I was talking to a French bloke yesterday about cats.
We were at a friends and family get-together, eating and drinking, all the usual things, and I’d struck up a conversation with Bernard a pal of my beau-pere and, naturally, the conversation got around to cats.
I’d mentioned to him that my previous next-door neighbour had 25 cats. 25 indoor cats I should add.
I know this because after she moved out the owner of the property had to clean it up. I got talking to him because he’d spilled cement on my gazebo roof and came round to clean it up, which was nice of him.
’25 cats! Oh, the smell’ the owner had said to me, wafting his hand in front of his nose in case I didn’t understand what ’25 cats! Oh, the smell’ meant in French. But I did, so that was good. ‘The next person we rent the house out to’ he’d continued, with a determined look in his eye ‘No more than 3 cats!’
He was true to his word. Our new neighbour only has 3 cats. And one French bulldog.
And approximately 30 chickens (plus an undisclosed number of indoor chickens).
Back to Bernard and he told me that 25 cats was nothing.
‘There’s a lady in my village’ he said to me ‘Who has a 100 cats’ (He said ‘une centaine de chats’ and I don’t use that number very often in reference to cats, so I had to check with my partner that I’d understood 100 correctly. I had.) ‘I mean she doesn’t feed them all, and they come and go, and are pretty wild, but yes, 100 cats’. I thought to myself that those cats probably wouldn’t go hungry if she died, but I kept that thought to myself.
‘That’s nothing though’ he said to me and commenced to tell me a tale about a friend of his who lives in La Réunion, an overseas French department, east of Madagascar. This friend of his lives in a house surrounded by very high walls, with barbed wire at the top, and owns a team of guard cats.
Yes, you read that right – guard cats.
Bernard visited his friend earlier in the year and witnessed this phenomenon first-hand. There are, according to Bernard, 15 of them, and if you don’t ring a special bell when you enter the premises, or they don’t know you, they will attack en-masse.
‘They come at you all at once, and get their claws out and hiss’ Bernard added, while making a very bizarre expression to let me know what a cat with its claws out looked like, in case I hadn’t understood him. But I had understood him, so that was good, plus I got a free cat impersonation thrown in.
He then explained that these cats will then remain in attack-mode until they receive the stand-down word from either of their owners. Or they kill whatever has disturbed them, whichever comes first.
‘I’d never seen a team of guard-cats until then’ Bernard said to me.
‘I’d never heard of guard-cats until just now’ I replied, still trying to picture what 15 cats all attacking at once would look like, and trying to get the ‘Thundercats‘ theme tune out of my head.
So let me know, have you heard of guard cats?