My Greek kitty crew

Monday, May 30, 2011

Whilst I get my camera ready...

So all kinds of sweetness is happening in the garden - two tiny strangers - aka Twinkle and Emma - has met and sized each other up (so cute). They are such a perfect size match and they each need someone their size to play with, so we're keeping fingers crossed that they will develop a friendship. Even though Twinkle is beginning to take on playing with some of the bigger guys it's evident that his confidence rose a few levels when he saw Emma. They each did a little hiss and made their tiny tails big and bushy - but then they agreed to jump and skip a bit together. Mommy kitty is s bit confused - she can't quite figure out if Emma is one of her own lost kittens, so she both hisses at her and seem to want to protect her from the big guys. Anyhow... until I get some batteries for my camera I'll leave you with this melting moment found on Youtube. From what I can gather it's been uploaded only a few days ago but has already been watched more than 13 million times! Seems there's a big need for awww in the world. So 'till next... hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ask, and it shall be given to you...


We've only just gotten through trying to settle teensy Twinkle in his new surroundings (surrounded by cats much bigger than him - and he is doing great in the company of his big brothers) before this (above) complete and utter heartbreaker cried its way into our lives just a few days ago.

Sunday morning whilst doing some gardening I suddenly heard a very loud and penetrating kitten cry from what sounded like our neighbors huge water tank (yes, oh horror!). As the neighbor hasn't actually moved in yet I instantly ran across to check where the sound came from. When I got there the sound had stopped and since I probably honestly didn't want the sound to come from the water tank I walked back. Only to hear the same sound about 45 minuttes later - and there really wasn't any doubt about where it came from. This time I insisted my husband came to help out with finding a ladder that was tall enough to go the whole way down the water tank. This time when we called out there was a desperate cry back. We had no idea how deep the water was but as we lowered the ladder we figured that the water "luckily" was only about ankle deep. My dear better half instantly climbed down the ladder and soon found this tiny kitten (about 9-10 weeks old) paddling around the water. Acting swiftly he grabbed the kitten, made his way up the ladder and suddenly cried out in pain... the panicked-senseless kitten had done what it knew best - to bite hard! He quickly handed me the kitten and same thing happened! It bit me hard (blood streaming) so I instinctively had to let it go. From the day long drama that then ensued I couldn't believe I'd made such a (as Monica from Friends would say) rookie mistake. Why on earth didn't I think to bring a transport box to place the kitten in??? Anyhow... the terrified kitten ran straight into a nearby waterpipe leading straight into the water tank where it had just been rescued from! And then it just sat there again hiding... and crying and crying and crying. It appeared to be a feral kitten not at all interested in human contact. After a long while we decided to just leave some food and come back later. I have to say I felt kind of desperate because even if it found it's way out I didn't think it would stand a chance on it's own. I've never heard of kittens that small roaming around.

Well, we came back a few hours later and found it had indeed eaten a bit of food and seemingly backed into the pipe again. The food had only been eaten from one side! And sure enough we heard it's cry again when we came back. Only this time it had made it's way up into another pipe (yes, can you imagine the agony!?) and it kept poking it's little head out only to retreat at the speed of lightning. It seemed that no way were we gonna catch it. Feeling somewhat defeated and rather desperate we went back to our house. I SO badly wanted to figure a way to rescue it - so I asked God to provide me with a solution. I kid you not, but a moment later I came up with the following idea. Only one thing could get it out of the pipes, which would be the sound of it's kitty mom calling it. Only that she obviously wasn't anywhere nearby (otherwise she for sure would have come to it's rescue long ago). So I got this idea to go on Youtube and search for a kitty mom calling her kittens and to record it onto my iPhone and to then play it down the pipes (yes, crazy girl... I know!). Thanks to all the weird and wonderful downloads on Youtube I did indeed find a kitty mom calling it's kittens. So back to the pipes I went with the downloaded sound on my iPhone and I swear that I almost jumped back in chock at the LOUD and instant response from the kitten. It was as if it appeared in a flash right in front of the opening. Crying desperately for it's mom to come and rescue it. It was acutally truly heartbreaking. I had to keep playing the recording for it to stay close - only that at some point it obviously got confused and thought she had to be at some other pipe opening since she wasn't coming inside to rescue it. After it having a few frantic runing to and fro inside the various pipe-openings I decided it was time to catch it, so I put down some more food and kept the recording going. It appeared, retreated, appeared, retreated and then I knew I had to make a fast and decisive swipe at the scruff of it's tiny neck. And bingo! - safely inside the box it went.

Back home I tried to see if our garden kitty mom (who'd recently lost some of her kittens) would show any interest, but unfortunaly she only sniffed the box, hissed and walked away. So there was no other thing to do than to let it recuperate in a warm quiet place with food and water until we could bring it to the vet the next morning. Turned out she was fine in spite of her ordeal. After her treatment for worms, fleas and earmites we brought her back - and in all honesty thinking it would be weeks before we could handle this seemingly wild feral kitten. Well, this is where my astute assistant (as my husband so endearingly calls himself) really gained his certificate :-) He firmly lifted the tiny kitten into his hands and after a brief struggle it began to purr!!!! My jaws dropped a little bit (a lot actually) - this was brilliant news. We were able to cuddle it. It was obviously terrified, but as long as it was gently but firmly handled it would purr. In the top image you can see my super talented assistant in action - and the girl is purring blissfully! Her name is Emma by the way.

Here she is having a rightfully carefree kitten moment again - fiercely tackling and killing a straw :-) She had the most sad, abandoned and painful look on her face when we first looked at her, but now - a few days later, I think she has gotten the hang of that she will be loved to bits.

It's a blessing that we can handle her but from my (maybe limited) experience, feral kittens won't let you anywhere nearby. This leaves us with a rather obscure feeling as to how she ended up in the water tank in the first place. No other houses nearby where she could have come from.

Anyway... I'm thrilled this girl has such strong lungs. I simply cannot bear to think of her fate otherwise. She's taugth me a lesson about not letting my fear hold me back (I dreaded to find a kitten in that water tank) - and to not be indecisive when you're dealing with someone in urgent need of help (I feared hurting her when grabbing her tiny neck). In a very brief moment I actaully felt that my indecisiveness could've cost her life, which was enough to cause a clear cut decision.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The darling moments

If you're familiar with the story in the last post you will know that Twinkle - portrayed here - is the only survivor of a  kitten litter of (at least what we know of) four kittens. I actually held all four kittens in my hands at some point so you can imagine my  sense of inadequacy and loss realising that indeed three of these kittens hadn't made it. No trace whatsoever of what happened to them.

A few years back I met a lady who does some very inspiring work for people in lesser circumstances. I heard her talking about how fierce she felt about their rights for a proper (and not a lesser) life. She talked about some of the things they were up against in life and  she used a set of words about her fighting stance to protect them and about avoiding things happening to them and the words are not on my watch. The words inspired me so much - that's how I felt about anything possibly happening to animals... not on my watch!

So yes, I have to admit that I felt some pain and grief about what could possibly have happened to these tiny kittens on what felt like my watch. Even though the nature areas around here are vast and kitty mom seemingly kept moving them around. But it felt like they were just a few arm reaches away. I've had a tough time trying to figure what could possibly have happened to these tiny critters. 

Anyhow, Twinkle is being a real brave-heart. He is taking on making the young cats his play mates. He observes them from a distance when they play and sometimes dare an encounter with one of them. And it's as if the young cats knows this little guy needs some extra care, gentleness and attention (even though he is in fact a new "cat" in their territory). Throughout the week I've observed them lick his little face, sniffing him, gently saying hello with paws touching, allowing him to eat next to them and carefully playing with him. There's been so many awww moments... and also a few paw swipes. But Twinkle never runs away - he just shakes his little head and jumps straight back into "the ring." Luckily mommy kitty is fiercely protective - she's made quite a few swipe-backs on Twinkles behalf. It's like she is teaching them manners and they all listen when she scolds them. 

In this image above it's Tiny allowing his (directly blood-related) brother to feel as if he has the upper hand. So darling sweet...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A place where nature is brute

One of his very first "real" meals.

Yes, this is of course what I was talking about as the special treat for you! The very newest and teensy little member of this garden colony - his name is Twinkle. And yes... there's a story behind why he is all on his own - apart from mommy kitty. 

A timid little look for the adoring photographer

A while back I met a French women who has lived here for many years. She said that what she loved most about the place here is that it is so beautiful in a brute (said with a French accent!) kind of way. And it's very true. Where I personally see and feel it most is with the animals. It's survival of the fittest. When you come from a more - shall we call it culturally civilised place, it's oh so difficult to not get your emotions tangled up in that particular kind of "theatre". 

A little lick after a tasty meal.

Well, Twinkle started out with 3 or 4 siblings. I knew they were somewhere within the vicinity of our garden, because it's the same kitty mom that fostered Tiny and Ninja (they've even got the same father). She never let me in on where she hid them until one evening of torrential rain (which we've had a lot of in recent time). It was a noisy evening with strong winds and heavy rain. Suddenly through all the noise I heard this distinct high pitched cry. I instantly knew something was wrong - mommy kitty wouldn't bring the kittens nearby because of all the other cats in the garden. And yet... I didn't doubt what this sound was. I grabbed a torch light and flew out the door and went towards where the noise came from. Suddenly I saw this wee little thing dropped on a slope not far from a caravan in the garden (we keep little compartments open for the cats to sleep and seek refuge during cold weather). It was completely and utterly rain-battered and had clearly not yet learned to walk. It was actually a highly distressing situation... kitty mommy was obviously in the middle of some desperate rescue mission of her litter - they were probably getting drowned whereever it was she had made her den. She had such a wild and manic look in her eyes that I couldn't even recognise her to begin with. 

- and a little wash after the tasty meal. 

Well, I quickly got my husband involved. He listened out for more cries whilst I dried and tucked the first kitten in an empty compartment with blankets. Suddenly there was another faint cry and with no time to spare we both jumped over fences across neighboring fields. Eventually we spotted kitty mom with another kitten in hear mouth... I knew it was too far for her to carry it without taking way too long to go for the rest of her kittens so I deliberately followed her letting her know I would carry it to safety. She eventually dropped it and when she saw I'd brought it to safety she went off once again. 

Mmm... maybe it's time for a little nap.

After she'd brought the 3rd rain-battered kitten to safety, she actually jumped inside the compartment and we thought it was time to leave her alone. We'd dried them as well as we could - and we actually each sat with a wet and very cold kitten under our shirt to keep them warm, whilst kitty mom went to get the 3rd kitten. When we heard her approach we quickly tucked the kittens back in and left as soon as she seemed to settle.

Ooh yum... a wash from momma.

The next few days the weather was warm and sunny and I kept my fingers crossed that she would keep them in there even though I doubted it with all the many cats around. Yes, as you can imagine... I was very fond of the idea that she kept them just there where I could observe them from a small distance. But alas...

... and to finish it all off with a bit of milk, bliss.

Two days later there was suddenly a small cry again... and it became evident she was in the middle of finding them another place to hide. I badly wanted to bring them back but realised it was natures way. A week went by and I didn't see any signs of kittens. Another week went by and suddenly one evening one kitten was sat in one of the boxes where some of the younger cats normally sleep. I had a horrible sinking feeling that it might be the last one. This happened twice - it appeared in the box and was removed again. I believe it was kitty mommas way of letting me know that she was going to raise it in the garden with the other young cats (Tiny, Ninja, Benji - well and not so young Mr. Moggles) - and could I please start feeding it some proper food.  

This has gone on for a few days now - Twinkle has his own little bowl tucked under some of the wild flowers a little bit away from the bigger cats until he gets used to them and they get used to him. I do so hope he makes it. He is a bit vunerable being on his own when kitty mom takes a little roam around, but hopefully the young cats will realise he is no threat to them. He sure has the potential to become the new little mascot around here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So predictable...

It's been a while since the last post - I have among other things been travelling and therefore been away from all the cats for a while. It's the first time since making all these darling little acquaintances. I'm the kind of person that chit-chats with them whenever I pass one or more of them in the garden - so they are quite used to my company by now. I missed all the little characters (I heard all about their antics whilst being away) so upon my return I instantly made my way through the garden to say hello to them all and to leave little treats... 

The next day when we had to go out the keys were nowhere to be found. We always keep the keys in the same place... so we searched and searched and searched - but no keys! Finally my husband did a mental trace to try and locate where they keys could be and realised I was the one that had them when they got lost. He suddenly resolutely walked out the door and came back a moment later with keys in hand - and a big smile. He said he just had to think about the first thing I did coming home (rushing to say hello to all the cats and leaving the treats at their feeding station). That's exactly where I left the keys. I happily forgot all about the keys in the midst of the happy euforia! I can't say I like being thought of as predictable - but this incident really made me smile at myself. And I think this little tale makes a nice tribute to the sweet friend who gave me this key-fob (yes, it's an actual little book of cat quotations). So until next, let me leave you with one of the quotations to give you a hint of the  t e e n s y  delicious treat awaiting you in the next post... Yes, things have been happening around here!!

"It's impossible to keep a straight face in the presence of one or more kittens"