Happy Saturday Surprise, Friends!!! Last week, I asked (shamelessly begged) readers to volunteer to do a guest post this week, as several of the suggestions when I first started this feature included making it a more interactive feature. Friend Colette generously offered to write a true and funny story for our enjoyment today. It is a win-win … I am getting a bit of a break, and we are all getting a great story!!! Many thanks, Colette, for your contribution!
A visit to Cat Hell 😾
The ad was innocent: ‘Mad Cat Lady,’ requires house sitter for one dog, one indoor cat and approximately nineteen outdoor cats and a few strays. And the email to my husband and me asked if we were available? The house looked nice enough on photos and although we didn’t know the location, it was only about 40 minute drive from Malaga Airport. We said ‘yes.’
We got stopped by La Guardia just outside the nearest village and the two officers demanded all our papers and passports and then grilled us for 20 minutes about where we lived in Spain (so they could charge us with incorrect documentation) and eventually asked where we were going? As soon as we mentioned the destination, they decided that we were indeed, as claimed, British tourists. They had rolled their eyes at the mention of the address…Mad Cat lady also ran a B&B. But it was not a successful one…it was remote (more so than advertised) and a long way from any tourist area.
Arriving twenty minutes late, and just a little harried, our host opened up the gates for us and then closed them behind us.
As my husband got out of the car, three cats immediately jumped in and started rummaging through our stuff, causing him to duck back in again to root them out. His bum greeted our host, Mad Cat Lady.
A muscular Spanish Water dog bounded up as I exited the car, and growled. Looking at me with wild eyes, he jumped up and caught my free bare arm in his mouth, and chomped away excitedly on his new toy (me). I pushed him away with a hand up “Off!” My command had no effect…he just launched himself at my other bare arm. Our host said, (laughing nervously), “he’ll be alright in a minute, he just gets over excited.” My arms sprouted capillaries of minuscule blood flow. I frowned “I’d rather you called him off now!”
I should have known at this point that we were entering into pet sitting hell, but I have a real soft spot for all animals and so I smiled at Mad Cat Lady.
“I can’t,” she said apologetically. “I’ve had three different trainers, and no one can do anything with Badger.” Her eyes sparkled, “but he was rescued and he is such a charmer…he speaks you know?” Mad Cat Lady had a wistful adoration in her eyes, as her monster dog chewed his way through what was left of my skin.
I later found out that Badger’s conversations (usually initiated by him) occurred when he would jump on to the table where one sat to drink tea. He would stare at you face to face, growling and generally showing his superiority as he tried to make you ‘blink first. Then, mission accomplished, he’d lay down and proceed to chew his paws, his wagging tail threatening to remove your teacup from the table! The Mad Cat Lady always laughed adoringly!
My husband soon banned Badger from our separate accommodation in a Casita, after Badger had upset all the contents on a coffee table and smashed my husband’s phone to the floor, breaking the back off it. Mad Cat Lady had said, “but Badger must have company,” so now I had to stay in the main house on my own for much of the day with Badger.
It was only day one, and my husband didn’t want anything more to do with the ‘pets.’ He couldn’t abide going into the house. Only 29 days to go then!
Badger was only the tip of a big iceberg…Clary, was the owners tiny black house cat. Tiny, yes, pretty? No. She was slightly cross-eyed, covered in scabs and looked suspiciously like a vampire with a temperament that went with the image. The rest of the cats were feral…and untrained, but they didn’t stay outside at all! Nineteen feral cats came and went in the house that always had an open door. They did exactly as they pleased twenty four hours a day. The house was a nightmare.
Everything inside the house had the strange mixed odour of cat pee and something resembling cockroach spray. Diatomaceous earth filled the air when ever I sat on the couch, or walked over the living room carpet (supposedly controlling ticks and fleas). Mad Cat Lady lived holistically, organically, and without any apparent need to clean. Cats roamed in dark corners and glared at me with glowing green eyes before raising hackles and backing into cupboards.
It was an interesting mix of The Adams Family meets The Fockers!
The worst room was without question, the kitchen. I almost gagged at the awful odour when I walked in to a small room full of mewling cats to learn from our host, what I needed to know about feeding her brood who now sat atop of the counters, shelves, and the wooden table in the centre of the kitchen. The table legs looked in danger of collapse as they had become favourite scratching posts and were perilously worn away.
Badger’s food was easy (except that I was warned he might refuse to eat), the rest of the gang had a complicated schedule. I had to know each and every one of the cats by name, so that I didn’t get their diet mixed up. Most of them ate two different special meals (as well as dry food that was put down in the kitchen, an ensuite bathroom and a disgusting laundry room filled with ants and pillows infused with the dainty aroma of cat pee and hair balls).
The refrigerator and freezer were filled with containers full of liquidized raw liver (a gut-wrenching smell), gazillions of prawns, and a range of weird meaty bits for Badger.I was given a menu for each kitty and strict instructions on how to feed “this one liver, and a bit of packet meat n’ gray, and that one prawns only, and stop that one coming back for seconds (this particular Ginger, was identical to her two sisters and a brother looked very similar – so impossible to know if I’d fed her or a sibling). This little girl, ‘Blondie,’ needs extras, as of course does Clary. And the latest addition, six-month old Dora, will eat everything but liver and will usually throw it up again. Be careful of George (the blonde son of an old Siamese called Maisie) he will steal prawns,”…I learned quickly that he has sharp claws indeed. He was a beautiful cat though.
The instructions went on for an hour as we tracked down each cat to feed them ….”Throw Dek a prawn… he won’t come near enough to take it. Cuckoo will have two prawns, don’t give him the heads…he’ll choke. Fez has double helpings of liver, and Maisy has one plus half a packet of moist cat food…” I scribbled notes furiously on a piece of paper next to each name and tried (in vain) to memorise the appearance of each feline menace who either tried to snatch the food from me or run like hell for cover. It was a bit like trying to pet piranha fish! And just as frantic. ‘Chaos’ doesn’t really describe it!As I placed two prawns (shelled and cut up) in front of a fiesty male Siamese called ‘Majesty,’ I noticed a ragged ear and a firmly attached tick. ‘Majesty’ indeed. He looked like an ancient warrior king of a feline dominion; ‘Planet of the Cats.’
We drove Mad Cat Lady, and her sister, to the airport in her car (ours was much too small). I inadvertently sat on a warm wet patch… fresh cat pee. I squirmed! The whole car stank. On our return, my husband opened the five doors on her vehicle, vacuumed out all the filth, removed everything loose and then turned a water hose on and blasted all the upholstery, the floor, the ceiling…everything…. It really was that bad! It took a week to dry out (windows cracked open so that the cats couldn’t get in).
Our month turned into a steady routine of me doing all the pet work and my husband doing the gardening. He cleared drainpipes, dug out clogged outside shower trays and repaired broken stuff. We both cleaned vigorously. He transformed the laundry room while I bleached the kitchen into a sanitised condition (only to have an anonymous cat redecorate the kitchen counters when I wasn’t looking)!Badger soon got used to the new routine. A steady use of training treats (never leave home without them), stopped him attacking and biting my feet on stairwells (a particularly aggressive act), and aided in the abolition of ‘growling’ conversations. He began to behave normally and trotted after me happily as I made my rounds of the feral brood. I became quite fond of him. I could not touch his feet though…he would really go for me. However, I was able to brush him (something that Mad Cat Lady said he didn’t like). And he ate his meals. When Mad Cat Lady’s ex showed up to make sure that we hadn’t run off with the family silver, he was amazed that Badger stuck to my side and wouldn’t engage in the ‘growling’ conversation of old nor jump up at him. In fact, Badger ignored him altogether. This man was Badger’s rescuer??? But Badger came and put his head in my lap and then lay at my feet ignoring his former buddy!
Badger’s walks were quite short by necessity. We were positioned between two farms, both with aggressive packs of dogs. The mangy dogs in each pack outnumbered Badger at least 6 to one. He would have been torn to pieces (as might I). However, there was enough space for a short 20 minute constitutional, and yes, more feeding of other ferals along the way. One of them, a shy grey Tabby, was pregnant. She would come when I called, and then gobble the food madly so that she could run when the other, territorial moggies showed up! Mad Cat Lady went through at least two 20kg sacks of dry kibble a week.I got used to days filled with removing ticks, coaxing, feeding and playing with the brood. They were not the healthiest animals though, and would eat all wildlife that moved (despite the spoiling by Mad Cat Lady). I came across lots of dismembered bodies everywhere. One morning, I found Dora with a huge gash in her side…claws had made four neat holes where blood oozed. I patched her up and put her on a clean blanket to sleep. I guessed that one of the Gingers had caught her…they were always chasing her. She was a quick getaway, but obviously one of them had outwitted her and taught her a lesson. I nursed her back to health and she started to attach herself to me… I felt bad that I would leave and it wouldn’t be fair, but it was unavoidable. She needed to heal up, and I had to protect her from the Gingers. She became my shadow. She and a few of the others would be waiting by the Casita door first thing. Badger would be waiting too on the other side of the terrace gate and he no longer jumped or growled. He would sit happily waiting for his morning treat and then follow me and all the others into the kitchen for breakfast.
When Mad Cat Lady came home, all the old behaviours came back in the brood (including, alas Badger) except for one. Tiny Dora had lost her heart to me. She ate properly now, no longer threw up everywhere and as we packed our car, she tried to get in with us. As we drove through the open gates, that one lone little cat watched us go and tried to follow. I felt such a lump in my throat as we watched her figure fade in the rear view mirror.
Cat Hell was gone…or was it Cat Heaven? I felt a real pang at having to leave tiny Dora. Poor little bullied girl! 😿
Brought to you by …
- Badger (Spanish Water Dog)
- Dora (a tiny calico)
- Clary (a tiny black vampire)
- Ant & Dek (wild Tiger cats)
- Fez (black with a white feather)
- Maisie (long hair Siamese)
- Majesty (Medium hair Siamese)
- George (Blond mix Siamese)
- Cuckoo (Large Black)
- Sharon, Sherri, Sharma, Sugar (The Four Gingers) SIBLINGS
- Blonde (Blonde, Ginger mix)
- Big Tom (Large Tabby)
- Little Tom (Small Tabby)
- Milo (Ginger and White)
- Micky (Black & White)
- Monkey (Black & White)
- Grey Ghost (Light Grey Tabby)
Many thanks, Colette, for sharing this story! And congratulations for surviving you Cat Hell or Heaven … a little bit of both, I think!
I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend doing fun things! Happy Saturday!!!