cats and dogs

Well from my earlier posting you might have imagined from the title (and perhaps secretly hoped, given my gloating over the weather) that this is confirmation that it’s rained today here, scuppering my plans for some garden work. Not a bit of it. The weather looked grim even just across the valley but all day it’s been glorious here. A little cloudy but warm – 20+ degrees – and a nice breeze. No, the title is intended literally; it’s about the four-legged rascals which seem to be be drawn to Casa PP.

We aren’t really pet people. I think I’ve written about this in an earlier posting (It’s not a dog’s life). We inherited some feral cats when we moved in; mum and two kittens, one black and a ginger one, who were quickly christened Fred and Ginger. There was an older black and white sibling (Big Brother) who came and went. From the colour contrasts we assumed mum put it around a bit and late at night we occasionally saw big old toms sniffing around.

The cats used to snuggle up together to sleep outside on one of our kitchen window sills – they must have felt some heat from our radiator. We didn’t indulge them in any other way and when we went outside they scarpered pretty quickly. We did notice one of the little ones had a sore foot but we just thought they’re feral, let nature takes takes its course. Then daughter S and son-in-law I arrived for a short stay and immediately tuned into the cats. They have two beautiful house cats and couldn’t understand why we didn’t get the little one treated!! We accepted her argument that the little one in particular wasn’t getting her share of food through hunting and was getting progressively weaker and we only went and fed her and them some scraps. Big mistake.

Within days they seemed to have stopped hunting (and let’s not forget they were hunting lizards, mice and things that I’d prefer not to have around the house) and avoiding us like the plague, and instead we couldn’t walk out the door without them nuzzling around our legs and crying for food. In short they became the scavenger equivalent of the Ultras. And a real bloody nuisance. Our daughter R has a complete phobia of animals fussing around her from when she was bothered by a dog as a child. So the cats became a real problem to her – preventing her from wanting to go outside. So R was rapidly becoming housebound without our help in shooing the pesky things away. That wasn’t how we wanted to live our lives here.

Then we noticed mum putting on rapid weight until she just disappeared. Within a week or so, she suddenly reappeared from under our wood pile with 3 more kittens. So that was 6 cats scavenging outside our door – 7 with the occasional visits from BB. Within a few more weeks mum and now Fred (female) appeared pregnant again. Jeez, we’d have to be slaughtering an oxen a day to keep this lot happy. I told C that I’d had enough and whilst I couldn’t slaughter them, they had to go.

I went down the town to go and buy a cat box (that was amusing) and one by one I caught the cats and took them several miles down the road and released them. Maybe it was cruel but we’d had enough and they were feral and more than capable of looking after themselves I figured. Perhaps we should have kept one around because the local wild life increased dramatically with their departure. But that was nature reasserting its authority I guess. Occasionally we got visits from BB who we gave scraps to but he always kept his distance and then we went back to the UK and that was that.

Until today. This morning I was out doing my daily wood-cutter routine when I caught a largish animal shape in my peripheral vision. I’m alive to movement because of the scorpions etc around the wood-pile. I turned to have a look and it was a dog, a scruffy-looking terrier thing which had been rooting through our rubbish sack and was scoffing Prezza-like into something he’d found in there. I started to shoo him away but he totally ignored me as he chomped away on his booty. He was clearly starving which made me a little nervy. I know, I know pathetic PP yet again.

Once he finished he came toddling over. I had axe in hand so felt in control of things and the bloody thing just shook its tail submissively and just wanted some affection. I just left him alone because I’m not cuddly with animals and then shooed him off as he just went and lay down by the car. He watched me for an hour without moving. Bloody hell. I went inside, called R and showed her the scruffy rascal out the window. She’s fine viewing them from inside. For another hour he just lay there as I did some work online. He’s clearly a friendly domestic dog and I figured he’d bugger off back to his place fairly soon. But he just stayed there watching me through the window. Bloody hell.

Something soft went ping inside my head as I thought he’s clearly starving and I only went and took him some left-overs. He wolfed it in seconds and then of course he wouldn’t leave me alone. I spent another couple of hours in the garden after lunch clearing olive tree clippings and all he would do is come around my ankles looking for affection (and more food no doubt). Given my paranoia about snakes, I can tell you it was occasionally alarming but we both survived of course. When I went inside to get cleared up he just lay at the back door with R looking out anxiously at this scruffy scavenger. An hour or so later he was still there. It was 4pm and I’d promise R we’d go out for coffees etc down in Servigliano.

We got through the door and shooed him off enough for R to get into the car and off we went. I was sure this time he’d be gone by the time we came back. Two hours later we returned (we witnessed a major funeral in the town – R is v moved by them – and the Italians do funerals with huge dignity). Scruffy was still sat there waiting for us and jumping up excitedly as we parked up. I thought R was going to faint (it’s happened before) but I shooed him off for the umpteenth time today and got her inside.

So here we are, under house arrest from a scruffy little terrier. He’ll be gone by tomorrow….Meanwhile the sun is slowly setting and the afternoon light is just glorious here. I wish our good friend Keith (and lovely wife Cindy) could be here to capture the light and the scene and paint it for us (check out Keith’s website on the sidebar on the homepage – to get back there just click on the Pasta Paulie signature above – go on, just try it in a sec). The hilltop towns look beautiful in the late afternoon sun, all terracotta and light stucco plasterwork with striking light and shade effects set against the greens and browns of the vallies. We’ll need to make a lot of changes to allow K’s wheelchair to access the house and everything. It might take us a couple of years to get things sorted. And I’ve a feeling that Scruffy might be still outside with dufus me still feeding him the odd scraps and complaining at the same time about his nuisance. Nothing changes.



3 thoughts on “cats and dogs

  1. He he, so the lesson is?
    Don’t feed the wildlife (and not so wild) They can all feed on each other. Dogs eat the cats, cats eat the scorpions (what do scorpions eat?)

    There is obviously no room for sentimentality here

    enjoy the weather, still grey here in North Bucks

    P.S. I’ve sent you an email re the category thing, looks like it works

  2. hi pat

    i think the scorpions have got their eyes on me but bring ’em on. definitely the rule here is don’t indulge it and if you’re that way inclined, bloody shoot it. they are not sentimental about wildlife, nor am i till i go all goopy for a second. i honestly can’t shake this little rascal off. it’ll all end in tears.

    thanks for sorting the fix pat. i may have to go through every posting mind! hey ho. thanks mate


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