Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Street stories - meeting the Assistant Cat Lady

I met the Assistant Cat Lady over Christmas on one of my walks. I have been trying to keep my walks up, driven by the little pedometer on my belt. My target is 10,000 paces a day, but that's actually quite difficult to achieve. Still, I continue to try.

I came around the top of the street and there was a much older lady walking her dog. I knew her by sight,. I know all the regular walkers by sight, and had always said hello. This time we stopped for a chat, encouraged by her dog who clearly required a pat. That was how I learned the story of the Cat - and possum - Lady.

The Assistant Cat Lady explained that over Christmas she had spent time helping a friend feed her cats, something that had become a regular pattern. This was clearly significant, I could see in my mind that cats was in capital letters, so I asked how many. Well, my friend said, it started with a few (her own) but then grew in numbers because of the number of hungry strays, most unsexed, that were attracted by the food. Now there were twenty!  

Don't the neighbours object, I asked? They do, she said, but more about the possums. The possums, I responded?! Well, she explained, WIRES (the wildlife rescue service) releases rescued possums into the park at the end of the street. This park extends into golf courses and wetland areas. The difficulty, it seems, is that there is almost no possum food, so the animals starve, attracting them to the food put out for the cats.

Given possums don't eat the same things as cats, Cat Lady's Assistant experimented with fruit and vegetables to find things most attractive to possums. Now six possums have joined twenty cats at feeding time.

How did you become involved, I asked? Cat Lady's Assistant explained that her friend lived alone, was frail and had little money.She could no longer afford electricity and lived without power. So the Assistant Cat Lady had become the main feeder.

She started telling me stories, especially about the possums. There was the new father whose partner and new babies lived down the back of the yard. They stayed there while he suspiciously came up to the feeding area. He would grab some food and rush back to the family. That deposited, he would come back for more.

Being an Assistant Cat Lady has its complications. There had been some burglaries in the neighbourhood and an umarked police car with its lights out was parked on watch. It's just turned dark when around the corner comes Assistant Cat Lady carrying a large bag. Excuse me, said the police, what are you doing? I'm going to feed the cats and possums. May we look in your bag, the police asked? It was a big bag. Out came a variety of foodstuffs.

Interested, the police asked her for more details. She explained the whole story. They then turned the spotlight on. All you could see were the tails and bums of cats and possums running in all directions!

For those who celebrate Christmas, I hope that yours was happy. May 2018 be good for all of us.


Anonymous said...

Happy new year! Personally, I do wonder if your "Assistant" Cat Lady is really just the assistant.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you marcellous. I smiled at your comment. She does seem to be so in a practical sense! However, from the anecdotal detail in the conversation the "official" Cat Lady does seem to be a separate person