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Animals of the UK - 2. The cats of the flats

There's an old cobbled block of flats in Stoke Newington and although no more than 200 people can live there at most, there are 12 cats. Most of whom never leave the area of the flats, so they act as if they own it.

Which they sort of do. There's a complicated society of these cats, complete with social hierarchy and insecurity. They have replicated human society but, being cats, their society is even more neurotic. It's a salutary lesson to us all - if it all goes to the cleaners then, like in Doctor Who this series, we may end up cannibalising ourselves and turn into these cats.

Me and my companion have named them all, with names appropriate to their personalities and looks. We can't speak cat, so we can't call them by their real names.

The head cats appear to be 'Fatty One-Stroke' and 'Tabster', who are in a neverending battle for supremacy of the cobbles. Fatty is so named because he'll always come to you, but you'll only get one stroke before he leaves. Beautiful green eyes, but an obvious attitude, although I'd rather see independence in a cat than blind need. Tabster is a tabby. When we first moved in, he seemed like a confident well-mannered cat who would always jump in your lap when asked. But then something came upon him. He became fascinated by a tiny hole in the cobbles, which he'd sit and stare down all day every day, occasionally sticking his paw in it in a manic episode. Perhaps he once saw a mouse down there.

I once saw him eat a spider - he didn't like it. It reminded me of seeing Stig of The Dump at the theatre when I was little - he ate a spider. I hated Stig - what a tramp. If you're going to act like a cat, you might as well be one.

In the corner of the flats there lived four skinny oriental-looking fellas. We called them 'The Ferals' although they were far too well-groomed to actually be so. The ringleaders were Beryl The Feral and Feral Williams, but to be honest, I'm still not sure what sex they actually were, so forgive me. They were crazy, these four. They were the either the mafia or the traveling troubadours of this society - I was never quite sure. Maybe both - a terrifying prospect.

They used to jump over each other and chase anything moving, before sitting alert on their doorstep or in the bushes by the front door, never venturing further into the flats, but evidently exerting a malign influence on the other cats, who never came near, and knew to stay away from these time-bombs.

And so to the star - 'Yellow Eyes' - a jet-black gentleman with shining yellow eyes. The scarediest cat you could know, but wow, so enigmatic, so pretty. He'd sit in his window and stare at the world with wonder, renewed daily. Or he'd gallop about the flats, never coming within 300 yards of human. The fastest gun in the flats, the most nervous, the most fascinating. He would never make friends with us. His owners were always in, so I could never steal him away to a life of sociality.

Once I saw a stranger stroke him. It blew my mind - he'd given in. Or had I never whispered the correct secret word into his ever-alert ears? I'll never know.