‘Would a fox attack a cat?’ is a question often pondered in our locality somewhere in the rural fringe. A story of a large cat beating off a fox with much shrieking and rumpus is going the rounds. Opinions vary, but I would not give much for the chances of a small cat against a large powerful fox, if the fox was determined. This is what happened in our garden yesterday morning.
To set the scene, we have to 13-year-old Siamese cats. We have a fairly long garden with a wildish area at the far end by the field boundary and young rabbits occasionally come visiting. For various good reasons, the grass had not been cut for at least three weeks and the bank of Queen Anne’s Lace at the far end was picturesquely tall and thick. It was around mid-day and all was peaceful and sunny. Number One Cat was asleep close to the house and Number Two Cat had recently been seen in the herbaceous border.
Contemplating this rural tranquillity, I noticed in the longer grass something brown and pointed, which turned out – you’ve guessed it – to be the head of a fox. A strikingly handsome dog fox ambled into view, gently pottering, sniffing at this and that, sitting down, looking about and peacefully enjoying the garden. Where was Number One Cat? Number One Cat is a feisty character but is very small. On cue, Number One appeared at the far end of the garden, ambling without a care towards the house along the only mown path in the long grass – like the fox, just enjoying things. The fox, positioned close to and facing the pathway, was poised to see Number One, who was blissfully unaware of anything untoward.
As these things do, it happened quite quickly. Fox saw cat and moved forward to investigate at close quarters. Cat saw Fox approaching within a metre of her and took off like a Derby winner, probably faster than she has ever run – and she has a style like a Cheetah – bang! straight through the catflap. The fox appeared slightly puzzled, sat down for a scratch, pottered about some more and eventually headed off into the fields. Number One quickly regained her poise and said keeping foxes out of the domain was all in a day’s work.
In the prime of her youth, Number One Cat would take on the pheasants who visited the garden most days then. The stalk, flat to the ground, using for cover whatever came handy, maybe the wheelbarrow or a flowerpot, was a marvel of acute concentration. Pheasants, not being the brightest of birds, would take some time to become suspicious. On suddenly realising a cat was taking a close interest, they would take off in a fluster of wings and squawks – pursued by cat, leaping high in the air. It was often a close call. Somewhere we have a photo of Number One in mid-air leap surrounded by airborne pheasants.