Pip’s rite of passage

We’ve had friends from the UK staying for eight nights at our finca in rural Mallorca and, during their time here, they have been entertained in fine style by Pip, the kitten that appeared to have been dumped just inside our main gates last September. She is the most lively and hilarious kitten I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience, and her antics never fail to make us laugh.

Tiny kitten on Mallorca

Pip on the morning after her arrival in September 2014.

Because we already had a well-established ‘family’ of outdoor feral cats and our own elderly Birman living indoors, we initially considered finding another home for her. But Pip is still with us – and delighting us with her antics on a daily basis.

During our friends’ visit, Pip’s life changed dramatically: she became an outdoor cat full-time. As much as The Boss and I might have liked to have her safely indoors every night, it’s not really practical and, as we discovered this week, it’s not what she wants.

Pip’s ‘apartment’

Until this week, she had been spending her nights in the bathroom of our guest annexe, where we set up a cat basket with blankets, a couple of cardboard boxes (because kittens just love them), her food and water dishes, litter tray, and a couple of toys. (We removed the loo roll from its holder in the early days of her occupation, after finding the whole roll unwound and totally shredded one morning; it looked like a snow scene in there).

We wanted to keep her indoors at night until she had grown to a good size, and become fully accepted by the other cats. And, of course, we had to have her sterilized before she started roaming and sharing her favours with any passing tom.

We’ve ‘put her to bed’ every evening as it’s started to get dark and she’s always been enthusiastic about entering her little ‘apartment’ for the night. In fact she’d become quite possessive about the annexe and, if either The Boss or I went to fetch something from these rooms, would race ahead of us to the door, almost like a teenager saying ‘That’s my room – keep out!’

But over the past fortnight she’s been showing less inclination to be indoors at night and more interest in being outside playing with her new ‘adopted’ siblings.

Pip’s big adventure

One night this week there was no sign of Pip at the appointed hour and, although we looked several times for her before we headed to our own bed, we didn’t see her again until the next morning, when she was waiting at the door for her breakfast – none the worse for her Big Night Out.

We have now put her basket outside under the covered terrace, in case she wants some familiar comforts, and leave our dining room window shutter open so she can curl up in the recess – one of her favourite chill-out spots.

 

Tortoiseshell kitten in window

Pip in the dining room window recess – a favourite place to watch the world go by.

Pip has shown no further interest in her former part-time home and seems to be loving her new-found independence. It was good timing actually, as my uncle will soon be making it his temporary home for his spring holiday . . . after I’ve given it a very big spring clean!

 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas from rural Mallorca

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This photo would have included either Pip – the latest kitten to join our feline family – or Minstral, our elderly Birman. But they both declined to pose in front of the Christmas tree for the camera. Well, they do say never work with children and animals . . .

A Merry Christmas to you and thank you for reading Living in rural Mallorca during 2014. Feliz Navidad, or Bon Nadal, as they say in these parts.

 

 

 

New kitten on the block

I’ve been searching for it all around our finca in rural Mallorca, but I can’t find it. I’m talking about the sign that says ‘Homeless and hungry cats, this way’, with an arrow pointing towards our place. There must be one somewhere . . .

In my last post I wrote about Shorty – who arrived at our finca as a tiny starving kitten in August 2012, but is now a thriving (in this case, a euphemism for slightly overweight) ginger cat. Although he was very small and frail when he first turned up, he was determined to become part of our feral feline family and resisted all attempts by the other cats to dissuade him. His tenacity paid off: he now has a bunch of adopted ‘siblings’ who are as close to him as they are to each other.

The ginge with a whinge

After completing that last blog post, I went outside to the front of the house and stood on the terrace in the unusually warm October sunshine to gaze over our land. Which is when I heard a persistent mewling coming from some shrubs. Minutes later I saw the source: a pale ginger kitten, probably a couple of months old. When I called The Boss out to see it, he said that earlier he’d heard a stationary car, with its engine idling, further up the lane. By the time he’d been out to have a look (we don’t get many unfamiliar cars using our lane), the vehicle had gone. We both suspect that whoever was in the car probably dumped the kitten on our land.

We’ve been feeding it since then and it lets us know when it’s hungry by means of a loud and persistent squealing outside. So loud that we no longer need to set an alarm to wake us up in the mornings.

Our other cats are not at all impressed, hissing at the kitten when it attempts to approach any of them. Ironically, the cat that has most taken against the newcomer is Shorty – who only 14 months ago was doing much the same thing as this latest little interloper.

We’re hoping that the kitten – which could be a female (and will therefore need to be sterilized at an appropriate time) – won’t upset the happy dynamics of our adopted cat family. Only time will tell.

Making itself at home - despite the less than warm welcome from the other cats

Making itself at home – despite the less than warm welcome from the other cats

Each to his own . . .

This will do nicely

Although Mallorca has recently been enjoying some mild autumn weather – complete with glorious blue skies and warm sunshine – the rest of this week is expected to be wet and, at times, very cold. I even heard the ‘minus’ word mentioned in connection with temperatures on IB3 TV’s weather forecast – and am hoping that because it’s broadcast in mallorquin, I might have misunderstood what the forecaster was saying!Winter on the way

Like seasoned country folk, we prepared ourselves for winter a while ago. We have been to our local woodyard to stock up with logs for the woodburner, had diesel delivered for the generator and, of course, now have roof insulation – which should make this winter a lot less difficult than in previous years.

Our outdoor cat family is also preparing for the worst, by seeking out – and claiming as their own – the cosy little nooks that will give them shelter from inclement weather. Last winter The Boss created a set of ‘apartments’ for the feline family, from some redundant old pine cabinets. With the addition of a few old cushions, these little shelters should keep the cats cosy again this winter.

Room for a little one?

This year, there’s an extra cat to accommodate: Shorty, the cute ginger kitten that came into our lives in August, and memorably bit (twice) The Boss’s finger, has made himself completely at home here. He’s still not too sure about the cat apartments, but has claimed the outside recessed area of our small dining room window, between the shutter and the rejas (the traditional iron bars used for security in Spanish windows). An old cork bathmat, cut to shape by The Boss, means he won’t feel the chill of the concrete beneath him.

Once the really cold weather comes though, Shorty won’t be able to resist his favourite place: cosying up to the large black and white male cat Beamer – the mellow-natured alpha male of our outdoor feline family. That’s when yours truly isn’t giving him a cuddle . . .

Got Shorty

Spot the kitten . . .

If you live in the Mallorcan countryside, you can probably expect to be ‘adopted’ by a feral cat or two. We’ve had up to nine outdoor cats living around our finca: a mother and her two lots of offspring. One of the second litter – now more than a year old – recently decided it was a bit crowded around here and left in search of his own piece of Mallorcan paradise. And then there were eight . . . but not for long.

The tiny ginger kitten we spotted under a shrub on our land was even smaller than Harry, the last ginger kitten that had briefly come into our lives. There was no sign of its mother or any siblings and it was clearly starving, as well as terrified. So we put out a dish of kitten food and did our best to make sure that the rest of the cat clan left it alone. After a few days, we noticed that Shorty – we weren’t going to name it, but had to call it something – was dragging a back leg. And despite appreciating the food, it didn’t want anything to do with us.

“We’ll have to get it to the vet somehow,” I said. We located and prepared the cat basket and The Boss set about catching Shorty. After a few failed attempts – I tried not to laugh, honestly – he succeeded. But Shorty had other plans, biting The Boss’s finger – twice – and making an escape.

No trip to the vet’s that day for Shorty. Instead, I drove The Boss into town to have a tetanus shot.