Beccs and Henry
I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t take care of my pets. I do. However, I do want to briefly tell the story of two beautiful cats who both disappeared in Spain. It seems this happens all too often.
When we first decided to spend more time in Spain, I bought a cat. This was as much for a practical reason as personal as we had had some issues with mice getting into our Spanish house, particularly in the winter time. So I wanted a handsome cat who would be an efficient ‘mouser’. I went to a local cat breeder and bought a lovely little kitten who was a cross between a Persian Blue and a Bengal, a ‘mistake’ according to the breeder but to me, exactly what I was looking for. We called him Beamish Eustace Cadwallader Catt or Beccs for short. He was typically playful, mischievous and loving (when he wanted to be) and a notorious paddler and dribbler. You definitely needed protection from the latter because you could end up wet through. He spent his first few months in England but once he had received all his vaccinations and been neutered, we took him to Spain. He was great on the journey there and walked proudly in a harness when we stopped for breaks, the only cat we have ever had that has done that. Mostly they just lay down and look at you as if to say ‘no way’!
Anyway, when we got to Spain there were ups and downs with Beccs. He was black and suffered in the heat and also we found him not to respond well to tick treatment. The vet said that it can affect a cat’s liver, so we had to go for a more holistic approach in a collar. He proved to be an excellent hunter, rabbits being his specialty but we never had any further problem with mice. This could have been as much to do with the new doors that we had fitted on the house but of course, Beccs did have an impact. He was also an excellent climber and loved the trees in our garden and also the olive groves that surrounded our property. He liked to wander and occasionally remained out for a whole night. On the occasion he didn’t come back after two nights we set off to look for him and over a number of days continued to search when he didn’t return. We informed the local vets just in case he was found and taken there but sadly, we have never seen him again.
It was always a worry to find that the Spanish do not like black cats and consider them unlucky. In fact our neighbour did not like Beccs and took great exception to him ‘doing his business’ in her plant pots. That always amused us because the whole area could have been one big toilet but he chose our neighbours tiny patio and her best geranium pots. I do not like to think of him ending up slung down a well but I would not put it past some people.
For a nation of supposed animal lovers there are a worrying number of dog, cat and donkey rescue facilities in Spain where stray animals end up. We have seen on more than one occasion animals abandoned at the side of the road, left to starve and eventually die often because of lack of water. I saw a man drive to the end of our road, dump two dogs that he encouraged to stay by leaving them two baguettes and then drive off. One dog turned up at our house who had obviously been abandoned probably because of the large tumour that it was supporting on its’ belly. It was beyond treatment but I fed it and gave it water before it wandered off to die somewhere. Horrible.
We often get hunting dogs in the season who have become separated from their owners. These can be a nuisance sometimes, particularly if they don’t have trackers on them as they just hang around for a while and eventually stray. Even the dog rescue centres don’t like taking them because they are expensive to feed and difficult to re-home.
Next, Horace went missing and then came Henry and Lewis.
Each Wednesday we used to go to a local market. I used to pick up pig’s ears for Horace and a few other bits and pieces. Often it was just a good chance to have a natter with fellow Brits and have a ‘menu del dia’ at a local restaurant. We were just walking into the market , past the dog rescue centre’s charity stall when I spied a strange looking man stood next to a cage which had four or five kittens in it. I was drawn to the cage and in it found some pathetic looking
- Curious Henry…checking out my bottom drawer
- In the pants Henry
- On the bed Henry. Check out those markings and that beautiful tail.
- Erm…these are potatoes! Where’s the meat?
creatures. The guy told us he had 34 cats at home and these were just some of the offspring. A little ginger kitten just stood out and eventually we agreed to take him home because we thought we could give him a much better chance of life. We called him Henry. He was in a pitiful state…underweight (he had worms) with sticky eyes , a runny nose and a cough.
Our first priority was a visit to the vets. Cats and dogs in Spain tend to be taken from their parents at 4 weeks and they are introduced to solid food very quickly. Henry was quite adept at sucking in tinned meat but he wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed. He also had a bad eye infection and a chest infection. The vet was not sure he would survive. I often wonder how anyone could keep so many cats or dogs and keep them all healthy. In this case it obviously hadn’t happened and the vet said all the animals would have the eye infection that was so serious in Henry. Fortunately, after antibiotic treatment and a better diet and lots of love and attention, Henry began to grow and develop the makings of a beautiful cat. His markings were quite striking and his tail the longest I’ve seen on a cat, with striking ginger and white hoops. He became great friends with Horace and they spent hours teasing each other, each giving as good as they got.
From the beginning it was obvious that Henry was going to be quite an efficient hunter. Rabbits were also his favourite but he would have a go at anything. He found a snake on the terrace once and enjoyed teasing it for quite some time. Who needed a mongoose…we had Henry. he was a bit of a night owl, going out last thing but he knew where we slept and when he wanted to come in he’d rattle those shutters until we let him through the window.
We got him chipped, vaccinated and his own Spanish passport and took him to England for a long holiday. Every one fell in love with him and his character and temperament. He would talk to you and tell you (in his own way) exactly what he wanted. Mostly, he was endearing and he just made you love him.
Eventually we decided we needed a proper vacation and arranged a holiday in Australia and New Zealand. We were going to be away for four weeks. Our friend agreed to look after Henry as he would be friends with her cat, Tilly. Oh how I wish we had sent him to a cattery. He may not have been as happy but at least he would still be here. Apparently he wanted to be outside so let him out. Did she hear him when he wanted to come in? Did he get lost? Did someone take exception to his noise?…he was very vocal when he wanted to be in, was he involved in an accident?. Whatever happened, Henry was never seen again and it spoiled my holiday when we received the call to tell us he had disappeared. We learned the hard way that our pets are better off in the security of a purpose built facility when we are away.