Respected conservationist Karen Brodie has successfully reintroduced the elusive 'neighbour's cats' into the garden of her semi-rural home. Mrs Brodie, an expert in the shy and secretive animals, has been working on the project for several years.
Mrs Brodie explained how she'd managed to coax the creatures into her habitat. "There are a few simple things that you can do to encourage these animals. Try planting some seedlings in well-raked soil, which the cats can use to hone their pouncing and defecating. You might want to add a ground-level bird bath, or feed them by double-bagging some old fish heads and putting them next to your bin. But if you're really keen, add a sandpit to the garden. I was overjoyed the first time my kids came in, covered from head to toe in cat shit. It was a sure sign they'd returned!"
There are other clues that a neighbour's cat is successfully surviving in your garden: "Look out for paw prints all over your car, the carcasses of squirrels, blackbirds or mice on your doorstep, and the overwhelming stench of cat piss", said Karen's husband, Mike.
The neighbour's cats are under threat from a range of predators: old age and a 7 year-old labrador called Daisy, to name two. But their nemesis is the garden shed. Karen explains: "Only this week I've had to rescue one from our 6ft Spruce Overlap. The poor things are just lured in by the promise of rusty mowers and whirligig clothes dryers. And a bowl of cat food soaked with anti-freeze, but Mike and I don't know how that got there."
"The neighbour's cats are virtually defenceless: I've observed them trying to fend off Daisy by sitting slightly out of reach, and washing their little faces with their paws", Karen lamented. "All too often, all they have to rely on are their razor-sharp teeth and claws, lightning reactions and killer instincts to get by."
Mike is equally amazed a the neighbour's cats survival: "The vet's made sure they're incapable of breeding, but that doesn't stop them giving it a damned good go on the garage roof every night. And it's a wonder they can hunt at all with those little bells around their neck. I'm sure they would die out if my wife didn't feed them tinned salmon every day", suggested Mike. "Or if I could just catch them crapping in my tomatoes again, the little furry bastards".