When fifteen cats from hell learn how to open your fridge, enough is enough. By Monique Roffey
It's three o'clock on Sunday morning and with a brain full of nicotine and flat party punch, I open my front door and stagger into the hallway - only to be almost knocked flat by a small furry ball of galloping thunder. A hell cat. One of the 15 that live two doors down. This one is a puffy white Persian with ice-blue eyes and, being interrupted in the middle of a pork chop raid, is out of its mind with panic.

Seconds after it charges past me I hear bottles and jars crashing to the floor in the kitchen as it tries to squeeze its fat furry body through the half-open window. It fails, panics even more and thunders past me again, this time into the living-room. Now, panicked too, I lurch into the room, only to come face to face with a huge white crazed Spielbergian monster on my mantlepiece, fangs bared, fur bristling three inches on end, eyes bulging - ready for battle. Horrifying. I run to the kitchen for a broom. It charges after me. I get there just in time to open the kitchen door, which it leaps through, out into the night.

I wake up at 8.30 to the sound of more commotion. This time the cat is terrorising my drunk flatmate, Chris, who has just made it in from a party. Limbs heavy and eyelids droopy, he is groping around the flat like an escaped Egyptian mummy. More clattering of bottles, jars and furniture and then a blinding streak of white fury bolts across my bedroom and into the stash of bulging Kookai bags at the bottom of my cupboard. Silence. The Kookai bags twitch like in some poltergeist movie - and then purr. "Chris!" I scream. And then Chris, stressed and confused, is made to extract one writhing, hissing, hairy devil cat from my room.

Later that morning, making coffee in the kitchen, I tread barefoot on something cold and clammy. I look down to see the remains of a raw pork chop, and realise, in disbelief, that the cat must have opened the fridge to get it. This is the last straw.

The next time I catch one of my neighbours' cats in my house I'm going see if it really can open my fridge - from the inside.

You see, it's not just the food raids (salami, sausages, even chicken legs on the barbie have also been lifted) that have been rattling my nerves. It's also the all-night howling and bonking sessions that are conducted on our wall. And the heady aroma of eau de latrine emanating from the many cat turds strewn across our garden. And then there are the countless times I get snuck up on, while at my word processor, by a cross-eyed etiolated Siamese face smushed up against the window. Yeesh.

We don't know what to do, bar Chris urinating all over the garden to mark out our territory, which we will probably try next.

I was incredibly smug about the big bottle of GET OFF MY GARDEN I bought some time back. The small green crystals were supposed to confuse the cats so they'd go to the loo somewhere else. I used the whole bottle in the first go, and then was devastated when I looked out my window an hour later to see two of the cats on my lawn - chowing down on the crystals.

Meanwhile, I've taken to throwing rocks. I'm quite a good shot. The cats are absolutely furious about this and I don't blame them. But the sound of the little thud when a rock hits a fat tummy and the sight of these horrid deranged creatures losing their footing and then falling backwards off our wall is irresistibly funny.

But my formidable neighbour, Cartie, has a worse deal. "They doo doo on my doorstep," she tells me, hands clutching her head. "They've ruined my carpet with all their doo doo, too." They come into her house and make doo doos? I would kill a cat I found defecating on my carpet. Cartie has tried to make her neighbour pay for a new carpet, but has had no luck. Because the charming woman who owns the cats is a loony tune. A crazy, a nutcase, a fruit loop. A sad urban pet lover. I mean, would anyone in their right mind own 15 cats when they live in a tiny terraced house with no garden? Yes, my friends, no garden of her own.

Fifteen cats expected to lead happy, balanced cat lives in a house not big enough even to swing one in. Cat abuse. That's what it is.

And it's innocent citizens like me, Chris, Cartie and her family who have to deal with the resulting feline delinquency. Cat burglary. Cat doo doos. Catawailing. Well, if catwoman, my neighbour but one, is reading this, I may as well warn you right now. One more pork chop raid and we will be forced to take drastic measures. Yes. We'll buy a dog.