My Greek kitty crew

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The gift of life

Tiny's startled look says it all...  "Who are you?"

As promised, here's a few images of Benji and Tiny meeting and playing with each other. I know there's nothing original about kittens having fun together, but the beauty of these two little guys playing together is that they simply wouldn't have been here today if it hadn't been for their rescue stories. Tiny first appeared in the garden way back in October where we soon discovered he had a horrible respiratory infection. By chance I'd had the experience of taking a very similar sized kitten to the vet earlier in the year, when a friend of mine had found a tiny kitten dumped by the roadside by humans (it was completely tame) and she asked me if I would take it. It turned out it was emaciated, but because kittens are such little fluff balls it can be extremely difficult to detect. So I soon realized Tiny was in quite a bad shape... mommy kitty no longer showed interest in feeding or caring for him. He constantly sought her affection but got none. It was not an optimistic vet that sent me home with antibiotics, but luckily Tiny's appetite was intact and lots of quality food combined with the antibiotics gave him enough strength to fight back. And as for Benji, well you know the story by now.

What is that Tiny?

So even though there's quite a selection of furry destinies in the garden (each with their unique story), I do of course have a major soft spot for these two heartthrobs (and believe me they are!). 

As mentioned in the last post it was a bit nerve wracking introducing Benji to the other cats around here, and Tiny was the only one who didn't seem too scary for him. They appear to have been born within a few weeks of each other and match perfectly size-wise. 

Watch out, here I come!

These images are from one of their first encounters - at first some startled looks and then some sweet exploring. In the above images Tiny is showing Benji the garden (I belive his first visit ever in a garden!)  and which is the good plants (good smelling for cat nostrils) and not so good (prickly!). 

Benji in mid-air!

Then there was a whole lot of exhilarating rumping around... I chase you then you chase me. Every time they caught up with each other there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that it would be without bites and attacks - only a whole lot of playing. They seem to be at ease with each other and as I've also said, it appears they're good for each others confidence. Tiny is tiny (yes, I know... duh) due to his early life setback and probably has therefore always shied away from confrontation, so this other early-life-beaten-up newcomer is so good for him. And vice versa. It's a little miracle witnessing these two enjoying the gift of life. 

Images ©Joan Rachlitz Bowell

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Postcard from Benji

Benji wishes to pass on his immense gratefulness for the overwhelming kindness that has come his way in terms of good wishes, kisses, hugs and sweet words. I promise - hand over my heart - that every single kiss and hug has been passed on to Benji and his response has been a blissed out purr and little licks on the tip of my nose. It's now three weeks since Benji was rescued and I'm in utter disbelief at how this infinitely tender little soul could possibly have survived a life that hard for as long as he has. He has this fairy like quality about him and I swear there's not a mean bone in his little body. 

This past week he has been introduced to the increasing furry family around this garden and it has honestly been a bit nerve-wracking. There has been a lot of hissing, growling and paw-swiping - yes, poor Benji (I feel so fiercely protective of him). But (melt your heart out!) Tiny has turned out to be a good little friend to Benji. They appear to be roughly the same age and I believe they're good for each others confidence. Tiny's response to threat from other cats has been rolling over with all four paws in the air a la "but don't you just think I'm the most adorable thing you've ever met?" (which does seem to work!). But in Benji's company he's been able to hiss a bit and act BIG and Benji would roll over in exactly the same way as Tiny. So cute. But they would take it in turns and Benji would make a few paw swipes even though it doesn't at all fit his nature. Maybe Benji hasn't had a sibling to have play-fights with (Tiny and Ninja play-fight all the time) because he just simply is so gentle. Anyway... I promise there will be images of Benji and Tiny together in the next post.

A special thanks to Marg and Sunshine for your sweet mention of Gods Little People this past week. It's been a delight to share especially the story of Benji with so many. 

Image © Joan Rachlitz Bowell

Monday, March 21, 2011

The story of Benji

Notice the large abcess on the right side of this little face.

This is the story of the rescue of Benji. Benji and I have a curious sense of destiny together. He is a dumpster kitten that I first noticed just before Christmas. He was very small, shy but had a very loud and penetrating miaow (that should have given more than a clue!). He lived among other feral cats and seem to survive off a few dry pellets and some food scraps left by some individual at the dumpster. I felt tempted on several occasions to snap him but I thought someone must have some connection to him because he was so sweet and friendly after a bit of warming up. Unfortunately, because there are so many cats here, some people take in kittens when they are little, cute and irresistible just to discard them when they become bigger and loose that kitten cuteness. There is always a new cute kitten waiting in line! 

In great pain!

Well, I'm not quite sure what Benji's story is but only on some occasions would I drive past the dumpster where he used to live, because I couldn't stand that image of him always sat on the same narrow ledge up on a wall just by the dumpster running right by the road. 

He is an approx. 16-18 week young cat/kitten that was captured for the recent large scale neutering project which took place here on the island. I didn't know he was one of them but only discovered it after I finally rescued him at the beginning of March. Because this was the first neutering project ever on this island, there was no actual after care unit set up for the neutered cats. This meant that they stayed overnight in someones garage and was released by the dumpsters the very next morning after their neutering. As you might know, you would normally be advised to keep your cat indoor for some days after an operation/neutering because it makes them vulnerable and therefore easy targets for attacks from other animals. Well, Benji was both little, sick and had just been neutered - so he was probably an easy target for whichever animal mauled him within days of his neutering. I found him one evening where I quite out of the ordinary happened to walk past the dumpster where he normally sat. He miaowed and miaowed and was quite obviously in pain. He had horrible bite wounds all over, sneezed constantly and his eyes were all watery. I knew he needed urgent medical help and it wasn't an easy decision to leave him until the next day, but I decided to give it until the next morning because the vet had already closed for the day and it would give whoever might have "cared" for him an extra chance to bring him to the vet. But of course - no surprise... he was still there the next morning crying out for help. 

So I rushed him to the vet where it was discovered upon closer examination that he had a large abcess a quarter the size of his head. He was taken into surgery on the spot where the abcess was flushed and he had his bite wounds stitched up. Afterwards I brought him home and settled him into a small quiet room of his own, so he could heal and recover in the warmth of a well padded box.

In safety inside his very own box

Well, things went well to begin with. Benji was sweet and ever so grateful. He kept rubbing my nose and purring madly whenever I handled him. He ate well for about a day and a half but then I think the actual effects of his trauma and horrible flu took over. He stopped eating and drinking. On the second day of no food and water he was brought to the vet once again to have a saline infusion and a new antibiotic treatment - this time to cure the flu. Now he actually had to be force fed (quite unpleasant) and I had to inject squirts of water into his mouth. On the fourth morning of no food and water I felt quite discouraged felt that maybe he'd lost his will to keep fighting. 

 8 days later  - wounds having healed beautifully

But... suddenly (I am convinced he must have felt how desperate I was on his behalf) he started eating ever so small nibbles of his food. I almost cried because I really felt he did it for me. But this was the beginning of Benji's recovery. From the on he gradually began to eat more and more - and drank too. I kept going with his twice a day antibiotics and thrice a day eyedrops. We had lovely little special times with eye/facial/body washes with camomille tea  (he was to poorly to take care of himself). But Benji eventually started preening himself again and did a marvelous job making his asphalt grey and dirty tummy a once again splendid pale peachy color. 

Benji and his play blanket

Since then he has just gotten stronger and stronger. He has figured out what a cat toy is for (he couldn't quite understand what playing was to begin with!). And he LOVES his play blanket. Tuck it slightly and he makes a delightful leaping jump. He is every bit as DARLING as the above image portrays. Just such a gentle little thing. 

15 days later breathing in the fresh air in the garden

The above image is from a few days ago when he had his first little trip outside once again. He liked the fresh air but loved running back into his little room again. I think it is a great part of his healing knowing he has a place to run and hide and where he knows he will be cared for with proper food, water and tons of tender loving care. 

I don't know why it took me so long to rescue Benji - he is a very special one. Can you believe the above images is actually the same cat?? I keep staring at them in disbelief. Isn't he beautiful?!

Images © Joan Rachlitz Bowell

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How much is that kitty in the window?


I was going about my business a few days ago when I suddenly got stopped flat in my tracks. I walked past a seafront (pretty dead-beat to be honest) tourist shop. The shop itself is a bit dull and dark and you frankly can't make your way around the shop from the sheer load of touristy junk. BUT... the man who owns the shop obviously loves his cat. This little kitty usually putters around on the sidewalk in front of the shop and the owner spends a lot of his time standing outside just chatting with passers-by and smiling each time someone acknowledges his little shop mascot. Yes, I know what the shop looks like inside because I went in there one day because, in my mind, any one with such an attitude towards his cat (particularly in this part of the world where you don't see it much) deserves support. I have often smiled and thought that the cat had a kind of drawing power - you want to go inside because the cat leads you in. But I didn't know he was capable of such clever selling tricks too :-) When I walk passed the other day he was just climbing the shop window shelves and found himself this perfect spot which made it seem like he was part of the window display (don't you think?). I caught the moment with my mobile camera and found it amusing to find this multilayered image when I downloaded it. I only had my eyes on the kitty and didn't realize that I also caught the whole seafront life (people, motorbike, car, ferry and even a small island) in the background mirrored in the window. But isn't he just darling!?!

Image © Joan Rachlitz Bowell

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Never ending stripes...


A few weeks back someone kindly asked about how Tiny is doing. Tiny and his brother are doing very well and they have become a charming addition to the garden landscape. They goof around and entertain on the terrace on a daily basis and almost tumble inside the kitchen every morning when I open the door to feed them. It’s hard to believe they’re the same extremely feral kittens I spotted in the garden almost 4 ½ months ago. Now I’m able to stroke them whilst they eat (yes, a little bribe goes a long way!). When Tiny was at his worst with a serious respiratory infection I made a little video of him and his brother. I actually had to erase the video because it was too painful to watch. Tiny shied away when his brother jumped on him wanting to play – he was simply too weak to play. But… today they jump on each other, fly through the air and perform all kinds of silly (and sometimes naughty tricks). They’re delightful!

Trying to take a pic of Tiny!

The other day I took a few shots of them having a leisurely time on the terrace. As you can see – Tiny didn’t get his name for nothing. Brother Ninja has (we like to joke) three more stipes than other tabby kitties. I was in the middle of taking a few shots of Tiny when the never-ending stripes interfered. 

Ninja is like a tabby who comes in three instalments… front, miiiiiddle and back. Just have a look for yourself!

Images ©Joan Rachlitz Bowell