Cats! Cats! And Still More CATS!
Felis silvestris catus

Mr Wonderful on neighbour’s fence, woodland behind

CATS are much-loved pets in Highbury, as elsewhere. Living a comfortable life with their humans when at home, they can assume their wild cat ways when outside, stalking rodents & birds, having battlles for territory with other cats… & some of them may have an effect on local wildlife.


At feeding time, we warn the birds to keep a lookout for Pointy-Eared Predators. There are breeds of stubby- eared cats, but none living nearby – so the obvious warning sign for birds will be the pointy ears of the local cats. Foxes have even larger pointy ears & they, too, roam the area.  Often the only clues to a successful hunt & kill for one of the Pointy Ears will be a scattering of feathers left under the shrubbery.

   Dogs do not roam free in the borough. Outside in their back gardens, they are enclosed by walls and fences. Going for walkies with a family member, they will be on a lead – perhaps running alongside someone on a bike with the lead attached to it. Some dogs ride the bus, carried by their owners.  & there are professional dog walkers who walk as many as five dogs at a time.

But cats are free to roam where they please. Whereas most dogs cannot leap over high walls, healthy cats can manage a jump of 7 times their own height (8 ft, 2.4 metres – google). Fences are unlikely to be catproof; most places are accessible to cats. They have a favourite territory, a particular few streets in this neighbourhood, & can look absolutely confident marching along the pavement they consider their own. When old Tiggy the Matchday Cat was alive, he ruled.

See The Dean of Canterbury reading Rudyard Kipling’s The Cat That Walked by Itself’ for National Black Cat Day,  .Youtube.


Tightrope walking Cat on fence crop


After their meeting place in the small woodland behind our house was trashed,  local cats began to visit our gardens.

They balance on fences like acrobats on a high wire, strolling along a surface only as wide as one paw without looking down. Often a cat will sit on the fence, all of its legs tucked in, looking totally relaxed as if resting on a soft cushion.

Usual Suspects2 - Cats - Cats on neighbour's fence, Dec 2009

Move along, move along… early morning Highbury Moggie Mash-Up


Highbury Cats

Club tailed cat up close P1050654

Tabby cat in neighbour's garden

Black cat white bib white whiskers on fence FEB 2015

New white and black cat

Backlit Cat enhanced








Nonchalant Cat, Squirrel on fence



Orange and white cat

Orange beauty in stealth mode in the Ivy





There are cat videos on the internet – cat channels, advice about cats, cats doing entertaining things…

Canterbury Cathedral cat disappears under Dean’s robes during sermon
Ashworth Meow Mix – Vicar Cat Disappear Under Priest Disco Party Night Rave –
Kittisaurus – Cat vs Dinosaur –
Cats Watching Scary Movies –
Our cats always follow me when the deliveryman brings a package –


Summer 2014: this cat appeared on the wall of a Blackstock Road shop overnight. The grim reaper could have been asking ‘Do you know who I am?’ and the cat answering ‘Ha! I have nine lives, you know.’ The wall art disappeared under a coat of grey paint after a few days…

Row 2 No 1 Banksy cat with grim reaperRow 2 No 2 Banksy cat on wall of Highbury shop


This elegant mushroom tabby moved into our garden when builders were working on our neighbour’s house. It found a sunny spot on our Clematis mound, and curled up just above the bank where suet feeders are visited by the birds.

The cat was seen waking from a snooze – it yawned, stretched, and pounced at a woodpigeon sitting on our hedge who just managed to flap out of harm’s way. Other birds, including one young starling, were not so lucky. When old Tiggy was alive, he would not have tolerated another cat in his garden. He would have seen it off.

For more on the life and times of  neighbourhood Top Cat Tiggy, go to the Matchday Cat page.



A neighbour has recently told us the name of our Rodentfinder General – Tickle. As a kitten he had came round & shown how keen he was to be security guard, locating possible mouseholes & watching intently until a mouse emerged… He was keen and unblinking. Now he is older & we’ve had foxes in the back gardens, we don’t see him except when passing by his own front garden…

Neighbours whose cats have gone missing hang laminated appeals on the street trees with the cat’s description, asking us to check our sheds & get in touch. Other than these named cats, we’ve only known a few local moggies by name… Freddie and McGuire. But, during repairs to one of our brick walls, a collar was found entangled in the old chainlink fence & dense Ivy that had grown over it.

Obviously a cat named Oscar got snagged climbing in and managed to rid himself of his collar rather than be strangled by it. His owners must have been cheesed off when he returned home collarless. We’ve no idea whether this happened decades ago or more recently – whether Oscar still prowls the gardens, has left the area, or is in Cat Valhalla with Tiggy.




Cats, aside from chasing mice, may catch some of the unwary birdlife. They get into our garden, stalking the birds at the feeders. There are many places a cat can conceal itself. See the secretive cat in our video above, Zoom Cat. Electronic cat deterrents require flat open spaces rather than nooks & crannies to work.


In New Zealand, friends Maureen & Ken were told by a neighbour that their new kitten was unwelcome in her garden & would feel the wrath of her garden hose if she found him there. They have since moved, but Pepper would regularly appear with a drenched, soaking tail & back end…

Other Substances

Looking through the internet for ecological methods of deterring but not harming cats, we found this one from Wikipedia a contender. It is clearly illustrated, with a selection of substances easily obtained and applied. Rosemary, Witch Hazel, Cinnamon, Lemon, Citronella and others are combined in four possible mixtures. ‘While it’s difficult to convince cats to do anything they don’t want to do, you can make homemade cat repellent that may convince cats to take their business elsewhere. Homemade cat spray is safe and environmentally friendly.’

We will look into the effectiveness of homemade cat repellents. (To be used on the garden surfaces, NOT the neighbours’ much-loved cats.)