Friday, July 08, 2005


Furry Friends

When we first arrived in Piccolo Hill we noticed that, in addition to the usual wildlife (being mostly Mynah birds and cockroaches) there was a collection of donkeys. We soon learned that Penny (locally known as “Donkey Lady”) tended to collect donkeys that were being mistreated - more precisely, ignored – by their owners, and bring them onto Piccolo Hill for feeding up.

OK, a donkey snorting just outside your bedroom window at 3am takes some getting used to, but we adjusted and these days they are part of the scenery.

However, Penny doesn’t confine herself to donkeys, and doesn’t keep them all to herself either.

Our new neighbours arrived from Namibia and soon found that their eight-year old daughter had fallen in love with a ‘cute puppy’ that Penny just happened to have been carrying past the house, and so were forced to adopt it.

Similarly, Catherine, plied with a reasonable quantity of alcohol, submitted to the charms of a manky flea-bitten moggy which the kids have optimistically christened “Ginger”, which I suppose approximates to the colour he would be if we could ever get him clean.

Penny is not the only one involved. Gillian went back to the UK after the end of her contract here and left us with three female cats to look after – a stray and her two kittens. They are half wild, so won’t come in the house, but are happy to eat food if we leave it out on the porch. Which is where the trouble starts . . .

Firstly, Ginger objects to us caring for any cats beyond himself. So he chases off the others if he sees them around. Fortunately, Ginger, being a true tomcat, is rarely home, and they do manage to all get fed, though a fight breaks out – as it did at 7am this morning – if he catches one of them at it.

Secondly, word has got around the local cat population that there is food out, and we are now also regularly feeding an unidentified black-and-white-cat.

We are also feeding next door’s dog, who turns up uninvited and just helps himself. As he has grown remarkably – being now the size of the average wolf and twice as hungry - he eats plenty. As do the Mynah birds, several pigeons and more cockroaches than you can count.

Keeping animals here is complex and expensive. The cost we can bear - it's the need to keep the whole thing under control that's defeating us. Perhaps we should just hurl bags of opened cat food out onto the grass and just leave them all to get on with it.

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