Pussy Cat – Allan Padgett

The Federal Department of the Environment deploys a feral cat grooming trap that uses sensors to detect the presence of a feral cat and sprays toxic gel onto the fur of the animal. The feral cat instinctively grooms the gel from its body and ingests a lethal dose of poison.

Bend over, see what thing protrudes from under branch
as you brush by or nuzzle close, inquiring:
what or who are you, strange shape with blink?

Inside a twinkle, a gust of vapour spraying.
Then, as you contemplate a sticky feeling
upon your ragged fur, the urge to groom cuts in
so you lick and suck and suck and lick the curdling gel,
tongue stroking furriness clean, like it was a few short minutes ago –
you scampering about, eating nestlings, skinks and small birds nesting low.
There for the taking, a smorgasbord of hot endemic morsels
waiting to be ingested and in turn, transform to exotic cat –
domestic, escaped, wild, feral.

But soon, very soon, you are writhing and twitching on the ground,
coloured by anger, alarm, suffocation and regret –
a deathly pall descending, a bleak dawn of nothingness
as death cuts in.

What’s left is a serving of carrion,
to be devoured and translated
into the genes of desperate scavengers,
the rest of you left to waste alone,
absorbed by silent saprotrophs
or left to shrivel in the haze and turn to dust.

One feral cat less to strike, one less savage urban escapee
to plunder the diversity of nature’s vulnerable fields.
Think of smoky mice, possums, numbats, bilbies, potoroos and bandicoots,
sucked close to extinction by invading others.
Consider then the crying fields of loss,
where evolution favours escaped domestic genes
and in turn, magnifies the latent savagery
of domesticated loungeroom tabbies.

Too many gone from our unique and diverse shores,
many killed by cat attack. Cats don’t know,
their primal urge to stay alive
driven by inner chemical meanings,
drawn by nature to exploit their borrowed territory
and to survive by drawing blood and absorbing life
from those whose turn to be eaten, has come –
obeying their own imperatives
in the unwanted native spaces left by us.
Eat, or die. No more, no less.

I am reminded of cane toads – but without the warts.