Last updated February 13th, 2020
So there I was on the other side of the world, enjoying breakfasts on the beaches, sunset mountain hikes and whiskers on my face. Yes, cats featured frequently on my vacation and their omnipresence was welcomed. While the Chirpy Cats spent many expeditions in a snowy catio back home in Canada, I did a fair bit of hobnobbing with Cape Town cats from all walks of life! From pampered little furry darlings living the good life, to the UWC Campus cats, cat cafe cats
ifestyle of Pampered Suburban Cats in Cape Town
In North America, videos showing domestic cat encounters with wildlife such as mountain lions in their backyard quickly go viral. But in a quiet suburb of Cape Town in South Africa, a cat named Caramel keeps a watchful eye on the front gate of his home. In fact, he’s quite obsessed with whoever or whatever happens to be lurking on the other side of his
At first, he took issue with the neighbor’s cat Rocko the cone-head (because he was wearing the cone of shame) who seemed to taunt him from the other side of the gate. Caramel would often be found batting fiercely at that gate, guarding it for hours, as if to say “I will get you one day, Conehead!”
So one evening after supper, Caramel batted at the gate again. What was he after this time?
Was it Mr. Conehead teasing him again?
Was he about to have an epic staredown with a caracal and become a Youtube sensation?
Perhaps, as caracal spottings, though rare in the Southern suburbs, are not uncommon in the nearby mountains. But there are no other wild animals such
No, the object of Caramel’s obsession was nothing like a scene from the animated movie “Over The Hedge,” but a family of helmeted Guineafowl often found on nearby fields and parks in the suburbs. And they do make a huge ruckus when they happen to pass by! They’re part of the suburban landscape and even have their own traffic sign, “Guinea fowls crossing.”
Born to a feral mom, Caramel is a much-loved pampered cat, ruling his human family with love and biscuits. My sister found a litter of five kittens and their mom in her shed one day. Mama and the kittens would hiss when she tried to approach them so she would leave food out for them. One day Mama cat decided it was time to relocate her kittens and poor Caramel was left behind. We don’t know what happened to his mom and siblings but with patience and care the little kitten’s hissing turned to slow blinks. He started trusting my sister enough for her to give him gentle pets on the head. The kids begged her to keep him and that was the end of that!
A cat’s habitat
My 6-year-old nephew had a school project entitled “Your Pet’s habitat in 3D.” Like many South African domestic cats, Caramel is allowed outdoors. His indoor/outdoor lifestyle was recreated in miniature, presented in a shoebox display, showing his yard as well as his indoor space. His presentation included how the cat domesticated itself and came to live in harmony with humans.
Caramel took that one step further and decided to literally occupy his makeshift miniature ecosystem when the project was done. Well, cats are the same wherever you go; a box is a box and its space needs to be filled with every available inch of fur! After all, it’s his habitat!
Snowflake returns home after a three-month secret expedition
Snowflake the Snowshoe cat lives a happy life with her two
But one day this big girl with her matching big cattitude mysteriously disappeared and left her family frantically searching for her in tears. The kids were devastated. Three months later she returned home, a shadow of her former self. No one knows what happened to her but she returned unharmed, though terribly emaciated.
Slowly she began gaining back her strength and weight and eagerly sprung back into her role as team leader, more robust than before. My cousin and her kids are still puzzled as to how she survived for so long and without the comforts of her home. Was she being fed by someone? Did she have to hunt or scavenge for food? We will never know the details of her ordeal, but we know one thing is certain: Slowflake’s large presence is deeply imprinted on her two
I was happy to share moments with these suburban house cats. Some moments were brief but special too such as the encounter with Archie the zen cat. He relaxed quietly under the massage table, offering his gentle purr therapy as my cousin worked her magic on my sore muscles after a hike. After the massage, he looked at me judgingly as if to say “Next time wear proper hiking boots,” and then proceeded to investigate the breakfast fruit platter.
While I sat there socializing with old friends, family and cousins the cats were always there, not just in the background doing their thing, but fully present as part of the families with whom they share their
What about the TUFCAT cats?
In my next post, I will update you on my visit to the University of the Western Cape Campus, the home of TUFCAT, the feral colony of cats. I caught up with former cats and the amazing chief cat herder, Patrick. I also got a chance to visit the TUFCAT Home for Life Sanctuary in the beautiful Cape Winelands region. And as if that weren’t enough cats, I also visited South Africa’s first cat cafe!
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