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Cats, they're taking over. Part 3


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Well cats are in my past now. After five and a half years of living on a farm with up to thirty farm cats I haven't seen one in weeks now. Painting is so much easier now I don't have to fight off the flying fur and cats trying to jump on the bench while I'm spraying. It was an interesting experience watching the family grow and interacting.  They are very different to house cats. I saw three generations be born and die during my time there. By the time I left there where only two cats left that were there when I arrived.

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It's now more than two years since my bloke died, but I haven't replaced him. Within a month of his demise I noticed that the little grass birds (fairy wrens and the like) were coming back, and there are now lots of them. I hadn't realised what a killer he was ...

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Not necessarily, most birds know how to keep out of trouble. They are taking advantage of a predator free environment. I can always tell  when a Sparrowhawk is around by how quiet the garden goes. Wilf tends to go for small mammals and the odd Pigeon, but it is quite a rare event. The big problem in our garden are Magpies, their numbers have increased and they persistent and ruthless nest pillagers. 

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2 hours ago, Mr T said:

The big problem in our garden are Magpies, their numbers have increased and they persistent and ruthless nest pillagers. 

 

Same here, the things seem to have multiplied greatly in recent years. 

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2 hours ago, Mr T said:

The big problem in our garden are Magpies

The chavs of the bird world!

 

Had to rescue a neighbours cat from a pair of them the other week. The hooligans were having a right go at poor old Charley as he was enjoying a few cat treats that i'd given him in our garden. He was proper freaked by them and ran into the house when i opened the door to scare them off.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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I'd say they are more like the Millwall FC supporters of yesteryear.... 

 

Our problem is increasingly red kites, beautiful, but we had 3 circling the garden recently and everything went quiet, even the pigeons and the cats. 

We have a lot of birds, our two have realised there isn't enough meat on a small bird, so they predate mice, voles and other small rodents: when available, baby rabbits.

 

To give our two their due, they eat what they catch. Here they are...

 

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They look tranquil and harmless. 

Don't be fooled. 

 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, fatfingers said:

The chavs of the bird world!

 

Had to rescue a neighbours cat from a pair of them the other week. The hooligans were having a right go at poor old Charley as he was enjoying a few cat treats that i'd given him in our garden. He was proper freaked by them and ran into the house when i opened the door to scare them off.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

Keyboard's 13 this year,has arthritis in his neck and his hips so he hardly goes out and it's made a big difference to the feathery things in the back garden..There is a pair of Magpies but i've noticed a lot of the smaller ones over the winter like robins etc taking advantage of the peace and quiet...

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4 hours ago, Mr T said:

 The big problem in our garden are Magpies, their numbers have increased and they persistent and ruthless nest pillagers. 

 

Same up here! It's only in the last dozen years or so that we started seeing the frikkin',things up here. They've raided my garden and picked all my tomatoes a few times.

Four years ago, it was really dry from the end of April to well into June. The Missus saw an article about putting out some water for the small birds, so we did. We didn't get too many small birds, but there were the family of crows from the forest across the street. They occasionally walked through the garden, picking up the odd worm or bug, but they left the plants alone. They did however, keep the magpies well away from the back yard. So, since then, I have been putting out water and big bird seed for our crows.

 

 

 

Chris

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2 hours ago, Vince1159 said:

Keyboard's 13 this year,has arthritis in his neck and his hips so he hardly goes out and it's made a big difference to the feathery things in the back garden..There is a pair of Magpies but i've noticed a lot of the smaller ones over the winter like robins etc taking advantage of the peace and quiet...

Henry was almost 19, had arthritis, failing kidneys and dementia - didn't seem to stop him ...

 

And your magpies are obviously very different from ours. The Australian magpie is Gymnorhina tibicen, a member of the butcherbird family. A dedicated carnivore, usually foraging on the ground for small reptiles, insects and the like, but will also hunt on the wing. Definitely does NOT attack tomato plants or other vegies! Aggressive, particularly during the nesting season (Spring) - many and varied are the tales of cyclists and joggers being attacked ("swooped") by maggies defending a nest. Attacks are more common in town areas, presumably because of the more concentrated population and the greater threat to nests. I have lots out here, but they give me no trouble Indeed, I quite like them - they're handsome, very entertaining to watch, and have a delightful song. A real larrikin of a bird!

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1 hour ago, Admiral Puff said:

Henry was almost 19, had arthritis, failing kidneys and dementia - didn't seem to stop him ...

 

And your magpies are obviously very different from ours. The Australian magpie is Gymnorhina tibicen, a member of the butcherbird family. A dedicated carnivore, usually foraging on the ground for small reptiles, insects and the like, but will also hunt on the wing. Definitely does NOT attack tomato plants or other vegies! Aggressive, particularly during the nesting season (Spring) - many and varied are the tales of cyclists and joggers being attacked ("swooped") by maggies defending a nest. Attacks are more common in town areas, presumably because of the more concentrated population and the greater threat to nests. I have lots out here, but they give me no trouble Indeed, I quite like them - they're handsome, very entertaining to watch, and have a delightful song. A real larrikin of a bird!

 

 

We have these P.O.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-billed_magpie

 

 

 

 

Chris

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1 hour ago, Admiral Puff said:

and have a delightful song.

 

Not something you can say about those in the UK, horrible screeching cawing noise - hell of a racket they make...

 

K

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2 minutes ago, keefr22 said:

 

Not something you can say about those in the UK, horrible screeching cawing noise - hell of a racket they make...

 

K

 

Same here!

 

 

Chris

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5 hours ago, keefr22 said:

 

Same here, the things seem to have multiplied greatly in recent years. 

 

Same problem on the other side of the Channel. Flocks of angry crows scare the cats from time to time too.

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Google "Australian magpie singing" - there are several clips. Definitely not a "horrible screeching cawling noise" ...

(Tried to copy over a couple of them, but the system wasn't co-operative!)

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2 hours ago, dogsbody said:

 

 

We have these P.O.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-billed_magpie

 

 

 

 

Chris

That is a different bird to the Magpie in Australia and in New Zealand. Our one is bigger and more like a black and white crow. We used to have them on the farm. The driveway was 350m long and when I would walk down to get the post my cat Bindy would come with me. However she would stop at the 300m mark and not go any further. I noticed only the big Tom cats would cross this line. I wondered what the cause was until I realized the lower part of the drive was Magpie territory. I think the average size cat would have trouble tackling a big magpie because that beak is nasty.

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9 hours ago, Admiral Puff said:

And your magpies are obviously very different from ours.

I haven't got the foggiest all i know is that they're black/white and covered in feathers then soon scarper when anything else arrives...

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British magpies are horrible things and they were the bane of our lives when we lived in Glasgow, usually wakening us about 4:00 a.m. with their hideous racket. Until a couple of years ago Perthshire was too far north for them to be a problem but climate change means they have now started appearing here as well. So far the local rooks usually chase them off but it's probably only a matter of time until they become established, more's the pity

 

Back in 2003 a woman living in a Glasgow suburb called Bearsden (on the opposite side of the city from where we used to live) attracted some attention when she trapped and killed over 100 magpies in her garden. Inevitably the "animal rights" lot got their knickers in a twist but she faced them down and her part of the world was the better for it.

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8 hours ago, Greg Law said:

That is a different bird to the Magpie in Australia and in New Zealand. Our one is bigger and more like a black and white crow. We used to have them on the farm. The driveway was 350m long and when I would walk down to get the post my cat Bindy would come with me. However she would stop at the 300m mark and not go any further. I noticed only the big Tom cats would cross this line. I wondered what the cause was until I realized the lower part of the drive was Magpie territory. I think the average size cat would have trouble tackling a big magpie because that beak is nasty.

We have a few nests in our neighbourhood and I haven't been swooped in a few years now. The house next door, has a tall gum tree and has a Pied-Currawong nest in it and I rarely see magpies in my back yard. However we get visited by numerous Peewees and lately a pair of Willy Wagtails.

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Life has finally reached a point where a cat could enter my world after a decade or more as various ducks have been lined up.  This was the result of an approach to the National Animal Welfare Trust during the Lockdown 1 - 2 hiatus.

 

50834367317_40da833c75_c_d.jpg

 

I had expected to have to jump through hoops because of the Covid requirements, with specific appointments to eliminate casual browsing, etc as things were a bit different.  I was told to register via their website, but only if I could express interest in a specific cat.  There were very few cats because of the plague (contrary to national headlines) but they insisted the process was there to be followed.  I put the page into the shortcuts and kept an eye for a couple of weeks and Rosie continued as the only moggie on their books.  She was described as a stray that had appeared in the carpark of the local Pets at Home  and would prefer life as an only pet in a house with no children.  (Hear that tinkling noise?  It's a warning bell.  Should have paid attention myself.)

 

I contacted them as {in broad terms) she could be a good fit.  The only video they could offer showed her up in a Marlene Dietrich moment ("I want to be alone . . ") and ignoring the feather on a stick they wanted her to play with and marching into her travel box den instead of playing to the camera.   Couldn't blame her, I feel like that often enough myself, but that bell was getting louder.  The final warning sign was when, after my name was apparently cemented alongside Rosie, only then did a load of amiable looking tabby toms and BOGOF packs of cute kittens start to appear.  The whole process of "four to six weeks with my visiting at least once a week" had gone completely out the window.

 

Came the day they wanted to hand her over after her vet's checks.  "Could they have credit/debit card details over the 'phone, it's more secure that way, we don't have machines or readers, etc."  I am a trusting soul, perhaps a bit naive, but I do have a high regard for this sort of charity so I still go along with it.  The nett result was I travel on the first day of the second lockdown, arriving in Hayle like turning up at the Arrivals Lounge to collect a mail-order bride and I could only hope it wasn't Ting-Tong.  Still no chance of going to the pens to actually see her ("Sorry"), instead a nice little lass with a nervous smile on her face came out with a cat box held at arms length and that was it.

 

There's a big of childhood doggerel that came to mind.

 

"There was a little girl with a little curl

right in the middle of her forehead,

and when she was good she was very, very good,

but when she was bad she was horrid!"

 

That is Rosie to a "T".

 

Got her home to see her for the first time as the travel box was opened and I was totally love-bombed by a cat that was far from timid, but after about ten or fifteen minutes she vanished.  She'd found her secure space under a sofa and promptly gone to sleep.  That became a cycle for the first couple of weeks, first day or two secured in one room and then on a day by day basis opening a bit more of the house, and she would play along and then take herself away to sleep on what she had learned.  I discovered that more than 90% of the time she is very smart, sometimes a bit uncertain and wary (it's weird having to act as a cat's wingman so she'll use the litter tray) and very dependant on human company.  She seems to need to know where I am so she can ignore me.  Trips into the garden are hilarious.  She knows how the cat-flap works although she's obviously wary, she is much happier with me as a wingman, following me round as if she was a little dog.  That situation of a 'stray in the pet shop car park' looks more suspicious each time I think about it.  Things may change but this is not a cat who is out from dusk til dawn and likely to wander miles.

 

However, the problem came in that once or twice a day she would be triggered into some sort of survival mode, a real Rambo moment in where she would run up and attack me and then back off and cower awaiting the repercussions.  She knows when she's 'been bad'.  She wasn't play-fighting either.  It's hard to see and a lot of patience was needed, not to mention liberal quantities of TCP.  Breakthrough came after about a month when I realised she wasn't using her claws any more (accidents still happen, but there's no intent) and although she bites she doesn't even leave a mark.  However, she still has the "daily hate" and I can only imagine it is the result of some sort of feline PTSD.  There doesn't seem to be any specific causes like a 'sore spot' or not liking being crept up on, it's her own demons.  I imagine scenarios with people who are ignorant even if their not malicious and things "make sense", but there's no proof.  People who tease a kitten with their fingers as 'creepy-crawlies' but then get aggressive when the kitten turns into a cat with adult claws, but think they can beat the cat into submission, that sort of thing.  However, as I am not Dr. Dolittle I can't sit her down and adopt a mock-German accent to find out for real.

 

I always seem to have found females with 'baggage', in this instance she's got four legs.  Ho-hum.  The story will continue, the times when she obviously wants company makes up for the jitters.  No nervous perching with all four paws on one kneecap here, it's a full-body 'flump' from one knee to the other hip with her nose shoved under the elbow and purring like a badly tuned engine!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dave Batt
Sorting out Flickr
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felix meatloaf is our 4's choice. also its all meat, no jelly or gravey. It is mixed with whiskers 7+ in gravy to  make life a bit easier as 2 our of our 4 are pretty much devoid of teeth.

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A few years ago a mate and his wife noticed a young cat hanging around their garden so eventually let her inside and put a couple of saucers down with biscuits and milk in the kitchen,they noticed that whenever she was in the kitchen and either of them picked up a tea towel she'd hide under the kitchen table or run down the hall if the door was open,it took them quiet a while to make her realize that she was safe from whatever had happened before....

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In my daughters previous house, there was a row of two story flats at the bottom of her garden. One day when I was there, a bunch of gulls (don't know what type, but they were big, with mean looking beaks), had grabbed a magpie and had it up on the ridge of the roof, and were literally tearing it apart and devouring it. It wasn't a pleasant sight to see, but I suppose the old adage of "living by the sword", comes to mind.

 

John.

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