A recent sojourn at the abode of the Strong Woman Of Flanders has yielded its bounty of beautiful pictures, and amongst the most stunning of all are those I had the pleasure of taking of the few remaining members of the Carious Tribes. After diseases ravaged the Tribes, after a hard Winter, after 2 cullings by local animal welfare workers, the members that remain are the strongest, the most healthy and the most cunning. It shows.
There have been 2 feline Tribes who thrived and multiplied at an astonishing rate until disease ravaged their numbers. Since the little village where the House of Plenty stands is actually a summer vacation home park, there are not many residents who spend the entire year on the premises. SWOF does, and so does Master-Of-Lobo. But the absence of humans during the hardest season, Winter, is a bane for the cats who have to try and survive on whatever they can catch and scrounge.
Master-Of-Lobo is a self-professed animal welfare worker but we happen to know he’s been kicked out of his organization and now operates on his own. He manages to get free cat food from supermarkets in the region by claiming he’s an official. But if he is so official, why doesn’t he lace the food with medicines and contraceptives ? Why does he not set out traps for neutering and spaying ? Oh well, at least he cares enough that he gives them food, even in the darkest days of winter. He’s the reason they survive.
And who has survived ? We saw quite a lot of black cats so the Black Tribe must have come out relatively unscathed, or maybe managed to grow back fast enough. Of the Grey Tribe we saw only 3 and those I’d better dub Giant Grey’s Pride because that is exactly what they seem to be.
Our favourite is and will always be One-Eye Tabby. Followed closely by Giant Grey. They are, as far as we know, the sole survivors of the old Grey Tribe. But we were pleasantly surprised to see a younger version of One-Eye Tabby, whom I dubbed Bright-Eye Tabby. Of the Black Tribe the only one who approached the House of Plenty was White-Foot Black. The rest wouldn’t come near and preferred to stay at Lobo’s Abode, where food is always plentiful in the bowls outside.
One-Eye Tabby is a fine female, who has littered this spring and seems to have recovered well from the ordeal. We don’t know why or how she lost her eye, it simply has not been there for as long as we can remember. But for the rest she is beautiful and sleek. Not so her kits though, sadly, most of them perished on the door mat of SWOF. (Probably, because my mother found the little pathetic remains one morning, did the queen bring them there ?)
Giant Grey is just marvellous, a virile tomcat in the prime of his life. He has the typical “tomcat jowls” and lovely white markings on his chest and paws. Last spring he looked awful, due to many fights and subsequent injuries. He has now recovered and his pelt is glossy with health, his muscles quivering with power, his eyes radiating the majesty of a king. He’s Top Cat here and he knows it, shows it with impressive body-language, walks it with the serene poise of a predator placed securely on top of the food chain.
Bright-Eye Tabby has body markings that look very similar to One-Eye Tabby. So much in fact that we suspect her to be either a sibling or a kitten of the latter. But her eyes are just sparkling and lovely. You can clearly see this youngster has yet to experience the real hardships of feral life and we can only hope she will sail through them with reasonable comfort. She looks healthy and strong enough but will that suffice to stave off hunger and cold ? Will she be able to survive the courtship Giant Grey is certain to impose on her and bear the kitlings ?
And then White-Foot Black. She must have been a conquest of Giant Grey because her markings show she used to belong to the Black Tribe. Swift and sleek, graceful and lovely, this woman has a while to go methinks. But of all the Pride she is the most furtive and always prefers cover from which to safely observe the strange doings of the simians. Where One-Eye Tabby and Giant Grey dare to thread closely and snatch the coveted morsels that we throw towards them, White-Foot Black prefers to keep her distance and counsel. Which I can only admire for it is a prime survival trait for the feral feline.
But it saddens me that these wonderfully beautiful and temperamental cats will never relish in a gentle cuddle, they will never know the blissful sensation of luxuriating under a caress. None of them will ever be caught sleeping belly-up in the sun with utmost relaxation of body and mind. They dare not lower their watchfulness lest they be killed or maimed.
The only time they purr is when the kitlings suckle.
The Lady One-Eye Tabby
The Lord Giant Grey
and Bright-Eye Tabby joins them
with White-Foot Black flitting by…
Would these ferals be welcome guests on board of the Friday Ark ? I suppose so, if they behave themselves and won’t hog all the grub…