Our routine is cemented now. We wake up, put the kettle on and feed the cats: first our four and then the ferals. And every day without fail the three musketeers (Husky, Zorro and Clem Fandango) are waiting, on top of the car, in the porch, on the sunny veranda behind our house. They are always somewhere. And very keen to have breakfast, especially if it is me serving it (they associate me with canned food, even when I’m bringing dry food!). Call it Pavlovian conditioning if you will.
Until last Monday that is. No Musketeers, not a one. We fed our cats and a couple of other part time feral presences, Bette Davis and Jessie, looked in the usual places for the three boys and then, mystified and a bit worried, got on with our days.
I thought it was a good sign that all three were missing as that suggested they were together, but it was strange, very strange. Dinner time came around and zero Musketeers were in attendance.
Unlikely they would all be run over together I thought, optimistically. More likely they had found an alternative source of food for the day. Had some neighbouring family had a big barbecue of pork or octopus the evening before? Were the boys still licking their chops from the left-overs?
What had changed in the last 24 hours to upset a very ingrained routine?
The big finca had just been cut by our neighbour Roberto, and I went to have a look. Right at the end of it I saw a monochrome figure against the now short grass. That’s Husky! I thought. And then I saw the butterfly cat. Okay, suddenly all was becoming clear as I moved towards the group, oh and there was Clem Fandango. The noise and destruction of Roberto’s industrial-sized strimmer the evening before must have driven a veritable bonanza of unfortunate rodents towards the edge of the finca, where there is a drop away to a terrace below. Those cats had spotted an opportunity and had been trotting up and down the bank preying on the disoriented mice and shrews and had hunted and eaten so many they were full. They must have been lying around in the hay in the lower terrace all day, burping and sleeping off their excesses like a pride of lions. The keen-eyed among you might just spot Husky below.
Later that evening they did come around looking for some kibble, of which I gave them reduced rations, considering. And while they were hanging out on the porch I witnessed the weirdest thing. Zaldi, one of our long haired urbanites, dropped a mouse at Zorro’s feet and Zorro ate it without so much as a request for ketchup. Not only was there a rodent bonanza but there was some intriguing bartering or paying of indulgences going on as well!
The other thing going on recently has been a few unfortunate pregnancies in the feline colony on the other side of the village. More about that later!
We made a very welcome observation recently of some cat food in a bowl in the local town, outside the shop where we were buying a fridge. It turns out there is an old ginger female who comes around every day and waits. She has a collar on but I don't think anyone looks after her apart from Luisa in the shop who feeds her Monday-Friday. Here she is, below. I have this crazy idea she might just be the ginger female we neutered many years ago ... ginger females are very rare after all! I will let you know if she has the classic cut ear showing she has been neutered when I get close again.