Dinner Next-door and two Cat Stories

Last night, as I said in today’s other post, our friendly neighbours, P and M, invited us over for a delicious homebaked dinner. Yummmmm….

Through them, we learned a little about the history of our house and a little about their/our cat.

When we arrived, P handed me a page torn out of an old magazine, dating back to December 1994. There was a picture in there of the pre-previous owner of our house, holding a very bushy black cat with yellow eyes. The caption identified it as “Supreme Champion Shahden Skyhy Breakdancer – winner of the Pamper Cat of the Year Competition, with proud owner, Mrs D D of Pinelands”.

This was such a wonderful surprise! We had in fact met Mrs D just after we moved into our house in 2004. She had been gracious enough to give us old photos of what the garden had looked like during her years there. It had been a breathtakingly beautiful, neatly kept and lusciously colourful garden, and she had apparently won a prize with it in a local garden competition. During the intervening 2-3 years when other people stayed here, however, the garden ‘decayed’ into a wild and overgrown jungle. Once we’d seen how stunning it could look, we so wanted to return it to its former glory days, but alas, neither of us is a garden-wizard, so it is still a learning experience.

P told us a bit about the big black Persian cat (Breakdancer) that used to stay in our back garden. In the one back corner of our garden stand two dilapidated wendy houses. Although these were no doubt really pretty in the beginning, they now reek of dog and cat pee, are draped in cobwebs and covered with thick layers of dirt and grime, and the roof of the one has partly collapsed because the rain got in. Sigh. When we moved in, the two wendy houses were surrounded by a cage of green mesh wire, subdivided into a front section and a back section with an interleading door. We removed this cage a while back to open up the space a bit more – and to make it easier to move the wheelbarrow and our bicycles in and out. There is also a roof, made of that hard-wearing plastic that you get over carports and patios. This whole run-down area will have to be reconceptualised in the future, but that is a whole new story…

This, apparently, was where the Persian lived. It was a male cat, very highly pedigreed, and it was not allowed outside the cage, or into the garden or into the house. According to P, the cat often made a very strange sound, which sounded almost like a child crying; when they first moved in, they found this crying and mewling very disturbing, particularly at night-time, until they found out that it was actually a cat. The Persian’s sex-life was also strictly controlled – it was not allowed to roam about, in case it bred with other female cats – perhaps this would have reduced its virility? Other owners of equally high-pedigree cats came from far and wide to breed with him. It must have been an odd kind of life…

And then they told us howTuffy had come to them. A number of years ago, P had worked for the Robin Trust, which had their head office in Oude Molen Eco-Village, just around the corner from Pinelands. As their website explains:

“The Robin Trust was established as a Christian, charitable and welfare Trust (non-profit organisation) in 1993 in order to serve the community by providing effective, affordable and readily available support and community-based care within a primary health care model. The Trust aims to uplift people who are educationally disadvantaged through training in health care and nursing as well as job creation. Our target client groups are people who are vulnerable and these are increasingly the children and adults (including the elderly) infected and affected by HIV/AIDS as well as the disorders of old age such as Alzheimer’s dementia and conditions such as strokes.”

There were many cats living in this area – it’s a rural oasis in the middle of a metropolis, so it must be kitty paradise. Most of these cats were feral (wild) and thus unlikely ever to be domesticated and re-homed. But a few compassionate people were looking after them and making sure that they were fed regularly. At some stage, immigrants from central Africa started to move into the area, and they – gruesomely – regarded the cats as food. The cat population thus declined.

The Robin Trust had its own resident male cat (Simba, I think), who vigorously defended its territory, never allowing another cat to come into the offices.

One day, however, Simba marched into the offices, with a small, starved-almost-to-death young female cat in tow. They picked her up, checked her out, realised that she was sick and very hungry, and that she would not survive if they left her to fend for herself. She seemed to have had a litter of kittens, but P doesn’t know what happened to them.

What was so amazing to me is the thought that the big boss-cat had brought the younger one into his own space, in order to make sure that it had a chance to survive.

So that is the heartwarming story of how Tuffy (appropriately named) was rescued from certain death.

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