My life with cats starting in Australia
Why cats are important in my life
Since I remember, cats have formed part of my life. I was born in Australia in 1950. My Dutch parents emigrated there in 1949. They spent 4 difficult years in this vast country changing home 16 times. There was a time my Father had a job in the Snowy Mountains Project. Mother was sitting some 1000 miles away with me still a small baby. We lived in a small hostel and on the wood veranda were some house cats. My Mother told me I would grab their tails but they never bit or scratched me. This was the beginning of a lifelong love with these amazing creatures.
Bongo, our first house cat
We came back to Holland in 1953 and 2 years later my parents built a house. I had a dolls pram and our cat had babies in there. My first memory is of Bongo, completely black and quite naughty. He was the baby we kept, the others got nice new homes. In the kitchen was a window with a view on the lawn. In our garden lived an old and really big rabbit. He would often come and sit awhile on the lawn nibbling on the grass. My Mother observed this scene from the window and later told me the story.
Bongo was growing up and had become a reckless teenager. That day he had seen the big rabbit, a couple of sizes bigger than this still small cat. Bongo was not conscious of sizes yet so he went on his stomach and started creeping toward the rabbit. Of course, the rabbit had seen him coming and just before Bongo prepared to jump the rabbit turned around and with his back leg gave him a whopper. Bongo made a small salto mortale and was catapulted over the lawn. He was quite dazed not having a clue what had happened. In a corner, he sat down to clean his fur and the look on his face was, this has nothing to do with me.
Bongo and the cake
My Mother often baked delicious cakes. The friends who would come to visit were looking forward to her treats. Mother had made a great cake with a gooey topping of soft chocolate. The cake was standing on the kitchen counter, the quests were nearly there. When Mother came back to the kitchen she found a bare cake, Bongo was licking his whiskers. Well, she had 2 options. No cake for her friends or quickly make a new chocolate spread. That is what she did. Later, after eating the cake, she told the story to her very good friends, they were not amused.
All cats have different characters. I do not know if there is a trick so Bongo would not have jumped on the counter to lick the cake. Still, sometimes one is quite challenged with what cats can do. You might find a solution here. Easy Solutions for Cat Behavior and Health. My parents moved to Italy in 1969 and did not want to stress old Bongo. He found a loving home with my Mothers brother where he lived up to 22 years of age. His last years he stayed mainly indoors as he did not want to fight anymore with young tomcats.
The cats in the south of Spain
I came to the Costa del Sol in 1976 working as a tourist guide for a German company. Each hotel would have cats living in their gardens. In general, the tourists would not mind and even feed them with a little tidbit from the buffet. First I had a hotel room but after half a year I moved to an apartment in Torremolinos. There I met a Finnish artist who lived in a very old house next to the old Mill. The name Torremolinos says it. Torre means tower and Molinos means mills.
In his garden lived a very special cat species. Visualize a street cat married to a Siamese cat. The babies were very unusual, their tails having bizarre forms, it sometimes resembled a corkscrew. Going down the long staircase leading from the center of town to the beach was this mill. It was called La Boveda and the Dutch owner had made it into a flamenco show where the tourists would come in the evening having a drink and enjoying the show.
My company would use this place to offer the newly arrived tourist an informative welcome cocktail. There the guides would inform them about the interesting places to visit, train and bus fares, shopping hours and also other important information one might need in a foreign country.
One day coming down the steps I saw a pretty small cat. It had a long wound on her flank which was nearly healed. I could not resist and took her to my apartment. And that was the beginning of my own cat family. After living with me for quite some weeks she jumped off the balcony into the garden and went for a tour. She came back some days later looking bashful but it was too late already. She was pregnant and when I moved inland to my farm she came along with a bunch of babies.
All my animals have been adopted or perhaps I should say it the other way around. Some of them just adopted me. Helping those that can not help themselves. Cat Care and Adoption of a fur friend.
My Spanish farm
I was still working, there was a lot of space and the cat situation got a bit out of hand. They lived a lovely life here, lots of hunting fun, birds, lizards, mice, and insects. They all would come for breakfast not so much because they were hungry but more a ritual to say hello. They would all sit in front of the kitchen door to the patio. At that time, some 30 years ago I had, if I remember well, close to 20 cats. From young to old and all living in peace, a good example for the world.
That morning when I opened the door to serve breakfast I saw a big mouse sitting next to them I now understand they had put him there for dessert. When I saw that I jumped on him to save him and I was bitten in my hand. Had to go to the first aid station in the village to get a Tetanus shot. One should not interfere in nature and when I did something bad happened, prolonging somebody’s agony. I can tell you a lot of cat stories, some of them really sad but as I want to keep this a happy story, I will refrain.
Fact is that when I fill in my new calendar for the new year a lot of cat names appear with a little cross beside their name. Every year I think shall I continue doing this? And then again I fill in the names of my fur friends who have accompanied me part of my life path. I will now tell you the stories of the cats which are here on my farm now.
She came walking in as a baby in 1995. It is quite amazing she is still alive after all these years. She has become really slow, does not take care of her fur anymore and sometimes does not remember where she is heading. She never had a nice character and after only a few pats would let you know, now it is enough! She comes for breakfast in the storeroom and often she wants to stay there the night. Every morning I brush her but her fur looks awful. As long as she eats, drinks, sleeps and also walks around I let this old lady be. Even if her joys are small, she still has them.
Sasha, the only boy
In Oct 2010 I came home after a lovely holiday in Germany. A few days later, Miguel, my gardener tells me a baby cat was dumped at the main gate, that is 500m away from my home. I asked him how big the cat was and he answered very small. I told him to bring the cat home and there was little Sasha. The vet later told me he was only 4 weeks old. He had to stay in quarantine for 2 months living in the kitchen.
Old Missu has a chronic condition of the cat flu. That means she does not die of it but sneezes now and then. A small baby with only 4 weeks has not a good enough immune system so I had to keep the cats separated. Sasha was my first cat with passport and vaccination card. After being here a few days Cindy came into the kitchen to say hello, it was love at first sight.
Being a tomboy he did naughty things like hanging on the kitchen towel, a funny photo. When he was old enough I had him operated. The vet said to keep him quiet overnight. I thought that the barrier I had put up in the kitchen would be sufficient, well, it was not. While sitting with Cindy in my workroom that evening who came running upstairs, you have guessed right. Sasha recently operated wanted company.
Saved from sure death on the road, Jasmin
I never forget that day. It was a Monday, 9th of Sept 2013. I had planned to go to a big garden center close to Malaga. Instead of taking the road below the town, I left the house some 15 min later than planned and drove through the village. Outside is the bridge of the highway and my road sloped down to pass under. From a distance, I saw a small black spot on my lane, on the moment I passed I realized it had eyes. I stepped on my brakes and stopped in the middle of the road 10m further. The people in the car behind me had stopped just before the black spot.
I ran back and found a tiny cat, picked it up and showed the people in the car. In the meantime, a long line of cars had formed. I made a U-turn, completely forbidden there, and drove back to the other side of the village where Francisco, my vet has his office. I double parked on the street, also forbidden but often seen in Spanish villages and towns. I rushed in yelling “Francisco, Francisco, I have a hurt cat in my car.”
We opened the passenger door but no trace of the cat. Francisco said perhaps he got into your handbag, no cat. We pushed the chairs carefully, still no cat. Looking carefully I suddenly saw a piece of tail sticking out from a small space where you put your feet. I slowly pulled and voila, there she was. Francisco said to come back this afternoon.
I then went on my way to the garden center. On arrival, it turned out to be a holiday in Malaga, so it was closed. Just imagine. Had I known that I would not have left the house till the next day. Then the fact I took the road through the village instead of the down below- road, which I normally do. What do you think about the fact that I left 15 min later, all these “coincidences”? For sure it was meant that Jasmin and I should meet.
When I picked her up she had 7 stitches on a 1 cm wound on her front leg. Jasmin looked as if she had a dirty nose so I softly rubbed till I realized it was a spot. She stayed for 2 months in quarantine in the room next to my workroom. After a few days, I wanted to introduce Cindy. Cindy was so curious and pushed the door open with her nose. Jasmin came flying out of her room and with one big jump landed downstairs. A 3-meter jump down. Nothing happened to her but it gave me a shock.
She repeated her flying skills, with jumping out of her window on the first floor and again nothing happened. When she was still small I saw her chasing a dragonfly. The dragonfly flew over the small fishpond on the patio. Jasmin followed and walked over the water. She was so quick in getting out that her feet hardly got wet.
Jasmin sometimes does naughty things, like climbing through the open bedroom window. There I found her one day lying on the cat quilt, which my best friend Ingrid made for me. She has become a great hunter and sometimes brings me a present. She climbs in the Catalpa tree over the garage roof to sit in front of the window of my workroom. She often brings little birds, lizards, etc, to the office window. If it still wiggles I try to save it but otherwise, I let her stay outside. With Cindy, she is the best of friends and with Sasha, she goes on hunting tours. Old Missu is not amused and wants to be left in peace.
A big white Lady from the U.S. comes to live here, Shugar
When Michael moved to Spain in Aug. 2016, beside his car, motorbike, furniture, and 150 boxes, also Shugar came along. She is a gorgeous looking completely white cat and deaf. She is too big so I sometimes call her Roly Poly but Michael insists she is Rubenesque. She lives upstairs in his workroom and gets her food there. She also has her own toilet and uses it often. It is very important to be informed about Cat Poop, A to Z of Cat Litter. She comes out nearly every day and has slowly but surely gotten used to the place.
My animals still do not understand why this white girl calls so often as they do not know she is deaf. There was a very critical time where we thought we might lose her. You can read about that in my post on Frontline. Be very conscious when you use this product, it is harmful to your pets, dog or cats. I hope I will always be able to have some fur friends in my life. They are the perfect antidote for when you are alone.
Update, April 2019
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Cindy and then old Missu. They have nice places in the garden where they are buried close to each other.
Source: My own life
Photo Source: Private
Perhaps you would like to read this nice story of Buddha.