous traps made out of carpet grippers and murdered a neighbour’s cat. That’s clearly not the best answer. I bought a machine gun – OK, a high-powered water pistol – and have now managed to train most of the neighbourhood cats (although I thought that cats weren’t trainable) to flee when they hear the back door being unlocked. So I’m missing out on the fun of shooting them now.
Finally, before you write in to tell me how cruel I am, I was interested to note in The Times after the article about the guy who murdered the cat, a piece about deterrents written by the RSPCA. They recommend that you shoot them – with a water pistol. So I’m not such a bad person really.
Response: (June 2000)
By someone who is too afraid of his neighbour to give his name
I too have a problem with cats in my garden. I also have a water pistol at the ready, but the damned cats always hear me before I can get close enough. There is a myth that cats bury their crap. My neighbours’ cats would rather deposit it in the grass. If I don’t cut the grass often enough I don’t see it in time and it is spread over my shoes and the rest of the garden by my Flymo.
I mentioned that cats are a nuisance, to one of my neighbours. She was quite annoyed and defended her right to have a cat. I defend my right to have a crap-free garden. She told me that she would report me to the RSPCA if I put netting around the top of my fence. I laughed and asked how she felt about me taking my daily dump on her lawn. She doesn’t speak to me now.
An argument for keeping cats is one of pest control: “Cats catch mice”. That doesn’t work on me. Rentokil remove mice, rats and other pests but they do not poop in your neighbour’s garden, kill the visitors to your bird bath or keep you awake at night by fighting in the middle of the road (not as company policy anyway).
Response: (July 2000)
Having spent four winters in Budapest, I can tell you that dog excrement is more of a problem. Imagine the scene. Several feet of virgin white snow, covered in dog turds. And it gets worse. The thaw does not arrive and neither does more snow. Unfortunately, the dogs do not cease to defecate.
On the other hand: Imagine another scene. A house-bound cat. Winter in Belgrade. Four feet of snow on the balcony. Just the place to scoop a small hole and do your business – until the unseasonal thaw sets in. I don’t know who was more horrified at finding a small pile of ancient cat turds – me or the cat!
Take your pick. Animals shit.
But at least cats try to bury it!
Does pet pooh drive you mad? Have you got a surefire solution for keeping cats off your garden? Why not comment and tell us?