Cats

Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ (Little Strawberry)

Mr A and I have just returned from a wonderful 3 weeks in Alonissos, Greece. We go there every year and it holds a very special place in our hearts.This year was no exception, despite the financial crisis we found it to be very much business as usual and only slightly quieter than previous years mainly due to the Greek tourists not travelling so much.

We spent our first few days adjusting to the warm sunshine (a stark contrast to the cloud and rain we had left behind in England), swimming in the crystal clear Aegean sea, catching up with friends and enjoying a cocktail, or 2…

Like many other Greek Islands Alonissos has it’s fair share of wild cats and it wasn’t long before we had a number of feline visitors poke their heads around the veranda to check out the cat biscuit situation. We were particularly glad to see the return of Pitou from the last couple of years (his name came about as we have a cat called Pea and he looks exactly like him, but has half a tail and sits on the wall with a dangly leg)

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We were also revisited by Snowy and Adam from last year…and Adam’s 2 little kittens which we named Dani and Kritstoff. We thought about renaming Adam at that point too as the name didn’t quite befit the lady!

On about the 4th day in, after a relaxing day at the beach Mr. A decided to go for a siesta and I pulled my knitting out of the suitcase and set myself up at the table overlooking the valley. I was working a picot bind off on an exceptionally long shawl, it was getting monotonous but after working on it for 4 months I was just glad that the end was near!

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a little shadow appear at the edge of the veranda, accompanied by a pitiful meow. I looked up and there on the wall was the tiniest kitten I had ever seen! I stood up really quietly as most cats run away if we get too close, but it let me approach it. It was a sorry looking thing, all skin and bone, weepy eyes and matted fur. I picked it up and put in in the food bowl and it started eating straight away.

I went to wake Mr A and told him we had a visitor and that I was convinced it was deaf and blind as it showed no fear around me, which is very unusual for cats out there.

Boy that kitten could eat! But once he had finished he started running around the veranda crying for his Mummy. I put him back on the wall where he appeared and he ran off, but only to return an hour later. It was getting quite dark so we took him out the front and followed him to see if we could hear any cats respond to his cries. In the end he ran off again through a neighbours garden and we thought that would be the last we saw of him.

The next day was spent swimming at our favourite beach. When we got home I pegged the towels out and poured us some wine as we caught the last few rays of sunlight, when we heard a little ‘meow’. Mr A and I looked at each other and then over to the corner of the veranda and sure enough there on the wall was a little black ball of fur. He had come back!

We gave him some food and water straight away and watched him fill his little belly, wondering what to do. When he was done he flopped out under a plant pot. Mr. A approached him I was amazed that he didn’t try and run or back away, he was actually welcoming of a little stroke! He was in a bad way though, his eyes were infected and despite now having a little pot belly from eating so much he was still very malnourished. We bathed his eyes and installed him on a comfy chair.

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When we went to bed that night we left him sleeping on the veranda, but we didn’t think he would be there the next morning.

I got up early the next day and went straight outside, but there was no sign of the little scamp. Adam was there though demanding to be fed! I picked up my book and read for a while but I then became aware of a quiet mewing behind me. I got up to investigate and ended up finding the little kitten trapped in the charcoal bucket with his eyes glued together by the infection. Poor little thing!!

We had to help him. Luckily there is a fantastic charity on the Island called ASAP (Alonissos Society for Animal Protection). They do an incredible job – not only helping the animals by providing feeding stations, veterinary care and neutering but also providing awareness and education towards them.

I dropped them a message through Facebook to say we had a stray kitten and if there is anything we could do for it and within the hour we had Jane and Guy from ASAP come to the house with a bag of medicines. They provided us with eye drops, de-worming tablets, flea spray, kitten milk and a nutritious gel to feed him. At that point we knew he wasn’t going anywhere so we decided to give him a name. Stannis. (Although during our holiday I developed an irrational obsession with the Greek word for strawberry as it’s such a fun word to say, fra-ou-la, so I also called him Mikro Fraoula which means ‘Little Strawberry’ in Greek).

As the days went by little Stannis grew stronger and provided us with much entertainment. His favourite toy was a bit of toilet roll on some string, it kept him amused for hours!

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As well as his obsession with my flip flops

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He was the most adorable little kitten. When we woke in the morning he would appear from under a plant pot, or behind the watering can, or jump off a chair and run to greet us. He did have a habit of running between our feel though so we had to be so careful where we trod! He was the best at cuddles too 🙂

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And despite his size he was quick to stalk the big cats that still came by for their daily biscuits, he certainly knew how to stand his ground!

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We were lucky enough to have Stannis around for 2 weeks but despite having a pipe dream that we could somehow bring him home with us we knew we would have to find a home for him on the Island. He was used to human contact and so I wasn’t comfortable with him going back into the wild.

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We have some friends staying out there until mid-August who agreed to take him on. They fell in love with him as much as we did when they saw him and Sophie (aged 10) wrote him this brilliant acrostic poem.

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This sums him up perfectly! When they leave Jane from ASAP will take him to live at some apartments in the nearby village and has promised us updates, we know that he will be well looked after.

I keep saying he, when he came to us he was that small that it was impossible to tell. But by the time we left it was evident that Stannis was actually a she! Turns out we really aren’t very good at this cat naming malarkey :-/

This little bundle of fun certainly added an extra bonus to our wonderful holiday and we were sad to say goodbye. So farewell to our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ – hope to see you again next year!

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I can’t leave without sharing this super cute video of Mr A and Stannis having tickle times….