'Jewel' saves a kitten

Published in Highlights
Yet another abandoned kitten found and brought to safety by concerned tourists.
Foxy Foxy Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It was midsummer, and I was eating my lunch without too many cares in the world, when my peace was disturbed by knocking on my door. Standing outside were two strangers, evidently mother and daughter, and my young neighbour Ronaldo. In the child's arms was a small ginger kitten, looking much less than well. My heart sank. It was obvious that I was the intended recipient of the klitten. I was trying to avoid taking in more strays of any kind. I had enough on my plate (apart from my lunch which was getting cold), and as for my neighbours, their reaction didn't bear thinking about. 

The ensuing conversation took place in Croatian (me and Ronaldo) and English (me and the lady and her daughter). The two visitors were German, but both spoke excellent English. My sunk heart prevented me from paying too much attention to detail, but I did register that this very engaging young child was unusually fluent and communicative in a foreign language. Ronaldo explained that these two kind hearts had found the kitten in the Pitve-Zavala tunnel, and had bravely stopped to pick it up, as it would certainly have been killed. It was obviously injured, as it was bleeding from the nose. The Pitve tunnel is not an experience for the faint-hearted. What was the kitten doing inside it? Was it abandoned in the tunnel, or trying to make its way back home having been deposited elsewhere? Anyway, here they were, in the same dilemma as all good-hearted people who want to help abandoned animals on Hvar. What happens next? I explained my lack of enthusiasm. There was a silence, a kind of stand-off. I accepted my fate and took the kitten in my arms. It immediately emitted a very strange loud sound, somewhere between a rattle and a rasp. "Why is it making that odd noise?" asked the child. "I think it might be in pain" I replied. I put it down carefully. My colourful kitten Malica sniffed it and started to lick it gently. It remained passive, showing no interest in Malica or the food or drink I offered it. I placed it in the shelter of a cat-box, again wondering if it would survive.

My visitors left and I went back up to eat the rest of my now-cold lunch. When I went down to cat-land later, the ginger kitten was still asleep just as I had left it. Would it survive? The next morning, it had disappeared. Had it crept out somewhere to die? No, it was resting peacefully in a quiet corner. When I checked again, it had tucked itself on to an old shoe; after that I found it snoozing, snoring loudly, on top of a box. Sometime during the day, it came to, and started to look around. I established that it was a he, with a slightly fox-like face, so I named him Foxy. He had his first encounter with Sivka, second-in-command after Bianchi, who repelled his friendly advances with an aggressive hiss. He wisely skirted round her and headed for the food bowl.

Every time Foxy set eyes on me, his rasping rattle started up at full volume, and I realized that he was purring, not breathing his last gasp. Even when tucking into his food, which he was now doing with great gusto, the penetrating drilling sound continued without hindering his intake.

 
My oldest cat, Bianchi, was as unenthusiastic about the new arrival as Sivka had been. Bianchi lost part of his right front paw several years ago, probably in a fight. He had been an avid hunter of wild edible dormice, but that all stopped after his injury. He is still a tough male, ready to fight his corner. He also has a soft side: he loves to be cuddled, and has looked after many of the young kittens which have passed through our home over the years with tender care.

It wasn't hard to see why Bianchi did not welcome Foxy's arrival. Once up and going, Foxy moved around without fear or favour, tail up, in true dominant male style. Once Bianchi had vented his feelings with a strong hiss, the two ignored each other, each going about his business as though the other didn't exist. A kind of truce, which I hope will last.

The day after Foxy arrived, I came home in the late afternoon to find a bag of cat food at my front door, with a charming note which read: "Thanks for taking care. Maybe this is a little help!" Yes indeed, and the help and kind thought are much appreciated. Touchingly, the note was signed in a child's hand: 'J E W E L'. So I hope Foxy's saviours will see this message of gratitude in his name, and I am sure they will be glad to see that he has recovered so quickly from his traumas. What does the future hold for him? I don't know. With cats, I have learned to live for the day, and for the moment the days are happy ones.

© Vivian Grisogono 2014

  

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