Friday, 14 June 2013

The Secret Life Of Cats

Sometimes the BBC produces a little nugget of quality and interest. Last night the old flagship documentary series Horizon in conjunction with The Royal Veterinary College aired their findings of a week long study in the personal habits of 50 cats living in the picturesque Surrey Village of Shamley Green.
It was a fascinating watch. The cats were all fitted with GPS tracking collars and many others with miniature cameras , and whilst their owners were blissfully unaware, the little devils got up to territory battles, the stealing of food ( apparently a common occurrence)  huge ranging behaviours and secret double lives .

The different patrols of the village cats
I know Albert has a secret life outside the cottage. He kills and eats rabbits and mice, and so can go days without demanding food from us, but I suspect he also could be a food stealer from another cat's house, as he is rapidly putting on weight during his fifth year with us.
I would love to know what he gets up to.

It won't come as a surprise to anyone when I say that I am basically a " dog man", in nature. But having said this, I absolutely adore Albert.
The only survivor from a litter of six( the other kittens were all killed on a main road after being abandoned) Albert was rescued by a woman with two staffy dogs for a month before being taken in by the local animal rescue. From there he came to us., a tiny scrap of a black kitten who was not in awe of a bunch of dogs.

Albert has turned into a handsome, and very careful cat. He is close to us and to the dogs of course ( he is particularly fond of George who he will rub faces with all day long) but he will not approach neighbours and friends in their gardens, even though many will tempt him with the odd titbit.
His aloofness has made him a figure of speculation and discussion amongst the locals.

This morning, after his lie in with the dogs on the bed, I caught him striding out on his morning patrol .now I was all fired up after last nights documentary, and so I thought I would follow to see what he got up. 
Albert, popped next door and made his way through the hedge to another neighbour's garden when he took a long drink from their  pond. I crept down the lane and almost doubled up in a crouching stance  I watched him make his way into the sheep field. 
I didn't see a local farmer slow his pickup on the lane at first. But did feel a bit of a tit when I caught his quizzical stare as he caught me peeping gently over Mike and Viv's garden wall.
" I 'm spying on my cat" I called out in way of explanation
" That's nice" he said ,shaking his head.
I forget I am 51 years old

Albert having his lie in this morning

73 comments:

  1. Is he from NCAR? Our cat, Luna, is too stupid to be let out unsupervised so she only goes outside when I'm out!

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  2. I got Albert from the dyserth animal rescue
    Hannah...the one near voel coaches

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  3. Cats were always my 'first love,' not dogs and I'm still fascinated by them, wishing at times that I was the crazy cat lady and not the dog-lady. I think its in my blood to be drawn to them because I have several relatives that have several of them, and a cousin who has a sanctuary of 60+ in residence.

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    1. 60!
      Bloody hell ones enough

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  4. One at least of our cats when let out in the morning used to march into a neighbours kitchen, terrorise her dogs, her cats and her son and polish off the pet food she put out (for her animals). A bit embarassing really. He is certainly a 'master of depravity'. And a much loved rescue cat who looks very much like Albert.

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    1. Funny how some dogs are frightened of an angry cat

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  5. I have this lovely picture of you John sneaking Round after your cat! I don't think you'll ever be 51 really. We just adopted a dainty and very pregnant calico yesterday....we are all excited about kittens!

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    1. Kittens! Chris would need tranquillisers if I had a houseful

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  6. I used to have a cat (borrow is probably more accurate) that was a sucker for anyone who would give him attention - except me.

    He became known as the village cat because everybody had a share in him. (Till it was time to pay for his jabs!) He'd get into people's cars if they were daft enough to leave their doors open, and he once got shut in the estate agent's over the bank holiday weekend because they were daft enough not to check before they locked up.

    The entire village put cat biscuits through the office letterbox and Spider - needless to say - settled in for a contented weekend watching the world go by and sh*tt*ng on every spot possible on their carpet.

    Eventually he chose to live with someone else up the road - a little old guy with a mobility scooter. Spider took to riding in the basket on the front!

    'Double' life goes nowhere near covering it.

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    1. I would find it very had to share Albert with anyone...my pride couldn't take it

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  7. i might have to pop into your village one day just to ask the locals about you. i want to hear the stories!

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    1. Ask jason..... He has a nice turn of phrase

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  8. Do SO wish those little cams were available/affordable as I would love to know what our 2 get up to -- apart from Katinka stealing next door's cat food when they're here with their cat [it's a second home].


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    1. I wondered that too...........

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  9. I saw this on Daily Mail UK and thought it was really interesting. Hopefully we'll get to see the programme over here one day.

    Gill in Canada

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    1. It did make good tv gill
      Interesting and at times rather funny

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  10. "he took a long drink from their pond". Fish in the pond? Fish flavoured water is extra fine.

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    1. WC FIELDS would turn over in his grave

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  11. Ha ha I can just imagine you crouching down following Albert!

    It was a very interesting programme. I liked how some of the neighbouring cats went out in shifts to avoid scraps!

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    1. Much more complicated than you would think eh?

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  12. Looking forward to watching the programme...your stalking of Albert is priceless...

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  13. I wasn't a cat person until I started noticing all the strays in town that looked so hungry. They would come to our office door crying for food. I started feeding them. Then an old tom who looked as if he had been thru the war (he was the town Romeo)kept sneezing bloody snot. I opened the door and he came in and was so friendly. I brought him home and had his snipped and vet discovered he had sinusitis... so we started shots to make him more comfortable. Vet said he was a very old cat but we had him for several years and a more loving cat we've never had. Another was found behind our office with a leg broken when hit by a car. I brought him to vets and had him snipped and the leg set. Put him in a crate in the barn and took him out several times a day to do him business and stretch. I wrapped him in a towel and would swing him in the porch swing. I rescued 8 in all and had all fixed and they have been my babies since...along with the dogs!

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    1. That is really nice on your part.

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    2. Linda...you sweetie....
      Albert broke his leg a few years ago
      A brief altercation with a car down the lane

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    3. What a good person you are! I loved this comment.

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  14. I am a cat person. I could easily be a crazy cat lady. Albert is quite handsome. Whatever he is eating agrees with his beautifully shiny fur.

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    1. Rabbit mostly page
      And lots of it

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  15. I imagine everyone else has forgotten your age too John so no need to worry.

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  16. Shamley Green, John? My, my, aren't we posh. I had my first English Afternoon Tea in Farnborough and my second in Shamley Green, Surrey - mother called most affectionately by all her sons' friends "Pea" (on account of her being tiny).

    Obviously I love you and bosom and all other wildlife in and outside your house and garden (with the exception of Chris) but should Albert ever find himself orphaned please do leave him to me in your will. By the time this will come to pass I'll either have a garden again so he can hunt (preferably squirrels) or he'll be too old to chase more than a pouch of stinking high class Sheba.

    Bestest friend of mine who I never had down as a cat person now waxing lyrically about the one who adopted him - she is feral but (like myself) does purr when he is around. In fact, she loves him so much she brings him lots of tokens of her affection - mostly half dead. Emphasis on 'half'.

    U

    PS Other than that and as your readers did agree the other day: You'd made/make a splendid father. So here is title of a book I read to the Angel when he was little: "Six Dinner Sid". Sid lived in Aristotle Street. Yes, really. Sid had six owners, lived in six houses and had six dinners a day, was scratched in six different places and had six very different beds. Since each owner believed that Sid was theirs and theirs alone, life was just about perfect ... (until the cat was out of the bag). Sid had his comeuppance when he fell ill, coughing. And was taken to the vet SIX times.

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    1. You are on, old mad one
      If I die in mysterious circumstances...Albert can be yours x

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  17. Those cats get out more than I do!
    Jane x

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  18. There are times when I think humans should be equipped with GPS tracking collars.
    Albert looks like a wonderful cat. I am definitely a cat person, but my fondness for felines is presently being taxed to the limit. My neighbor moved and abandoned ten cats. They all came to my yard and one had kittens. I'm caring for them and trying to find them homes. I'm also on the verge of a nervous breakdown......

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    1. Bloody hell Jon....was your neighbour prosecuted ?

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  19. Lady Magnon watched the programme, accompanied by our cat Freddie (I did other things). She wasn't impressed; nor was Freddie. Whilst living in Brighton we always knew what he got up to; our neighbours told us.

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  20. Thanks for the chuckle!

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  21. Good morning laugh. Don't kid yourself, Albert knew all along you were behind him. Love those cats. And yes, he is a beaut.

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  22. As an ailurophile first (though a cynophile, like you, a very close second) I resolved to give this prog a miss for fear of seeing a measure of suffering or distress. If any at all was depicted I'd imagine it would have been minimal, but even so it's a risk I didn't want to take.
    (And if I'd seen your Albert anywhere I'd just want to bring him back home with me. He looks a treasure, and a very mischievous one at that, I should think.).

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    1. Ray it was strangely moving and very entertaining..... Watch it on iplayer

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    2. Okay, J.G. On your recommendation I will.

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    3. I've now watched it, J.G. - and a very fascinating and satisfying watch it was too. Thanks for the recommendation - it's good to be able to follow one of your own recs for a change.

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  23. Love it! So comical.
    I was sat on the couch yesterday morning, hurreidly stuffing a bowl of cereal down me before work and getting my dose of Bill n Sian (only its not sian anymore - nooooo!, oh well gues Susannah appeals to the men folk), anyway Laurel my little black bundle of fluff always creeps onto my lap for a brief morning cuddle before being deserted for the day.
    He caught sight of them showing the clips from the Horizon programme, jumped off my lap, popped his front paws on the TV cabinet (back paws on the floor) and proceded to watch intently! Needless to say I recorded it for him!
    He is now planning a revolt, since seeing what he could be getting up to!
    Sophie

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    1. Our Tom Cat, normally disinterested in TV, sat and watched with great interest for a large part of the cat show!

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    2. Sophie
      Tell me what you think of the programme once you watch it
      Compost
      Albert too

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  24. Oh, John~ I'm picturing you in stealth mode spying on Albert! *bwahaha*

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  25. An interesting study on cat territory patrol. I know ours must go quite a way around.

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    1. Many rage for miles it has been proven

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  26. heehee I can just imagine you sneaking around spying on your cat, and the look that must have been on the farmer's face when you told him what you were doing!

    I am so terribly allergic to cats, and it makes me sad. I know some cats with wonderful personalities; of course they love me back and want to be petted and held...and I will end up at the emergency room having breathing treatments if i comply. Sigh. Tough to be an animal lover with bad allergies! :(

    Albert sounds delightful, by the way!

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    1. He is a sweetie Jennifer ......his loyalty and affection shown to the dogs never fails to move me

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  27. Albert must have really had a good laugh while he let you think he didn't know he was being tailed.

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  28. I'd like to see the programme, too, if it makes its way across the Pond.

    I know nearly all the felines who've lived with me have secret lives. One day when i was home sick from work, i saw one-eyed Grace nonchalantly go to the edge of the front yard, look both ways at the street before crossing, crossed the road, made her way to the farmhouse on the corner, where two large boxers (dogs, not humans) greeted her. They all rubbed jowls briefly, and she marched over to the farmhouse, and jumped up onto one of the windowsills on the ground floor and peered inside.

    A few minutes later, i felt really unwell and lay down for a nap. I awoke a few hours later, and she was lounging on the back deck, quite confident that i'd open the door at some point, which of course, i did.

    Her territory, as much as i could work out, was about 10 acres, very large indeed for a spayed cat. I have no idea how she worked out detente with the dogs.

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    1. That's why I enjoyed the programme Megan.....it focused on behaviours that are only really studied in wild cats

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  29. I debated about watching the program but opted to watch 'Yesterday' -- The Secret Life of Elizabeth the Great followed 30 minutes later by The Secret Life of Louis XIV..

    I definitely made a mistake -- the alternative choices were terrible!

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    1. It's on bbc iipayer broadX

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  30. Ooh, I would have loved the documentary, I've always found the antics and lifestyles of cats fascinating.
    I was five years old when I got my first cat, a feral born on an allotment, I brought him home in my dolly's pram, and held him inside with one arm whilst pushing the pram with the other. I was a bloody mess once I got home, but I didn't care, I had my cat.
    It's been a love affair with the feline creatures ever since.
    I laughed out loud at your spying on Albert, it's something I would do :)
    ~Jo

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  31. That programme was so interesting especially as I suddenly recognised one of the women in it ! She moved from here a few years ago & I remember how she adored her cats.
    I can't imagine any one of my cats wearing the collar with camera & GPS thingy.
    Dillon the dog enjoyed the programme getting up close to the screen several times. The cats were all elsewhere.

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  32. I'm gutted we totally forgot to watch that and we meant to.

    It would be fascinating to watch what ours get up to each night, but we do get to spy on them a bit during the day when they team up and hunt together. Nothing's safe when Ginger and Archie are about :-(

    I can't get out of my head the image of you following your cat, nipping from hedge to hedge, lamppost to lamppost like you see in comedy and bad cop films :-)

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  33. Shelter animals make the best pets.
    Haha. Wish I could have watched you spy on him. ;-)
    Maybe you can get him a little wireless camera and give him a blog, too.

    Have a wonderful weekend, John! :-)

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  34. What is more John, I expect that Albert knew you were there the whole time. As for your eccentricity - I for one would not have it any other way.

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  35. I wish I had a Nanny Cam so I would know what the dogs do when I'm gone. Do they drink a bottle of wine and watch a movie? Do they curse me for my absence, albeit brief? Do they let other dogs in the house for a party? Scout knows how to unlock doors and open them. He also knows how to lock doors and once locked me out of the house. Cheeky bugger.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I think that my dogs spend most of their time on the phone...looking at the size of the bill

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  36. I always knew cats had broad territories, but this is impressive.

    Albert probably didn't give your actions a single thought.

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  37. When you say you're basically a "dog man" does that mean you are heavily into dogging?
    I have often wondered about the nocturnal ramblings of cats and I wish I had seen that documentary. I might try to catch it on i-player when I get home.

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  38. HA! I can just imagine you getting caught peeking through the hedges at your cat. Don't ever change, no matter how old you are.

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  39. Other cats periodically come through the catflap inot the kitchen at night to steal food. Misty is usually comatose for the night and couldn't care less, and Hobie (the ginger tom!), is so scared that he just pisses everywhere thinking that his scent should do the trick. It doesn't, but the kitchen stinks. Can you believe that I heard a neighbours cat one night, crept out the front door in my underpants, and waited outside the catflap with a hosepipe for when the thief exited?

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  40. Roaming cats kill 1.5 BILLION birds in North America alone each year; that's why our are strictly indoors. Plus, when our cats kill and eat the occasional mouse that gets into the house, they inevitably vomit.

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  41. We are temporarily petless. It is horrible.

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  42. Bah I wish I had seen the programme, we might get it here in NZ eventually. My Toby looks very much like your Albert John. We live in a cul de sac and behind us after the local bowling green is the river. My Toby hoofs it over the fence and trolls over the farmland to the river, we think he must swim across it as he often comes home absolutely soaking wet even when it hasn't been raining. We get presents left for us under the dining room table often. Once I came home from work and there was a bloody eel still half alive deposited there for me to find. We have had wading birds in their entirety and then just a leg! I don't know how he does it. I wish I could buy a tracking collar for him it would be brilliant to see where he goes. The other Archie is just as bad, Basil is a home body, never happier when patrolling the section looking for invaders. He spends his life laying in front of the fire in the winter, so close I have smelt his fur burning and have had to flop him over to the other side lol.

    And on the subject of age, isn't there a saying you're as old as you feel? and another bit (or as old as the person you're feeling?)

    Don't ever change, it's why I keep coming back.

    Jo in NZ

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  43. You sound normal to me :)

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