Mitch and Twink and the summer of riots

I came downstairs this morning to find anarchy in the kitchen. I was aware of some disturbances during the night; I was bolt upright and awake for no reason at about 4am which meant of course there actually was a reason. Said reason was revealed  3 hours later when I  found the large metal baking tray which had been residing on the hob, upside down and under the kitchen table.

The plastic threshold from the kitchen doorframe was far from its proper home. Dirt and fluff from underneath said piece of plastic was all across the room. Chair cushions were haphazardly strewn and worst of all there were various piles and pools of excrement and urine on the floor.

Mitch and Twink had some explaining to do.
I was stunned and shocked by the devastation. Although they are rescue cats and aren’t always very good at using their litter trays, that’s usually the worst I am faced with each day. It seems things went to  whole new level.
My first question was why? Why last night – I didn’t do anything to them yesterday out of the ordinary. They were fed on time, let in and out on schedule, given the usual freedoms considered appropriate for them.
Maybe it was pay back for Friday when I fed them early, let them out for only a short while then spent the rest of the day with my fiancé so they were locked in. I did feed them again at the usual time in the evening but perhaps they felt their liberties were curtailed by me going off and enjoying myself with little regard for their happiness.
Maybe they are finally showing their true colours. Mitch and Twink came to us after at least 2 foster homes, after being rejected from not one, but two homes. In their last abode, they were one of 10 animals, who all shared the same litter tray, had to fight for food and attention and no doubt were  starved of love.  They had been given to that home by their original owners who had decided they preferred the other pets they had and didn’t want the two cats anymore.
In fact, Blue Cross rescue centre were very pleased to have us take such two ill-treated cats from them. They also made a point of telling us that no one takes black cats because people consider them bad luck and write them off for nothing more than the colour of their fur. And certainly as 9 year olds they are considered too old to be cute, or changeable, or trainable and get overlooked for that reason too.
Maybe because of that, we’ve been too soft on them. I haven’t rubbed their noses in ‘it’ when they have messed on the floor before. I guess I haven’t set that particular boundary for them so they don’t know not to break it. Or should they just know pooing on the floor is not appreciated? I’m often torn between taking the softly softly approach with them most people would expect when working with cats who have been through what they’ve been through, or being tough when they have shown the smallest hint of naughtiness to make sure they know whats appropriate.
Maybe they enjoyed it – it must get pretty frustrating being locked in a kitchen every night in the dark with nothing to do but read a few cookery books.
Maybe they just realised I was in a deep sleep (I do not snore!) and thought they had the opportunity to have a bit of a laugh.
Or are they just dumb cats – no matter what I do, they are what they are, only arguably sentient, driven by instinct rather than logic.
So without a known motive, choosing my action was even harder. What was I to do?
My first task in any morning is to feed them and today could be no different. Sure, I could have kicked them out into the garden to find a juicy mouse but I have no evidence that Twink in particular is able to fend for herself.
It seems we have a lack of wildlife around at the moment, there is a widely reported lack of birds and mice due to recent hard winters. The sustenance that is out there is hard to find, has to feed more mouths.
Plus Twink doesn’t seem to have much common sense. For instance she doesn’t seem to know that it is good to shelter when it rains and often returns to the house soaked. I don’t know why she hasn’t got this fundamental skill – perhaps she wasn’t shown by previous owners, or perhaps she was never let out to learn.
So I fed them and set about putting the kitchen back together.
Then what? I had to think what to do to let them know this kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable. I have offered them a home, fed them, given them health care, exercise, toys and most of all cuddles, strokes, brushing which they equate with love. They’re right – I’m soppy for them. And this is how they repay me.
Should I withdraw some privileges other than food? I could keep them in all day – but the I’d have them running mad round the house because they were bored and cramped. I’d also be cleaning up more excrement. I’d have to feed them more and no doubt entertain them. It is also cruel to keep outdoor cats inside
Should I separate them? Mitch often jumps Twink without warning and she, understandably, retaliates. But then they often wind each other up. Taking away the obvious  bad influences in their life – each other –  seems like taking away the only thing they actually know of old, rely on and find comfort in. They still curl up together like they did when we first rescued them.
Should we kick them out altogether. This might be the start of a longer pattern of behaviour. It might be a sign of a deeply buried problem just surfacing. Do I take the risk? This time it was just a bit of skirting board, next time it could be something more expensive.
It is a tough one. But you know what, I think the only way these cats will realise they can’t act the way they did last night is for me to set them boundaries, but moreover to love them. Rejecting them in any way will either push the problem on to someone else, or bring them to an even more  undesirable situation – rejected, hungry, homeless.
Mitch and Twink still aren’t allowed in my room though, I’m allergic to cats.
·         I do not mean to make light of what is of course a difficult and serious situation in the UK. I have however been flummoxed by many of the responses I have seen in social media from friends and strangers. I understand the bewilderment, shock, anger and despair and share all those sentiments. The above is a true story and as I reflected on the various strategies for change, retribution and how to mete out justice I drew parallels to highlight by metaphor what I consider to be ill thought out responses.  This is also the part where I should say I don’t have the answers – but I do. Jesus. He shows us by His example to not judge, to serve everyone in the world no matter what their status as defined by society as we are all the same in His eyes no matter what the world has thrown at, or not given us. This may seem naïve, but I believe loving people is the solution – and has been proven to work time and again.
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