If every feral cat that we’d fed/watered/had neutered or treated at the vet’s, had stayed with us, we’d have 17 cats living around our finca in rural Mallorca. But as The Boss often says: “They are only passing through.” We have to expect that a feral cat will one day hear the irresistible call of the wild, and leave behind the regular meals, companionship of siblings, and human attention. But even knowing that these cats are only in our temporary care (however short or long that may be), doesn’t mean that we haven’t fallen in love with all the felines that have ‘adopted’ us. We’ve given every one of them a name and enjoyed watching their characters develop.
Loved and lost
There have been some sad losses over the years: a pretty female kitten lost her life when she jumped from an almond tree straight into the path of a neighbour’s car. The Boss buried her at the bottom of the field (her grave is marked by stones) – just yards from where she came into the world. Another – a gorgeous little chap we named Bluey – was killed by one of the relatively few lorries to visit the valley (he too has his burial place). Bluey had once left us, setting off on his great journey to an independent life. Eleven days later he was back – and thereafter left our land only at night. If I was kneeling to do some weeding in the garden, Bluey would ‘supervise’ from his perch on my shoulder. If I spent any time relaxing on the lounger on the terrace, he’d jump up and make himself comfortable, tucking his head under my chin. If I went anywhere on our land, he’d follow me. As much as I had tried not to become too fond of the young cat, which we’d seen grow from a kitten, it was impossible not to; I was devastated when I found his inert body in the lane.
El Tel returns
On one occasion – between the death of Bluey and the arrival of a black kitten we named Jetta – Bluey’s brother El Tel arrived at the house. He’d left us quite a few months before and we’d not seen anything of him since. But, on this particular day, he paid us a visit. He hopped up into the dining room window recess – a place where he’d often dozed during the day – as though he’d never been away. A short while later, having checked out his former home, he left. We’ve never seen him again.
Amazingly, five members of our current cat family – from two litters, but the same mum – are still with us, more than three years after they were born. Shorty, a ginger kitten that simply turned up one day, is now a well-nourished and affectionate two-year-old. He was clever enough to ingratiate himself with the existing cat clan, thus ensuring a harmonious life in his new surroundings.
Along came Peanut
Peanut – another ginger kitten, but female – arrived last October. She was tiny, but squealed like a banshee whenever she was hungry. Which was most of the time. The other cats weren’t quite as welcoming as they had been with Shorty, but Peanut was persistent and eventually they tolerated her. She spent much of her early time with us pouncing on the older cats and play-fighting them, but had matured in recent months. We’d taken Peanut to be spayed when she was around six months old – only to find that the deed had already been done (at what must have been a very early age).
The cats often stay together for some time after dinner, appearing to enjoy each other’s company (and ours if we’re outside). But Peanut eventually took to going off on her own, returning for breakfast the next morning. Then, two weeks ago, Peanut didn’t come back . . . and we haven’t seen her since. We’ve no evidence that any harm has come to her, so we’re telling ourselves that this feisty little ginger cat is one of those felines that couldn’t resist the call of the wild.
Buen viaje, Peanut. You were fun to have around . . .