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POSTCARDS FROMCYPRUS(2) BO
Bo is not the brightest spark in the welder’s torch; in fact there are times when he appears not to spark at all. He’s white with splashes of tigery stripes. One of his eyes is beautifully picked out as though with eyeliner; the other sits in a patch of white, looks smaller and, as if that weren’t enough, he is cross-eyed. He is the gentlest soul in the house, loves affection in huge quantities and, unlike my other picked-up-and near-death-but-survived strays, he is never greedy. He eats mostly biscuits. He plants his forepaws in the biscuit dish and methodically chews. When he’s finished, he is finished; he does not come back at intervals to investigate the opening of the cooker door or the fridge as do the others, who are eternally greedy. He appears only when hungry.
He sleeps a lot, but most cats do. Yet, there are times when I wonder if his sleep is natural. I found him as a tiny morsel of life near the garden of an old couple who have cats. He was icy cold (it was late winter) stretched out on the stones. Above and around him sat other cats, but they were ignoring him. I tried to get the females to sniff him, in the hopes that he might be one of theirs. All we got was ‘Get lost; don’t try to dump that on us.’ hissing. There was no one at home when I knocked so, sighing, I picked him up, put him inside my jacket and took him to my zoo. It was touch and go. I tend to do that, pick kittens up to give them a quiet warm place to die and they get such affection and care they live to drive me crazy!
Bo hung on and grew slowly but surely. He is mentally challenged, possibly from exposure and dehydration. His fellow felines are quick on their feet; poor old Bo has to think each move through. For example, he is at that stage where he is beginning to understand that he can do more than he is doing… as comes naturally. He grabs Mo who is his pal, another not quite grown male, by the scruff and stays in situ for as long as Mo has patience to be held before cuffing Bo and running off. Neither not sure what it is they are rehearsing. Yesterday, he popped out the door when I was mopping the hall and went walkabout…towards the traffic. I caught him and I think, sorry to say, that his male equipment will have to be disenfranchised if he is to survive.
His favourite perch is the loo cistern. When he decides he wants to go out through the bathroom window for a trip around the back balcony, heaven help him if there is another greedy parasite incoming that knocks him off course. When that occurs, Bo has to sit on the floor and go through his instruction manual all over again from the first line to figure it out.
Step 1, jump on loo, step 2 jump on cistern, step 3, pause and gauge jump, step 4, leap on window sill, step 5 jump onto balcony, pause for a few minutes before remembering where he is and why he went out.
Legend has it that St. Helen, mother of St. Constantine The Great, brought cats toCyprus. She arrived here with a piece of the True Cross (it is said) on her way to the top of a mountain peak, now called Stavrovouni (Mountain of the Cross), and a finer view from any mountain peak I dare you seek. Drought had struck the island for a period of 17 years and it was, like Medusa’s head, writhing –literally – with snakes. (She should actually have asked (spiritually) St. Patrick who banished those creatures fromIreland’s shore; the Irish will have you believe, you will not find snakes there.) Being a resourceful woman, she sent ships to Abyssinia, if I recall correctly, to bring back as many cats as they could carry, to deal with the island’s snakes. So, when people complain to me about there being too many cats on the island, I tell them to complain to her, via the heavenly grapevine, or the Archbishopric!
There are two distinct species of certified indigenousCypruscat, but the Heinz variety is enormous. Some are small and dainty, others huge and furry. They come in all types and shades. I’ve had many cats over years of living here, fed and helped countless strays, feriles and abandoned kittens – have loved some deeply and have tolerated others – BUT I meant it when I promised my editor, Miriam, that one day I will write the anti-cat book.
Friends are under the mistaken impression that I adore all cats. I don’t. I feel sorry for anything hurt or hungry. Being an idiot by nature I help, at great expense to my limited means, my time and my temper. Thus, people send me cat birthday cards, cat calendars; they give me gifts with cats on them. I always appreciate the thought of gifts. But I suffer for my kindness. Cats in a house are not like dogs. A dog can be taught its place (I love dogs but am allergic.), a cat comes in to rule the roost and you become its servant. There are days when I pray that a benign hurricane…limited only to my cat zone, will befall my felines, lift them up and plant them in the huge and beautiful garden of a wealthy cat-lover who has nothing to do all day but groom, feed, play with and cuddle them. In the meantime, there’s Bo, the best of the rest and, dumb as he may be, I love him.
Bo just used up another of his nine lives – he ventured onto the street by jumping off the balcony into the back garden of my neighbour, from whence he apparently rambled onto the street. He was missing for a few hours (I didn’t know of his adventure.) and it caused me no concern because he often curls up in small places to sleep. However, when by meal time he had not come, I went onto the balcony and yodelled for him. Still no sign. One more oddity about Bo, he has no voice, he croaks, so if he had been yelling for help, I would not have heard him. He did eventually turn up with his back legs whacked and swollen. He’s OK now, but seems to have -for the moment-lost interest in the back balcony!