My first few days home from the hospital were trying to say the least
“Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more
passing in their minds than we are aware of.”
Sir Walter Scott
It seems fitting to start my series of post about Rich’s and my recent European trip with the cats of Mallorca, Spain. Unlike tourist spots, routinely shared in books and online, they cats were unexpected delights from cats with ordinary coats to those who were all white or part Siamese.
The capital and largest town on Mallorca is Palma. The remainder of the island is primarily dotted with quaint small towns and fishing villages, citrus, almond, and olive groves, and historical and geological attractions intertwined in the dramatic landscape.
Wild and somewhat domesticated cats — perhaps because of their tenacity at taming rodent populations — roamed freely wherever we went. One of the first cats we saw was at Sa Calobra, a small seaside village on the northwest coast of the island. It was late in the day, and we went into a cafeteria, one of the few places open during the winter. We split plates of seafood paella, meatballs and potatoes, bread, olives allioli, baked ribs, and a large mug of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
The restaurant smelled heavenly, a mix of cooked food, and smoke from a wood stove, used to heat the dining room. A light-colored cat with a white chest and paws lounged in front of the stove, happy to be admired and caressed by visitors.
After eating, we took a walk along the coast, spotting several other cats, darting between the few buildings and narrow streets. Two young, all white cats played in a planter box, scarcely taking notice of Rich and I who spent several minutes trying to catch their attention.
A few days later, we ambled between the towns of Sollar, Fornalutx, and Biniaraix. At the start of our walk, we encountered a beautiful, part Siamese cat with blue eyes that followed us like a dog hopping onto the stone walls, zigzagging between our legs, and meowing when we pet its head. After ten or fifteen minutes, she decided to stay behind as we journeyed along the stone pathways and cobblestone streets through orchards, farmsteads, and the towns.
Along with seeing an occasional goat and numerous sheep – the bells around their necks complementing the lovely ambience – we saw many cats, lounging on balconies, darting into doorways, and watching passersby from the safety of a planter box or stairwell. It was challenging photographing because they weren’t tame or at least, interested in our affections.
A day later, we visited the Coves De Campanet, a magnificent cave that is accessible through a carved passage on top of a hill. In front of the cave is restaurant with a beautiful terrace, overlooking the valley, orchards, and small farms below. The establishment has 16 cats, many of whom were stretched out, enjoying the afternoon sun, including a majestic, long-haired red cat, which welcomed the attention and was proud to flaunt its beauty.
Check out the many cats of Mallorca, above, along with a couple of pigeons in an picturesque window.
In 2010, I’d found a tiny black and white kitten while picking blackberries in Mount Vernon. We named it Suki, but from day one he was lethargic, and after a few weeks and many visits to the veterinarian, he was overtaken by feline infectious peritonitis.
We were devastated, many months later, we started noticing dead rodents and rabbits, strategically left in our front yard and by our vegetable garden. We also occasionally spied a young black and white cat dashing through our yard.
I was convinced it was Suki, reincarnated.
Slowly the cat became a regular visitor. Even though he was very feisty like a feral cat, he allowed up to pet him, and wasn’t opposed to coming into our house for food. Rich called him Mr. Mustache because of the white blob under his nose. I called him Suki.
At least a year passed, before we discovered Suki actually belonged to the person living in back of us. He was a barn cat from a farm in Burlington, Washington, and had been given the less-than-distinguished name of Kitty.
Much of the time he lived outdoors, honing his hunting skills. Our neighbor to the east was convinced he was catching and killing the gophers in her yard. When my mother lived in our house, and had a bird feeder, Suki evidentially caught quite a few birds (not so good). We continued to receive his gifts of dead rats, moles, and mice. I’m sure he also swept his owner’s yard for vermin.
Every Friday, we’d arrive in Mount Vernon, to find him waiting by our garage or on our deck. During the warm months, he’d assist with gardening, walking among the plants, rolling in the dirt, and running between our legs until we pet him.
In the cold month, he’d happily come inside for several hours, wandering through the house or finding a warm place to sleep. His owner said he usually slept during the day, and was outside during the night.
Suki also enjoyed spending time with Lila, even though she would chase him. She’s wait at the sliding glass door until he arrived, and then admire him from on top of a counter. When outside, they’d be within a few feet of each other, exchanging glances, coyly flirting.
Sometimes, he’d spend the night in our house. Most times, he’d eat and run, dashing outside, and then running back to the open door hissing and pawing at Rich or me before he’d turn and leave for the night.
When outside, he was fairly docile, but inside, he’d angrily bat out our feet, hiss, and if you lowered your hand to pet him or pick of his dish, he’d slap with his claws extended. His owner reported the same behavior. He could be a perfect gentlemen in the house, and then turn into a wild animal, hissing, batting, and biting.
But, we adored him. We looked forward to seeing him every week, whether assisting us outside, rolling in catnip, assaulting a cat toy or sitting in our front window.
A month ago, I felt like he was slowing down, even though he was probably only four or five years old. Last week, he didn’t show up, and hasn’t been seen this week.
Often his owner would open his slide glass door, and Suki would race out, hop over the fence between our yards, dash across the grass, and scamper up the stairs to our deck. Many times, I’d stand outside, shout his name, and he’s show up a few minutes later.
Today, I’ve seen our neighbor open his sliding glass door, but no Suki rushes out. I’m heartbroken because I know he’s dead. Something has happened to him. I’m afraid to ask his owner because I already know the truth.
Suki, little Suki, the reincarnation of our deathly ill kitten is gone.
Lila keeps looking outside, but Suki isn’t going to come any more.