Beamer’s nine lives take a hit

A confident Beamer on gatepost duty - before his bad experience.

A confident Beamer on gatepost duty – before his bad experience.

Anyone who has been ‘adopted’ by feral cats will know that it’s impossible not to become emotionally involved with them. Things can happen that can break your heart. And they do. Jetta, the pregnant stray who adopted us in early 2011, produced four kittens in her first litter. One – a pretty little female – lost her life at an early age when she jumped from an almond tree straight into the path of a car driving down the lane.

Her thriving siblings Beamer, Dusty and Bear were soon joined by Jetta’s second litter of five kittens. Bear – a lovely black cat who was possibly The Boss’s favourite – went off one day earlier this year and just didn’t return. The same thing happened with Jetta, who had become so friendly and contented after we had her sterilized. Both cats came every day for food at the usual times, and had done so for some two years. Why would they stop? We found nothing to solve the mystery of their disappearance.

The Boss had to remind me of something that my emotional attachment to our cat family makes me overlook: these are feral cats and they behave instinctively. Perhaps the call of the wild had finally caught up with Bear and Jetta? I still find it hard to accept but that’s only because I apply human rationale to their actions.

‘Bye ‘bye Beamer?

I was particularly upset a fortnight ago when Beamer – the alpha male of our outdoor cat family – didn’t appear for dinner, or for his breakfast the following morning. It was totally unlike Beamer not to be sitting on the steps near our front door, waiting for his bowl of food. But he had shown some uncharacteristic hostility towards Peanut, the little ginger kitten that appeared – dumped – on our land late last month. Could Beamer – a normally sweet-natured cat – have been driven away by this mewling little mite?

“He’s a feral cat,” The Boss had to remind me (again). “Wandering off is what they do. It was obviously his time.”

I was far more upset than I should have been, but Beamer had always been a special cat with a gentle and apparently caring nature. When Jetta became tired of providing milk for her second litter, the little ones took to sucking on Beamer’s tummy fur. He must have wondered what was going on, but happily laid back and allowed his little siblings to snuggle up to his tummy and attempt to find something that didn’t exist! Even though the kittens are now just over two years old, the bond between them and Beamer had remained strong. I couldn’t believe that he would have left, and feared he’d met with an accident or a hunter’s gun.

The return of Beamer

“You’ll never believe who’s here,” The Boss said on Sunday afternoon when he looked out of the window and saw Beamer crossing the terrace towards the house. But as we went out to meet him, it was obvious that all was not well. Someone had knotted plastic twine around his neck, leaving a length of it trailing like a lead. I felt sick thinking about why someone would do such a thing to a cat. The Boss held onto him as I rushed indoors for scissors to release him from the restrictive ‘collar’. It was so tight we didn’t dare cut the twine for fear of cutting him too, so we made another of our emergency visits to our vet’s which, thankfully, is open seven days a week.

Released from his twine ‘collar’, Beamer remained subdued. Tests established that he’d lost weight, was dehydrated, had a low potassium count, a high temperature, and a grazed nose. We came home minus 175 euros, plus lots of medication and, most importantly, with Beamer. We kept him in our annexe bedroom for a couple of nights, giving him plenty of affection and some quiet time to recover from his ordeal. He seemed pleased to be back with us and we’re relieved and delighted to have him back.

Physically he seems to be making a good recovery. But who knows how he is feeling about life and the world after what must have been a really distressing episode in his life? At least he managed to find his way back from wherever he was to our finca. And, yes, I’m projecting human emotions onto a cat again, but surely that means he feels that this is home . . .

Welcome home, Beamer.

 

Read about the latest flavoured salt launched by Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc, Mallorca, on my other blog: www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com

Rain stops play . . . and work

The Boss is a list-maker. And The Big List is the one detailing all the jobs (large and small) that need to be done at our finca in rural Mallorca. I think he started it before we even moved to Mallorca, and it’s been ongoing ever since.  While recovering from his recent surgery, he sat down to do a full review and update of the list, adding lots of new jobs. If I had a list of my own outstanding jobs I’d be completely overwhelmed, but The Boss seems to thrive on having this list to spur him on. Must be the Virgo in him.

Rain, rain, go away . . . 

Since being ‘fit for purpose'(!) again, he’s worked very hard, striking through completed jobs on his handwritten list with pleasure and satisfaction. But progress has recently ground to a halt: unusually, it’s been raining almost solidly here on Mallorca for the past week and all the outdoor jobs on the list (some of which I was going to be helping with) have been out of the question.  Our plans to paint the persianas (our wooden shutters) on the north-facing side of the house have been scuppered by the wet weather. It’ll probably be spring before they dry out enough to re-paint.

Illuminating experience

The weather’s been so bad that we have barely been outside and that’s sharply brought into focus what we love about living in rural Mallorca: being outdoors and surrounded by nature. And, although we could dress ourselves appropriately for the weather and go out, the indoor jobs are looking much more appealing. Currently, it’s an audit of the light bulbs in the house . . .

Read about a gift from the Mediterranean – harvested here on Mallorca – on my other blog: http://www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com

How to make a small fortune on Mallorca

Start with a large one and buy an old finca!

I know. It’s an old joke, but there’s some truth in it (assuming you had any kind of fortune to start with – and we certainly didn’t).

This time last year we had to have our roof renewed and buy new gates. We’d hoped that we wouldn’t be spending any more large amounts of money for a long while. But in recent weeks our solar-powered electricity system has been requiring an increasing amount of generator back-up. Every evening we were having to run the generator for an hour or so to prevent it kicking in on auto-start during the night, because of the power drain caused by the fridge/freezer.

Eventually The Boss decided to switch off the auto-start before we went to bed: we really didn’t want the generator bursting into life in the wee small hours and startling the local sheep (or, of course, our neighbours in the valley). Although running our solar power system is ecologically sound, generators aren’t: diesel is horrible stuff and it’s expensive.

Winter draws on

With winter ahead (and The Boss not keen on going out late at night to traipse down the field to the power house in bad weather), we knew it was time to replace our solar polar batteries. A few years ago we were told that we’d be lucky if they lasted five years; they managed nine. Once again we’ve had to shelve any dreams of a holiday, to spend the equivalent of several holidays on replacing our old batteries with a set that will hopefully last at least a decade.

Out with the old and exhausted . . .

Out with the old and exhausted . . .

Thanks to our finca, we’ll never have a large or even a small fortune, but we do have the good fortune to have a reliable and consistent electricity supply now and a sturdy roof over our heads – and, having seen the TV coverage of the heartbreaking devastation in the Philippines, we’re counting our blessings, if not our banknotes.

The kitten gets a name . . .

We worked out the other day that no fewer than 17 cats and kittens have ‘adopted’ us since we moved to live on a finca in rural Mallorca.  They are not all still here, of course, otherwise The Boss would give himself another hernia just carrying all the bags of cat food we’d need each week.

Sadly, feral cats – even given food, water, affection and any necessary veterinary attention – are vulnerable to a whole heap of hazards. Traffic accidents, poisoning, feline illnesses and bullets from the odd trigger-happy or myopic hunter are some of the things that can rob a country cat of its life here. It’s truly heartbreaking to lose a feline friend to any of these things. We have two small graves in our field as a result of losing two kittens to accidents in the lane.

Less than a fortnight ago our feline family of six became seven, with the arrival of another small and starving ginger kitten. We’re convinced it must be related somehow to Shorty, the kitten that arrived in August 2012 and tenaciously worked his way into the existing cat clan. The new arrival has a way to go before it’s really accepted by the others, but at least the hiss-fest seems to have ended, and little one has even been seen to rub up against one or two of the cats without being whacked by a paw. It’s eating well and has put on weight too. So progress has been made.

Peanut, with Nibbles (right). No prizes for guessing how he got his name!

Peanut, with Nibbles (right). No prizes for guessing how he got his name!

 

A nutty name

Normal cat hazards permitting, the kitten looks here to stay. So, as with all previous cats and kittens that have come our way, we’ve given it a name. Having first decided on Elsa, then Simba, we’ve finally settled on the gender-neutral name of Peanut. We think it’s a female, but who knows what may develop in the coming weeks . . .

Apart from the fact that the kitten is small – like a peanut – its pale ginger coat perfectly matches the wall at the back of the house that The Boss painted earlier this year. And the colour of the paint was cacahuete – Spanish for ‘peanut’. There is always some logic to the naming of those cats that adopt us, but it doesn’t always bear scrutiny!