The Truth About Cats And Dogs In Vietnam – Part II

Two months ago I was on the brink of becoming a cat-murderer.

The pain of losing not one but two birds to rogue street cats had both Darling Man and I contemplating cat-icide as we wrestled with how to protect our pets, our house and our food from our unwelcome feline visitors.

You might remember I wrote this long post about the death of Birdie and how our local dog and cat restaurant could be the solution to our problem.

Cat restaurant

Translation: The King of Cat and Dog Restaurants. Straw barbecue – many types of dishes. We buy β€œfresh” dogs and cats. 15 metres that way.

For a week or so, I barely let our three surviving budgies out of my sight. I carried their cage around the house. They were with me in my office when I worked and they slept in our helper’s room with the door closed.

The birds, creatively named Blue, Yellow and Green, were shut in the helper’s room for two whole weeks while we were in Cambodia.

When we came back, it was crunch time. We had to find a solution.

“There’s no point having birds if they’re locked away in a room upstairs,” I told Darling Man.

“Yeah,” he said, sadly, standing at the back door looking at our small courtyard, territory “owned” by the street cats, even though it’s surrounded by an eight-foot high fence.

We were quiet for a while. These kinds of conversations are hard.

We watched silently as one of the cats strolled along the top of the fence, flicking its kinked tail at us in contempt.

I couldn’t even summon the energy to spray it with the hose, our usual cat-deterrent technique. Our mostly-Alsatian dog lay beside me looking innocently in the other direction, pretending, as usual, not to have noticed the interloper.

Mitzie the Meek


“The cat restaurant,” I said. “Could you really do it?”

Darling Man eyed the top of the fence. “I don’t think I could catch the cats,” he said. He’d told me earlier that cat and dog restaurants don’t do home visits. If we wanted to sell them some “fresh” cats we’d have to catch them ourselves.

“No,” I said. “I mean … could you really sell a cat to a restaurant to be killed?”

Darling Man looked sheepish. “Naw,” he said.

“Me either,” I confessed. “Although if someone just came and took the cats away, maybe I could do it. I mean, in Australia, stray cats and dogs are caught and then killed. They’re just not eaten afterwards.”

We both stared silently into the backyard again.

“There’s no point having birds if we have to lock them away upstairs,” I said again.

“Yeah,” Darling Man said, sadly.

I told him I thought we should give them away.

“Yeah,” he said, sadly.

And we half-heartedly discussed who we could give them to.

And then we didn’t discuss the issue for a few days.

And then one afternoon I went downstairs and found a bare-chested Darling Man balanced on the weird decorative rock feature in our courtyard, sewing some green mesh to the fence.

It took him two days to create a secure mesh barrier at the top of the fence.

When he finished we both stood at the back door again, staring at our courtyard. It actually felt like “our” courtyard for a change.

Mitzie the dog looked guiltily in the other direction. She doesn’t know how to deal with the cats’ poor manners.

And just like that our street cat problem was solved … with a cat-proof fence.

cat-proof fence

Take THAT you murderous little b@stard.

Now our budgies are in our courtyard, hanging under a tree unmolested by street cats. They have to stay in a cage, unfortunately, because I don’t think Australian native birds would survive too well in the wilds of Vietnam.

And there you have it. The truth about cats and dogs (and birds) and Darling Man and me — we are too soft to condemn feral cats to death.

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9 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. I would have still loved you if you were a cat murderer! Did the cats used to go through the bars? I’m wondering why they can’t now just jump over?

    • Barbara says:

      The bars are on top of a very high stone fence, Tracey. (The pic is taken from our first floor balcony.) I don’t think there’s enough room for the cats to get enough of a run-up to jump over the fence. The top of the bars are also bent so the cats would have to jump around as well as up and over. And the bars are spiked on top, so landing on them would really hurt! I thought we’d have to put a roof over the courtyard to keep the cats out but so far Darling Man’s system seems to be working.

  2. Carmel says:

    That’s so sweet of him to do that. Some scientists just did a study to see how much house cats kill and it was a lot more than they previously thought.
    Carmel recently posted..Christmas Dinner & a Farewell (for now)

    • Barbara says:

      These cats kill a lot and they are not house cats! I’ve heard of pet cats that hunt with one paw holding their neck bell still. Cats are super-crafty. I’m just glad we’ve managed to keep these cats at bay. We’re now getting the most beautiful birds visiting our courtyard.

  3. Jenny says:

    Oh, you sweet and gentle guys… I am crossing my thumbs (is that the right thing to do? In Germany you have to press or squeeze them…?) that the cats do not prove too intelligent – after all, such a net is easily torn with sharp claws, isn’t it?
    Jenny recently posted..Mal eine andere Reiseidee: Neuseeland im Winter!

    • Barbara says:

      In Australia we cross our fingers. But in Vietnam that’s a very rude sign. So thumbs it is!

      One cat managed to break through the net, but it got such a fright when it couldn’t get OUT of the courtyard that it hasn’t come back. The netting is made of tough nylon and it’s sewn up pretty tightly, so I hope it works for quite a while. Our dog ventured out into the courtyard the other day, so I think the word has gotten around that it IS a cat-proof fence. πŸ™‚

  4. i couldn’t do it, either. the netting is brilliant!
    wandering educators recently posted..Top Ten Unique Places to Stay in New York

    • Barbara says:

      It is. I didn’t even know it was available in Vietnam. I should know better by know. EVERYTHING is available in Vietnam. You just have to know where to find it.

  5. budget jan says:

    Awww. Darling Man in actually a Knight in Shining Armour. I knew he would build something to solve the problem.

  6. Travel Wired says:

    If push came to shove, I could probably catch and sell a cat if it was giving me heck. But the mesh is a much better idea methinks.
    Travel Wired recently posted..The Best of Swiss Rail Journeys

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