Cats, music, fun

Published in About Animals

Cats and music both give pleasure to many. Combine the two...pure joy for cat and music lovers!

Many cats have passed through my life in Pitve in the last eleven and a half years. London life was not conducive to cats, so this has been my first chance to get to know them. They have taught me a lot.

vivian cat feeding oct04

Cats' habits, needs and idiosyncracies took some getting used to after a lifetime of dealing with dogs. Cats are very independent. Even when they have all possible home comforts, they are likely to go off in search of an alternative source of feeding, just in case of need. This can confuse the unwary into thinking a cat is homeless when it isn't.

Over the years, I and other cat lovers have fed an endless stream of strays and incomers and abandoned unwanteds. Some are taken in, others by choice or necessity find shelter in the many abandoned ruins around the village. For the independent ones, we set up 'feeding stations' in deserted corners which serve as neutral territory. The cats rarely fight over food, although the males can become belligerent when there is an attractive female around and it's time for mating. Where food is concerned, there may be a pecking order in which some eat first while others wait. This is avoided if there are enough dishes to go round. The cats are fed a variety of foodstuffs, including fresh and cooked fish or meat leftovers when available, tinned and dry cat food, and watered down milk. Fresh water is left in strategic places, especially during the hot dry summers.

kitty oct11

In Pitve, cat lovers try to sterilize all the female cats, and sometimes the males, if at all possible. For us, the worst scenario is for kittens to be taken from their mother before they are weaned. The kittens almost invariably die in misery, while the mother suffers intolerably. Preventive action is definitely the better option. The only deterrent to the sterilizations is the expense. It is a pity their is no national or local programme to keep the cat population under control in a humane way.

sivko oct11

Left to themselves, experienced female cats look after their young, not only feeding and cleaning them, but teaching them all they need to know in order to survive independently in a dangerous world. The mother will defend her kittens from any enemies or predators, whether other cats, rodents or airborne threats like owls.

corna kittens

While the kittens are very young, the mother keeps them well hidden, moving them around at intervals to different secret places, so that they can get used to changes in their environment. She teaches them to stay together in one place when she goes in search of food for them and herself. Given the chance, she teaches them eating skills, such as how to eat fish safely without choking on the bones.

gingie chummy kitty may07

As the kittens grow strong and confident enough to start venturing out a little, the mother teaches them to orientate around their environment. I was most impressed when I witnessed one cat patiently demonstrating to her kittens how to cross the road safely. When she decides that they are ready, the mother will distribute the kittens to places where she reckons they will find food. She may tolerate one kitten remaining on her patch, but if all of them stay, the chances are that the mother will move on. I have had several mother cats bring me kittens over the years. One of these mothers was a black cat who was rarely seen, and who did not seem to have a home of her own. I had only ever caught glimpses of her around the village, yet she knew exactly where to come when she needed to accommodate her offspring. She and her kitten appeared one evening after dark; she pushed the kitten forwards towards me and left, swiftly melting into the darkness. It was all over in a matter of seconds, and the kitten joined in with the resident cats to claim her share of the food.

black kitten oct13

Unlike dogs, cats tend to be solitary. They will defend their territory ferociously against rival cats, male or female. Incoming adult cats, who seem to appear from nowhere at intervals, have to defend themselves while they work out where to find food. When Artemis and Athena, two elderly cats from Zagreb, had to be left in the village due to the owner's illness, a special feeding station was set up in their garden. However, Artemis disappeared as soon as her owners left, and we thought she must have died. After all, she was a city cat with no experience of fending for herself. After several weeks, I caught sight of a black-and-brown tail disappearing into a hole in the wall of a deserted house, and realized where she was hiding out. So a special feeding station was set up nearby, and gradually she gained confidence, eventually venturing to base herself in my konoba ('wine-cellar'), where she lived comfortably until she died peacefully, - one of the few to die of natural causes.

artemis

Despite their solitary tendencies, cats can make friends. I have known some male cats 'adopt' kittens who have appeared on the scene, even trying to nurse sick ones back to health. Bianchi, my longest surviving cat, is ferocious when doing battle with rodents or love rivals, but he also has a soft nature and has nurtured many poor waifs who have strayed into the village over the years.

 foxy twins december14

Cats which are brought up together from a young age, often like to curl up for comfort and warmth.

foxy bili nov14

Like dogs, cats prefer to rest or sleep surrounded by a protective ring of some sort, so many enjoy curling up in flowerpots when they are on their own.

bianchi flowerpot march13

Sometimes stretching out in a window box is a good alternative. It makes growing plants something of a trial, but then one has to prioritize and make sacrifices. Cats like to rest on higher ground, and rarely choose to sleep at ground level if they have the alternative. In my experience, my cats have only laid down on the ground when they were dying. Tragically that was often the result of poisoning, sometimes accidental, more often deliberate.

black cat flowertray sept15

One of the objections some people have to cats is their habit of digging into flower beds to relieve themselves. Most cats, even those who live primarily outdoors, will happily use a litter tray if it is provided in a suitable place and kept clean.

boysie litter tray

Animal poisonings are a tragic fact of life not only on Hvar, but, it seems, all over Croatia. The law protecting animals has only been in force for some eight years. Many choose to ignore it. I have not yet heard of a successful prosecution of anyone for harming pets, although I have read reports of some apparently clear-cut cases of cruelty which have been brought to court by private individuals. For an animal lover, mistreating and killing pets which trust humans is unthinkable. It is normal and understandable to feel anger when it happens. But it is possible to take a broader view. The person who does not respect animals as part of our essential world is to be pitied. Acts of cruelty have to be forgiven: if not, the negativity of these acts blights the humans who have been caused emotional pain through seeing animals suffer. Compassion is taught by example.

Cats are decorative, and they have interesting characters. Some are openly affectionate, others keep their distance and accept human homage and food offerings as their due. I have learned to let cats come ot me before I pet them. They usually like to have their head stroked, even when they roll over as if they want their tummy tickled. They are companionable on their own terms, which I respect. They also perform invaluable practical tasks, hunting down rats, mice and other rodents, and even snakes, although these last are rarely seen. A village without cats would definitely be the poorer for their absence.

The 'Duetto buffo di due gatti' ('Comic duet for two cats') is a magical piece of musical fun, which always creates a stir. The video below is of a very skilful performance by two young French choristers, Hyacinthe de Moulins and Régis Mengus, recorded in 1996, but still delighting thousands via the wondrous internet. Although the duet is usually attributed to Gioacchino Rossini, apparently it was not written directly by him, but compiled from his 1816 opera 'Otello' by one Robert Lucas Pearsall using the pseudonym G. Berthold in 1825.

© Vivian Grisogono 2015

 

Media

You are here: Home about animals Cats, music, fun

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, study finds

    The climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, new research has found.

    Related:'It is the question of the century': will tech solve the climate crisis – or make it worse?

    Continue reading...

  • The disembodied head of the sacoglossan sea slug feasts on algae while its old body decomposes, and a new one grows

    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then it’s unlikely that you are a sacoglossan sea slug (apologies to Rudyard Kipling).

    Scientists in Japan have discovered that this species of sea slug can decapitate itself and then regrow an entirely new body, complete with a beating heart and other vital organs.

    Continue reading...

  • Investigation questions eco-friendly claims of incineration industry

    When it comes to planet-friendly habits, recycling is by far the UK’s most popular, with 87% of householders claiming they do so regularly, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. But an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into where our rubbish goes, and the role played by energy-from-waste incineration plants, has found that millions of tonnes of our carefully sorted empties are simply being burned after they’re collected.

    Freedom of information requests reveal that, on average, 11% of rubbish collected for recycling is incinerated. In some areas the figures are far higher: 45% in Southend-on-Sea and 38% in Warwickshire.

    Continue reading...

  • As more women leave rural areas for cities, course forms part of drive to revive villages

    The rugged pathways crisscross Spain, sprawling across an estimated 1% of its territory. Etched into the land over centuries, the country’s livestock roads have long been the domain of solitary men leading their flocks to lush pastures.

    Now a new initiative is looking to change this with the launch of the country’s first shepherding school for women. The aim of the School for Shepherdesses of the 21st Century is twofold: offering women a foothold in a trade long dominated by men, while also throwing a lifeline to the thousands of Spanish towns that are slowly fading from the map.

    Continue reading...

  • With the help of botanists, Daan Roosegaarde has created a ‘light recipe’ for a field of leeks to help the plants grow better

    By day, the field of leeks looks like any other. But, as the sun sets, blue and red light, mixed with invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation, transforms the scene into a multicoloured landscape.

    This LED light show is not just for effect. For a couple of hours every evening the lights are shone across the 20,000sq metre field in Lelystad in the Netherlands in a bid to make the leeks grow better. In a light installation that brings art and science together, four solar-powered units emit a tailor-made spectrum across the leafy vegetables.

    Continue reading...

  • Joiningthe workforce in Cornwall’s flower fields, I struggled to keep up in the rush to bring in a fragile crop post-Brexit

    It’s the kind of day when the cloud is so thick that a heavy greyness hangs in the air. But not in the fields of Fentongollan Farm in Cornwall, where swathes of yellow roll down the hillside, brightening the dull sky with spring cheer. Fentongollan is one of the world’s leading daffodil farms, growing globally renowned varieties that are a dazzling sight in full bloom.

    “Yes, they do look nice, the yellow fields,” says Frances Hosking, 22, showing me around the land her family has farmed for generations. “But yellow fields are not good for us growers – they are a sign the crop hasn’t been picked. The flowers should be harvested before they have opened up – we want the fields to stay green.”

    Continue reading...

  • Allendale, Northumberland: Soon these ‘mad’ hares will be less wary as their mating instincts take over. Then the males will chase the females full pelt through these upland fields

    We saw their tracks in the February snow, sensing energy in the mass of overlaying prints. Swirling, twisting and doubling back, they were evidence that brown hares, Lepus europaeus, had been having some wild party. Now, with the snow gone, I have to rely on sightings to know what they are up to, but brown hares are clever at hiding themselves, even out in the open.

    I watch one crossing the field. Every time the hare pauses, it stops beside a clump of dead thistles. Without seeing it move, I would never spot it among the dull stalks and the faded rushes. Sometimes it flattens down, camouflaged as a molehill or a heap from the muckspreader.

    Continue reading...

  • Temperatures as low as -40C in Russia may be behind a rise in large flocks in the UK as they escape the cold

    Driving through Ripon, North Yorkshire, last week, Hayley Blaymires was surprised to see thousands of birds swoop in spectacular formations across the sky.

    She had heard people talking about starling murmurations, which this year have been happening unusually close to the centre of Ripon, but this was the first time she was seeing them for herself.

    Continue reading...

  • Cyclone Winston devastated vital coral colonies off Fiji, but four years on, the reefs are alive again, teeming with fish and colour

    In the immediate aftermath of the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in the southern hemisphere, reefs across the Namena reserve and Vatu-i-Ra conservation park off Fiji were reduced to rubble.

    Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji on 20 February 2016, causing devastation on land and underwater. Winds of up to 280km/h claimed 44 lives, leaving more than 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed, and storm surges smashed reefs in their path. Winston caused US$1.4bn in damage, the most destructive cyclone ever in the Pacific.

    Continue reading...

  • Expanding dairy herds have seen surplus male calves shipped to the continent for veal, but there is unease over welfare conditions

    Irish authorities have announced plans to fly unweaned dairy calves from Ireland to other EU destinations from May, in an effort to address growing unease about the length of the journeys made by thousands of animals shipped each year to mainland Europe.

    The Irish government has been subject to sustained scrutiny over live calf exports and the decision to experiment with flights, which will significantly cut travel time, comes as a European parliament committee of inquiry examines alleged failures across Europe in enforcing rules on protecting transported animals.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

Feed not found.