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Friends of a local woman express concerns over her investment in the neighbour’s cat, who they suspect to be a narcissistic abuser.
‘The warning signs are all there,’ her best friend and psychology major, Sharon, tells us. ‘First comes idealisation, otherwise known as love bombing: Tibbles showers her with affection, purring and rubbing himself on her legs. He makes her feel like the most important girl in the world. Then comes the devaluation stage: Tibbles starts to pull away. She leaves cans of tuna and saucers of milk at the back door but he doesn’t show. Then he discards her. She waits for him at the back door, she makes a fool of herself by kneeling in the dirt and going “pspspspspsps” when he walks by, but he doesn’t acknowledge her. She’s of no use to him now. Then, the moment she begins to heal, he begins the hoover stage, where he sucks her back in and the cycle begins anew.’
‘He’s a furry psychopath,’ her sister Grace says. ‘There’s no warmth in those eyes. It’s been so painful watching my sister give everything only to get nothing back. She’s a strong, capable woman who’s been reduced to a nervous wreck, waiting by the window, buying jumbo packs of cat treats only for them to sit in the cupboard, untouched. She’s walking on eggshells; she daren’t move too quickly when she sees him at the back door for fear of him scarpering. He’s so mercurial. Sometimes he’ll beg her to scratch behind his ears, other times he’ll run away when she touches him like she just kicked him in the face.’
A circle of her closest friends are in the process of organizing an intervention for their feline-frenzied friend and warn others to pay attention to the warning signs.
It’s a feud which has simmered for almost a century. There have been isolated encounters in the past – a few drive-by spayings and a regrettable incident involving a clockwork mouse and some gelignite - but now the two organisations are going to war.
‘There’s no point us trying to stop bird species going extinct while they’re protecting cats’, a spokesman for the RSPB told us while applying camouflage paint. Mike (not his real name, it’s Samuel) works as a librarian in Colchester. ‘We had hoped to enlist the help of some dog people but they’re staying neutral. Bastards’.
Jenny has volunteered with the Cats Protection League for almost thirty years, and has no children. ‘It’s just “Cats Protection” now, she hissed. ‘We dropped the word ‘League’ twenty years ago. Why can’t you people get anything right?’ She seems miffed about something so I retreat carefully, scanning the floor for random furry friends. Jenny stands in the doorway watching as I stumble down the unkempt path and fumble with the car door. I can’t really explain why I feel nervous but then I look up and every wall has a cat sitting on it, staring directly at me.
‘Their feathered friends won’t help, you know’. Jenny looks smug, confident. ‘Bird people are weak’. A cat jumps down from the nearest wall and brushes past my leg, purring. Then another. I wrench open the door and a ginger tom leaps onto the roof of the car, hissing aggressively. As I drive away the battalion of cats nonchalantly passes in front of me, sauntering out of my path in a display of arrogant mastery of time and space, and I worry about Samuel, sorry, Mike, and his friends. There are going to be a lot of empty bird feeders tomorrow.
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