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

  • Freedom-of-information data reveals threat of drought that would devastate wildlife, with government slow to act on water management

    A quarter of England’s rivers are at risk of running dry, with devastating consequences for wildlife, according to data obtained by WWF under freedom of information rules.

    Fish are most obviously affected when rivers slow to a trickle, particularly those that migrate upstream such as salmon, trout, eels and lampreys. But animals such as water voles are also harmed, as they are unable to escape predators by fleeing into rivers to reach underwater entrances to their burrows. Birds such as kingfishers, sandpipers and dippers also suffer, as the insects and small fish they feed on die out.

    Continue reading...

  • Mayor of London wants urgent meeting with new environment secretary to press for action on toxic air quality

    The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has requested an urgent meeting with the new environment secretary, Michael Gove, to urge him to get a grip on Britain’s “life and death” air pollution crisis.

    This week, Khan activated the capital’s emergency alert system after experts warned toxic air in the capital had reached dangerous levels. Large parts of southern England and Wales were also affected on Wednesday.

    Continue reading...

  • Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change

    It could have been the edge of the Sahara or even Death Valley, but it was the remains of a large orchard in the hills above the city of Murcia in southern Spain last year. The soil had broken down into fine white, lifeless sand, and a landscape of rock and dying orange and lemon trees stretched into the distance.

    A long drought, the second in a few years, had devastated the harvest after city authorities had restricted water supplies and farmers were protesting in the street. It was a foretaste of what may happen if temperatures in the Mediterranean basin continue to rise and desertification grows.

    Continue reading...

  • Bison, bluebells, bumble bees and beavers are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

    Continue reading...

  • Six new vehicles including Land Rover and Suzuki are adding to air pollution crisis, despite stricter rules coming in months

    The latest diesel car models are failing to meet pollution limits when on the road, just three months ahead of stricter new tests, independent tests have found. Results show that none of six new 2017 diesel cars met the EU standard for toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution in real-world driving.

    The updated Equa Index, produced by the testing firm Emissions Analytics, shows that 86% of all diesel models put on to the British market since the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal failed to meet the official limit on the road, with 15% producing at least eight times more NOx emissions.

    Continue reading...

  • Nearly everyone other than science-denying Republican Party leaders understands the importance of a carbon pollution tax

    What do ExxonMobil, Stephen Hawking, the Nature Conservancy, and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Treasury and Chief of Staff have in common? All have signed on as founding members to the Climate Leadership Council, which has met with the White House to propose a revenue-neutral carbon tax policy.

    The group started with impeccable conservative credentials, bringing on cabinet members from the last three Republican presidential administrations (Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W Bush): two former Secretaries of State, two former Secretaries of Treasury, and two former chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. It was founded by Ted Halstead, who explained the group’s proposed policy in a TED talk:

    Continue reading...

  • Although fracturing and surface melting on the Larsen C ice shelf might sound like indicators of climate change, these processes are natural

    Antarctica boasts a great many superlatives: it is the driest continent, the coldest, the remotest, the windiest and the highest on average. Right now, during midwinter, it is also the darkest. As a rift on the continent’s Larsen C ice shelf lengthens and gets closer to the ice front, we are anticipating the detachment of a large tabular iceberg within the next few weeks.

    This comes after observations of a waterfall on another ice shelf last summer, reports of extensive surface melting on several ice shelves and, in a report last week, indications of a widespread surface-melting event, which included rainfall as far as 82° south, during the 2015-16 El Niño. Are glaciologists shocked by any of this? Is Antarctica going to melt away? Is Larsen C about to collapse?

    Continue reading...

  • Damning report says nuclear project is bad for UK consumers and governments failed to assess alternative finance models

    Generations of British consumers have been locked into a “risky and expensive” project by the UK’s subsidy deal for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, according to a damning report by the spending watchdog.

    The National Audit Office said the contract sealed by ministers last September with EDF to construct the country’s first new atomic reactors in two decades would provide “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.

    Continue reading...

  • A 20% shortfall in migrant workers relied on to pick fruit and vegetables is blamed on Brexit making the UK seem ‘xenophobic’

    Farms have been hit with a shortage of the migrant workers that Britain relies on to bring in the fruit and vegetable harvests, according to a series of new reports.

    There was a 17% shortfall in May, leaving some farms critically short of pickers, according to a new National Farmers Union (NFU) survey. The decline is blamed on Brexit, with the vote to depart the EU leaving the UK seen as “xenophobic” and “racist” by overseas workers, according to the director of a major agricultural recruitment company.

    Continue reading...

  • Deforestation in the Amazon is increasing amid cuts to protection, putting Norway’s financial aid in jeopardy, says minister

    Norway has issued a blunt threat to Brazil that if rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is not reversed, its billion-dollar financial assistance will fall to zero. The leaders of the two nations meet in Oslo on Friday.

    The oil-rich Scandinavian nation has provided $1.1bn to Brazil’s Amazon fund since 2008, tied to reductions in the rate of deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. The destruction of forests by timber and farming industries is a major contributor to the carbon emissions that drive climate change and Norway views protecting the Amazon as vital for the whole world.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds