Monday, May 15, 2017


Well, the kitties are really loving the outdoor life. For the first week or so they refused to leave the terrace, and would look through the rails very dubiously at the wide vista of farms and fields. But now there's no stopping them.

Pippy and Farm Cat: So, you wanna fight? Nah. 

I was a little worried they would just be terrified of the farm cats but so far there really haven't been any conflicts that I've noticed. I was also vaguely concerned about all the dogs that mostly roam around, but they seem to not be bothered by cats much.

All the time we were in Norcia I was worried about them on that scary road that went right in front of the house. It wasn't very busy, but people really drove way too fast on it, and in the two years I was there I saw three dead cats on it, one of which was a feral that was almost friendly and whom I was quite sad to lose. I put bamboo screens over the fences and gates because when he was still a kitten, Pippy used to like to just shoot right through them onto the road without pausing.

Here we also have a road but it's half a kilometer away on the far end of the wheat field, and the Crew tends to like the back 40 better, where there are lots of bushes and things to climb around in and little creatures to kill. One of the first things Pippin did after he got here was come dashing in with a shrieking starling in his mouth! One night I woke up about one am and realized Bertie hadn't come in for his dinner, which he usually wants very promptly at nine; you can set your watch by his unfailing sense of dinnertime. So, being a crazy cat lady, I got up and put a cardie and slippers on and went out with a flashlight to see if he was around, and the glow of the flashlight caught him looking very wild indeed, running along with a mouse in his jaws.

So we have finally left off our kittenhood discipline of being kept indoors at night. They're grownup cats now, and have to get on with their important cat-work.

Enricus Rex, Chieftain of the Tribe of the Gattini-Doofii, killer of snakes, catcher of mice and other foul vermine, protector of the people... known to be fond of his mum. 

Henry started this early - being by nature the Alpha-King and a hunter - he really couldn't be kept in by the time he was a year old.

But the twins always seemed to like being in their room at night, and would even trot in there on their own at ten pm or so if I stayed up a bit later. They would have a bit of a romp around the room and then just cuddle up and go to sleep. We have a kitty room here, and I kept it up for the first week, but it was soon clear that they had reached the point of no return on their outdoor activities, so now they all just come and go as they please through the kitchen window that I leave ajar for them.

New rule: fold up a corner of the kitchen tablecloth at night. 

Henry has taken to sleeping way up on the top of the wardrobe in my room on top of a pile of spare bedding after his night patrol. Bertie still likes his spot on the sofa, and they're both usually around early in the morning when I get up. Pippin, however, has consistently not shown up in the mornings for his breakfast in the last few days, and of course he was the first one to vanish for a day and a half. They've all turned into wanderers and adventurers and this is a good thing, because this is cat-life. It's what they're designed to do, and it's more or less how I hoped we'd end up living in Norcia.

It's a different sort of life here, for all of us, and though I'm inclined always to think Change is Bad, maybe for all of us this life here is going to end up being more of a fulfillment of our respective natures.

Hope so. But I do wish Pippy would come in and have his breakfast and stop worrying mummy.



Lisa said...

Hilary, your new home sounds perfectly lovely, but more importantly, it seems suitable. To my mind that's more important than lovely.

Regarding wayward kitties, and I have a houseful, pray to St Gertrude of Nivelles. She is the patron saint of cats and those who love them. Whenever one of mine goes missing, I throw up a quick prayer to St Gertrude to remind the naughty kitty that their mother is worried and to come home straight away. She never fails me; they always come home, safe and sound.

You and yours are in my prayers. And by "yours" I mean the cats, of course.


Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Actually the association of Gertrude of Nivelles with cats and cat lovers was invented in the 1980s, and not by Catholics. She's actually associated with rats. The story's quite interesting.

But I like to pray to her for the kitties anyway. I figure it qualifies as a "popular devotion". I have been intending to do a painting of her, with little Winnie curled up at her feet.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

... and we agree very much about the place. It's not as beautiful as Norcia, but as I spent the day cutting nettles for beer and tea today, I started to really understand that it is a good deal more suitable.

Lisa said...

Well, finally, some clarity about the St Gertrude-as-patron-of-cats issue. Thank you! As I searched in vain for some solid history to lend some legitimacy to the connection to cats - and understand, as a cat-lover, I very much wanted to find it - I started to suspect that this connection had been manufactured for purposes not entirely Catholic. Commercial, perhaps?

In spite of that, and in her heavenly charity, she graciously answers my prayers and send my kitties home. I hope you do paint or draw her someday, and look forward to seeing your rendering.

By the way, I tried and failed to leave a comment to another post of yours about tilling the garden and wondered whether you have given any consideration to lasagna gardening. Since I am also incapable of managing the physical work of turning over a large garden, I'm trying it in a small patch of mine. Here's a link...

There's more info out there, of course. Can't wait to see what summer is like in your new garden!