Never a dull moment with Pip

Never usually one to miss a meal…

It’ll be three years in September since the kitten we named Pip arrived in our lives. She’s still very much like a kitten (albeit a rather plump one): playful, inquisitive, and ready to eat anything in sight. Every day she does things to make us laugh and remind us how fortunate we are that somehow she turned up at our finca. But yesterday we feared we had lost her…

Pip when she first arrived three years ago.

Cat-astrophe?

Pip seems to be a bit of a petrolhead: she loves to get into cars. One morning earlier this year she didn’t turn up for her breakfast; this was not usual Pip behaviour, as she always appears to be starving in the mornings, but we assumed she was sleeping off a busy night doing feline stuff. Some time later, The Boss called me and pointed out of the kitchen window at our car. Standing up on the driver’s seat inside, with her front paws on the side window, was Pip. The Boss had been cleaning the car out the previous evening and Pip had managed to hide herself away in it while all the doors and hatchback were open – and had spent the night trapped inside. As you may imagine, there was a little more cleaning to be done afterwards…

We’ve been super-careful ever since. If friends come to visit, or we have a delivery or tradesman calling, we’ve always made sure that Pip hasn’t somehow managed to get into their vehicle.

Chill-out furniture delivery; not-so-chilled cat mum!

Do not disturb.

Yesterday we had a delivery of some new chill-out furniture for the terrace. The two guys who brought the stuff left the large van’s back doors open while they were carrying the items from the drive to the back terrace. As well as our furniture, there were protective blankets and other stuff inside the van. It was another hot day so we assumed Pip would be asleep somewhere on our land.

It was only later, as we were having lunch outside, I remembered that we hadn’t asked the delivery men to check the back of the van for a feline squatter before they left. Had she jumped up through the open doors into the back of the van? Was she on her way to who-knows-where?  We abandoned lunch and repeatedly called out to Pip; usually she appears when she hears us (in the expectation of food). We even shook the large plastic box that contains the cats’ biscuits. Nada.

Stowaway alert

At this point I had a mini-meltdown, imagining her trapped in the van and what would happen when the doors were opened – either back at the store or on another delivery somewhere. The consequences didn’t bear thinking about but that didn’t stop me thinking about them! I phoned the store to alert them to the possibility of a stowaway in the van and the helpful woman there rang the drivers to warn them.

Needless to say, after an afternoon of anxiety, Pip turned up later in the day for her dinner. I went outside and there she was stretched out under our car. We’ve never been as pleased to see her as we were last evening.

“What was all the fuss about, hooman?”

Cats can be such a worry sometimes … or maybe it’s just that this cat-mum worries too much about them!

©Jan Edwards 2017

A trio of birthday cats

Yesterday was the fourth birthday of three of our ‘glaring’ – the small community of cats that have made our finca in rural Mallorca their home. Jetta – a black cat that had ‘adopted’ us early in 2011 – had already produced a litter of four kittens at the end of March 2011. Two of those – Beamer and Dusty – are still with us.

Before we knew it, Jetta was pregnant again and this time there were five kittens produced on July 31st, 2011 – although it was some weeks before we had a glimpse of any of them. Her first nursery had been the old ruined casita on the other side of an old wall at the end of our field. For her next litter, she chose a different spot, but still close by, so that she could return to our place for her twice-daily meals and source of water, without leaving her little ones alone for long.

Of the second litter, we still have Nibbles, Chico, and Sweetie. Nibbles is very communicative and loves human company; one of his favourite activities is jumping onto a lap and being stroked. When he’s had enough he has a way of letting you know – which is why we changed the original name we’d given him – Left Patch (imaginative, eh?) to Nibbles.  Chico and Sweetie – even after four years with us – are still quite nervous around humans, but will allow us to stroke them while they are eating.  White Face and Baby Bear – the other two from the second litter – were around for several months before they stopped coming back for their meals.

Black and white kitten

Nibbles at 10 weeks old

Yawning cat

Not a sabre-toothed tiger, but the four-year-old Nibbles mid-yawn.

After the birth of her second litter, Jetta seemed to trust us enough to allow us to stroke her and, if she was in the right mood, pick her up. It wasn’t long before we scooped her up and took her to the vet’s for The Operation. No more kittens for her.

Sadly Jetta is now only a fond memory, as she went off one day and didn’t return. As with White Face and Baby Bear (and Bear from the first litter), we like to think that Jetta went off to find a territory she wouldn’t have to share.

We feel privileged to have had these lovely cats in our lives for the past four years. Here’s to many more – years, not cats!

 

 

 

 

Yet another kitten arrives at our Mallorcan finca

Last Thursday evening we returned late from Palma (where we’d attended La Nit de l’Art with the previous owners of our Mallorcan finca, who are now dear friends). As usual, when we come home late, our glaring of cats – a family of ferals that have adopted us – came to greet us, in the hope of a little more food.  The Boss went out to add some more biscuits to their bowls before we locked up for the night. He’d been outside a few minutes when he called me back out of the house to come and see something.

There, cowering near the dustbin, was a tiny kitten. Another one. Only a few weeks have passed since our last ‘arrival’ – Peanut – left us, presumably in search of a territory of her own.  After her departure, the rest of the cats seemed much calmer:  Peanut had been a bit disruptive to their peaceful lives around our place and, although she’d been with us for around 10 months, they had tolerated rather than enjoyed the presence of the little ginger female.

This latest arrival immediately ran over to us and seemed to be seeking attention. We were  able to stroke it and pick it up. Clearly this was no feral kitten that had wandered away from its mother and become lost. Its ease with humans suggested that this was an unwanted kitten that had been dumped in the countryside and left to fend for itself. This kind of thing happens frequently around here and such cruelty makes me furious . . .

Short shrift from Shorty

The other cats were not impressed. Shorty – who was the first of the ‘outsiders’ to arrive and successfully infiltrated the ‘family’ – surprised us the most, growling at the small kitten in a very aggressive and un-Shorty-like way. He clearly didn’t remember that he was once the scared kitten in need of food and care. We didn’t want to bring the kitten into the house in case it was carrying any disease (we have an elderly Birman living indoors), so for the little one’s safety, we put it overnight into one of our large cat-carrying baskets, along with food, water, and a litter tray.

On Saturday morning we discovered that Itty-Bitty-Kitty (well, we had to call her something) had been sick and seemed to be a little feverish. We had The Boss’s sons staying for the weekend, so I left them at home to have some ‘man-time’ and headed off to the vet’s with the kitten. Our vet always records a name for the animals it treats. Clearly I’d have been there a long time if I had to spell out Itty-bitty-kitty in the Spanish alphabet, so little one became Pip. Easy to spell, and appropriate, given her diminutive size. Yes, it’s another female . . .

A few days’ medication later, Pip seems to have recovered from her virus and is eating well. The vet says she’s about three months old, although she looks very small. Today we are taking her to be vaccinated and for blood tests to make sure there’s nothing nasty lurking within. As for the future, who knows? It will certainly be brighter than if Pip hadn’t found a feline-friendly place to hide . . .

The latest arrival

The latest arrival

Chilling out on the terrace.

Chilling out on the terrace.

Such a small creature in The Boss's arms.

Such a small creature in The Boss’s arms.

 

 

 

 

A Mallorcan moggy mystery

Something weird has happened. And I don’t like it when something strange cannot be logically explained.

When we took on the role of ‘adopted parents’ to some Mallorcan feral cats, we decided that we would have them all neutered when they reached the appropriate time. On Tuesday it was the turn of Peanut, the tiny ginger kitten that arrived – seemingly from nowhere – at the end of October 2013.

The Boss delivered her to the vet’s in the morning for the operation. The veterinary nurse pointed out the nick in Peanut’s ear – it looks as though she’d either been in a fight or had the defect at birth. The Boss explained it had been there when she arrived. The nurse called in one of the vets to look at it, and then a second. The trio of animal experts informed The Boss that a nick in the ear like this is usually an indication that a feral cat has been neutered.

Peanut was no more than two months when she arrived at our finca – and probably more like a month – so surely sterilization was unlikely? A battle scar or birth defect seemed more likely. The vets took her to the operating theatre.

Patient discharged . . .

When we collected her a few hours later, we had some very surprising news: Peanut had already been sterilized – as our vet discovered when he opened up our little bundle of fun. He sewed up the wound and sent her home.

Of course, we’re delighted that Peanut isn’t facing a few days of discomfort, medication and convalescence in our annexe bedroom – but we cannot understand how a tiny kitten of probably less than two months of age came to be neutered.

Have you ever come across anything like this before? We certainly haven’t.

Homeward-bound Peanut, sporting a cute leopard-print plaster on her leg.

Homeward-bound Peanut, sporting a cute leopard-print plaster on her leg.

 

What do you give a cat on its birthday? A fishcake!

They say the old jokes are the best. They lie, of course. Corny jokes aside, Beamer and his blue-eyed brother Dusty – two of the glaring (love that collective noun) of cats that have adopted us – are three years old today. It hardly seems possible that three years have passed since the memorable day they came into the world.

On this date in 2011, their heavily pregnant mum Jetta – a feral who’d adopted us – was huge, clearly uncomfortable and showing signs of going into labour. She kept wandering off, then returning to the front door of our house to mew at us in an agitated fashion.

She seemed to want us to follow her down the field, which we did – with her stopping every few seconds and looking back to see if we were still with her. It was quite an emotional moment when she struggled up onto the wall and turned to miaow at us as if to say “I’ll be OK now”, before disappearing to the place she’d chosen for her happy event, in the abandoned casita in the neighbouring field.

Four little bundles of joy

Post-delivery, Jetta came daily for her food, as usual, but it would be quite a few weeks before we saw her kittens: four tiny scraps of furry fun, who obligingly came to meet us for the first time while my dad was holidaying with us.

The little female – a dark tabby – sadly died in an accident in the lane while very young. The Boss buried her at the bottom of our field, just yards from where she’d come into the world.  Bear, the black cat, was with us for a lot longer but eventually went off one day and never returned. We like to think he’s out there, walking on the wild side, and still looking like a mini panther.

Home sweet home for the brothers

Today, only Beamer and Dusty remain of those four kittens, but they are very much part of our feline family and at home around our finca. And we had them both neutered as soon as they were old enough, as our contribution to keeping the local feral cat population in check.

I won’t be making fishcakes for Beamer and Dusty today. I’m sure they’re happy with their cat food and the local fast food (the vermin that’s not fast enough to avoid being caught!). But I may just make fishcakes for our own dinner. And that’s not a joke . . .

A relaxed Beamer in summer

A relaxed Beamer in summer

Dusty perched on the balustrade - surveying the glaring's territory.

Dusty perched on the balustrade – surveying the glaring’s territory.

 

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

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!