A friend, Ismael, was going to sell us a car, a Citroen C15, the Andalucian Land Rover. The advantage the C15 has over a Land Rover is that they are worth a lot less and usually available. They are so basic they can be patched up by anyone with some mechanical know-how and a spanner, and therefore keep going for decades – which means there are always ancient, battered, patched up, workhorses for sale in the sierras. Unfortunately Ismael couldn’t get his to start, so we went round to his garden to see it.
When he opened the door in order to demonstrate how there were no front seats and the window would need to be extricated from the door frame there was loud mewing from a big cat and about eight kittens `- gatitos – occupying the seat well. We didn’t get the car (although it did later make it as far as the farm where it stayed for a while before being towed back), but we did get a couple of the kittens.
I’d been hankering after a troubled refuge dog – once we’d finished the fencing, after I’d done the next batch of work trips – and I wasn’t keen on the idea of putting further complications in the way, but after being told with depressing regularity that without cats the farm would be inundated with mice once the cold weather starts, I vaguely relented. Ismael brought two round on the basis that if I didn’t like the look of them he’d take them straight back home again.
Inevitably that didn’t happen. The minute I saw the cat which hereafter will be called ‘Bob’, I liked him a lot, so that was one. And the she-devil cat, henceforth to be known as ‘Joan’, shot off into the unsavoury depths of a wood store, where any efforts to retrieve her by groping around blindly in the dark were met with a deep hiss and a swipe of claw. Bob dashed in and hid behind her in the murk, and it began to rain. Satisfied with his work, Ismael left with a cheery wave. In the small hours of the morning the kittens, lured by string and a newspaper ball, switched location to a dark area beneath the settee where they huddled in miserable silence while we fretted about food, milk, litter trays, what they wanted, etc.
They are brother and sister, as were their parents, which doesn’t seem quite right, but anyway, now fully confident and well happy with things generally (see before and after photos above). Bob is dark, slow and soft, and Joan, white, sharp and fast. Neither show any inclination to go mousing, and actually, because of their size and the amount of owl activity these nights, they’re still kept inside rather than thrown out to prowl the various hollows and sheds from whence the rustling currently emanates. Our neighbours at the egg farm have a lot of peckish hunting dogs, and Fernando says if his own dogs – now down from four to three after Johnny the pitbull assassinated Bruto the donkey-sized mastin over Gorda the labrador the other morning– see the cats they’ll get them.