My garden is surrounded by cats; six in total, four of them living in the house next door. I really love birds and leave food out for them on our bird table but I was finding that after my dog passed away a year ago, these cats were coming in to pick the birds off the feeder one by one. I was extremely angry with the cats but instead of setting up elaborate deterrents (which did not work anyway), I decided that the only thing I could do was sit down and talk to them. The first black cat I spoke to told me to speak to the head of the family; the one who was ‘in charge’ ~ Sylvia, a wild and headstrong cat whom I had only managed to hurl abuse at and regularly chase out of the garden. Because of this, she was very hard to approach but I eventually managed to connect in with her.
She told me that she had to catch birds to take to her guardian because that’s what her job was and she asked all the other cats to fulfil a quota every week (our next-door neighbour had brought Sylvia home four years ago when we had an infestation of mice over that summer and she had subsequently had two litters, wherein my neighbour had kept three black kittens). She was very aloof and condescending and told me that I they would never stop killing – ever. The garden was a wild place and was therefore subject to Jungle Law.
She told me I was upsetting the balance of things ‘as most humans do’ and that she spent most of her days trying to put it all back in order again.
Sylvia told me I was being very foolish thinking that I could feed birds without having cats in my garden trying to kill the ones who had multiplied under my generous benefaction. She was absolutely not going to budge or be bargained with, so I had to accept that this was going to happen if I continued to feed the birds.
I also decided to ask the birds what they thought about the situation and found out that they were actually quite aggressive and all they could think about was when I was going to put out the next load of food for them. They were competitive and didn’t care that some of them would be caught by cats; they were insensitive to the needs of their fellow companions. They didn’t care about the mess they were making either. That upset me quite a lot, as I only wanted to help them by putting food out but I realised how I had changed their personalities, their way of life and interaction with each other because of it. It was a terrible situation to be in, knowing that I had created this imbalance, this upset, this aggression and this uncaring amongst them all.
So I stopped putting food out for the birds and they disappeared. The cats also slowly left the garden to hunt in other places. I went out into the woods to watch the birds doing more natural things instead.
A month ago Sylvia turned up on my back doorstep distraught. She threw up on the mat outside. At first, I did not know why she had come to me like this, she had never been within twenty feet of the back door. She seemed so disorientated and I knew she was asking me for help and then I realised exactly what had happened. Over the summer our next door neighbour (Sylvia’s guardian) had been in the process of leaving her husband, planning to take her two young sons with her; we only found out when she disappeared.
She left her four cats behind.
Sylvia has made her way onto my lap as I sit outside by the back door in the sun. She is digging her claws into my legs, pawing back and forth. Two nights ago she came into my little hut and sat on my knee for the first time whilst I wrote, purring in the candlelight. She is still feral but a little less so now she is asking me for help. In return, she tells me she will allow me to align with her Cat Energy (after all the run-ins we have had with each other); she will show me Cat Wisdom and how I can utilise it in my life and especially in my dreams.
She looks at me with such depth. She understands what I am saying back to her but she still has a wild abandon in her eyes. The slits are almost invisible in the bright sunlight, I have never been connected to a cat like this before. She is no longer afraid of me, she smooches up with a real intention, Queen Cat that she is; knowing she needs me as an ally now that her guardian has gone. Nobody will be able to tame her, she will always remain Queen.
And I will ride with her wildness.
Even though Sylvia is back in my garden she is not interested in the birds; she is more interested in me. I know that she has reached an agreement with them as she mourns for her guardian, no longer needing to provide a ‘quota’ everyday. She will sit and watch the cheeky sparrows flit back and forth to the bird table when I do manage to put a few scraps out but she makes no move towards them. Even the robin comes to sit in the hedge by my back door and sing brazenly, knowing that the she is subdued. I will not let the birds take over and become aggressive again however; the black cats have dispersed down to the riverbank to hunt and I do not want to attract them back in again. Sylvia is here now and that is enough.
I do not feel quite yet that I can fully adopt a cat. Sylvia’s dad still feeds her and we decided that we will not let her come into the house but I will allow her into my hut to sit with me as I write.
I feel excited by this proposition; the dreamworld is opening up in front of me and I know that Sylvia will be leading me into many adventures with her. Fearless Queen that she is.