Reflecting on our Mallorcan Cats

Two of our glaring of cats (now only four) celebrated their birthday yesterday. When I say celebrated, these felines knew nothing about becoming eleven years old. But such anniversaries are always a time for reflecting on the Mallorcan cats that have been a part of our lives here.

Nibbles and Sweetie are the last two remaining cats from Jetta’s second litter of five kittens, born in July 2011. Although probably not a year old at the time, feral Jetta had already had four kittens in March the same year. This little, black beauty was popular with the local ‘boys’; getting her spayed – after some effort to catch her – ensured her petite body didn’t endure another pregnancy.

Jetta stayed with us until the little ones became too demanding ; one day, she didn’t come back at mealtime. We couldn’t find her and concluded she’d just had enough of being mama to a bunch of boisterous kittens. These little mites became our responsibility.

Jetta’s legacy was nine assorted kittens – all adorable. One little one lost her life tragically when she jumped out of a tree straight into the path of a neighbour’s car. Brownie is buried at the end of our field, just yards from where she was born. Some of the kittens stayed with us for several years and for a long time we had five of the siblings living on our finca, having meals twice a day and any necessary visits to our vet in Manacor. We had them all neutered, of course.

Goodbye to Two

It was heartbreaking when Beamer and Chico – on separate occasions – went off and didn’t return. Beamer, in particular, had suffered a horrible experience a few years before and had since spent most of his time around our finca. The Boss and I searched for these two cats but never saw either of them again.

Sweetie – the tortoiseshell runt of the second litter – had always been skittish and unapproachable. The only female, her territory was on the neighbouring finca. However, she returned to us for meals, access to water, and some bonding time with her brothers Beamer and Dusty.

After Chico left, Sweetie changed. She became friendlier, happy to be stroked, and will occasionally allow me to pick her up for a brief cuddle. Chico had also been shy with us but if a strange cat came onto the finca, he was the first to see it off. We realised he’d probably bullied Sweetie, because her change in nature coincided with his departure. These days, this dainty little puss is more relaxed and spends a lot of time on our finca. She’s even learnt to tolerate Shorty and Pip – who are not siblings – and over whom she has the benefit of seniority.

Adiós Dusty

It’s taken me a long time to be able to write about the loss of our beloved, blue-eyed Dusty in May this year. He’d had a skin cancer on his nose, which was treated with electro-chemotherapy at a specialist clinic in Palma in January 2021.

When it was obvious that the cancer had returned this spring and was eating into his nose, we hoped further treatment would be possible. I’d already obtained the syringe of sedative we’d need to get him into the cat carrier and car (which he hated) to go to the vet’s, but couldn’t get near him to administer the injection.

Then, one Sunday when The Boss and I were eating lunch at the table down in our field, Dusty appeared and started rubbing his cheek against my leg. He hadn’t done this for some time and had stopped exchanging nose-rub greetings with his siblings. I bent down to stroke him, then picked him up. He didn’t struggle at all. It was as though he were telling me he was ready for his final trip.

I took him into the house while The Boss fetched the cat carrier and prepared for us to leave for the vet’s. Dusty reclined on the library floor, as we stroked him and told him all the things that pet owners do at such a poignant moment. After I’d injected the sedative, we continued to stroke him until he was asleep and we could get him into the cat carrier. Sadly, further treatment wasn’t possible. We stayed with him at the vet’s until the last beat of his heart, then brought him home.

Dusty had a favourite shady spot at the end of our field, under an overhanging shrub. That same spot – very close to where he was born in March 2011 – is now his final resting place. RIP Dusty.

©Jan Edwards 2022

Cat Tales from Mallorca

Those beautiful blue eyes!

Our house has been a cat convalescent home again this weekend. This time our patient was Dusty – the eldest of the cats we look after – who had a biopsy on Friday. When we brought him home from the vet’s, we kept him indoors for a couple of nights to keep an eye on him and manage his post-biopsy medication.

We’re devastated that the poor boy has a tumour in his nose, and a piece of the tissue has been sent to Barcelona for analysis. We must now wait for the results to know the art of the possible in terms of treatment. I am praying it’s benign.

Dusty is the only remaining cat from the first litter of feral kittens, born on the other side of the wall at the end of our field. He’s almost ten years old and, other than a night in our guest annexe after he was castrated, has lived outdoors all his life – showing no inclination to come into the house.

He has an affectionate and gentle nature, in as much as he likes to rub his head against our legs and purrs with great enthusiasm. When I do some gardening, he often appears from underneath a shrub to keep me company.

But try to pick him up or put him on a lap, and we’re suddenly dealing with a sharp-clawed octopus. Catching him for the visit to the vet’s called, as usual, for subterfuge.

On Friday evening, Dusty was still subdued after his lunchtime op. We drove the ten kilometres home without a squeak from him in his travelling case on the back seat. A first.

Our guest annexe isn’t warm enough to use in the winter, so we brought Dusty into the house to recuperate. Considering the complete change of routine and lifestyle, he behaved well. He couldn’t settle for long on the first evening, wandering around the house and checking everything out. He viewed the log burner with trepidation – unlike Pip, who sprawls herself right in front of it – and when we turned on the TV, he shot out of the room. The news programmes have the same effect on me these days.

Pip wasn’t thrilled about our temporary guest but, after an initial growl at the interloper, she largely ignored him. We kept the two in separate rooms overnight and The Boss slept part of last night on the sofa, to keep Dusty company when he cried for attention. I didn’t hear a peep of any of this, sleeping through it all. It may have been sleep time for us but the hours of darkness are when outdoor cats are most active.

The weather’s not as cold today as it’s been of late and we’ve seen some sunshine. As I write, Dusty has gone back outside to his natural habitat. In a short while from now, he’ll be waiting with the other outdoor cats for his dinner.

As much as we’d like to keep him indoors until the biopsy results arrive, our vet didn’t know how long they’ll take – and Dusty would not appreciate an extended stay indoors. Not sure The Boss would appreciate another night on the sofa either!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021