Book Review

“French Stones” Life in a 12th Century Crusaders’ Castle” (link)

''Saint Siffret had a cat problem. We’d seen that for ourselves one day while taking a peaceful stroll through the village and, perhaps distracted by the beauty of the place or having become lost in conversation, we

mindlessly turned a corner and found ourselves in a very bad cat place. Easily twenty feral cats loitered at the front of an unprepossessing house toward the end of the street. The cats louchely lay in the middle of the street, were strung across the home’s lower story window ledges, and clustered beneath a ragged-looking shrub across the way. They were an unattractive bunch. Ears had been chewed off in battles, eyes put out in brawls, and wide patches of fur had gone missing in kerfuffles. Twenty heads swiveled in our direction when we entered the street, and forty eyes (more or less) regarded us with suspicion as we approached. The cats, both in number and unattractiveness, were an intimidating sight, and brought us to a halt. We looked at them. They looked at us.''

The mairie declared war on the feral cats of Saint Siffret. Having tried to remove the cats before, it was thought the second attempt would fail like the first time. With promises of humane removal to rescue centres, the first campaign had begun with a burst of optimism and traps were laid throughout the village. The mairie soon discovered the traps had been removed by someone, and it was feared the same would happen again, regardless of the threat of fines for anyone tampering with their program to remove the cats.

Of course, traps would disappear again.

Those at the mairie had failed to take into account their fellow French citizens who, deep within their genes, coupled a strong rebellious streak with an instinctive affinity for the downtrodden...the downtrodden in this case being the village’s wild cats.

Throughout the little town, multiple households would leave food our for the wild cats, and there was no sign of residents supporting the local mayor.

Would the council eventually fly the white flag and the feral cats remain?

The book tells the story of a town coming together to sabotage the removal of the local feral cats, and also tells the story of one particular little kitten who was found starving begging for food. Her little ribs protruding, the author and his partner were unsure why this one little cat was in such a state in a town of cat lovers and food everywhere. The kitten was found to be a stray who had been dumped, so the couple decided action was needed....

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