My last big kitten rescue Moroccan style was Squeaky the Cat, who now lives like a queen and rules me with a rod of iron. However, the sad truth is kittens are like daisies in Morocco – they can fade very quickly and sometimes you do walk past, averting your eyes and trying to stop your ears. Something that would be unimaginable in the UK.
This morning, I was lying in bed drinking coffee and idly flicking through Daily Mail Showbiz (sorry! and why are there so many grammatical, meaning and spelling mistakes?) when a persistent mewling pierced through the tales of weight loss and model daughters. I made a mental note to take some extra food out when I set off on my hike and carried on. So did the mewling.
No rest for the wicked – I gave up and went out into the compound yard to see where it was coming from. As I was looking around, my neighbours Rachida and her beautiful and gentle young daughter Hasna popped their heads out. ‘It’s from up there,’ said Hasna pointing up to above our roofs where the walnut trees grow behind a fortified wall. Because our houses are all built into the mountain, there is a system of agricultural terraces.
Blind and frightened
Hasna led the way, climbing up onto a series of low roofs which led steeply upwards. I followed with rather less grace.
By the corner, trying to claw his way up the wall, was a little ginger boy. Hasna folded him in the towel, ‘Oh no, he’s blind,’ she said. The poor little kitten’s eyes were all gummed up with black pus. I held him tight to my heart and Hasna went to find the other one in the woods. ‘This one can see, but he has run away. I can’t see him,’ she called down. After half an hour we gave up and headed back to the house.
On my terrace I washed ginger’s eyes carefully with warm water and a drop of disinfectant. ‘They’re open, Thanks be to God, they’re open!’ Hasna cried.
He blinked at us and tottered. I brought out my tiniest bowls: one with water, one with wet cat food and one with a mixture of milk and raw egg. Ginger lapped the water up immediately, obviously dehydrated. He is very tiny and fits easily into my hand so I held my breath for the food or the milk mixture. There’s no way of getting anything like specialist kitten milk up here. Ignoring the latter, he dived head first into the cat food and slurped it all down, biting so hard on the side of the bowl I thought it would break.
All possibility of a hike abandoned, I spent the day gaining his trust and feeding him small amounts. I crumbled a fifth of an amoxicillin tablet in the cat food to try and cure his eye infection. As soon as he had eaten, he started washing himself in that neat way that cats have. What a little trooper.
He hasn’t been to the toilet yet which is a bit worrying, although he has indulged in some epically smelly farting.
Squeaky is not amused and is in no mood to extend the traditional Moroccan hospitality which is her heritage and welcome the visitor. She has been alternately yowling in outrage and batting him away every time he approaches, little tail held bravely high.
As I type, he is curled up under the Mac on my lap, occasionally sticking a paw out, possibly in an attempt to help. Tomorrow I am going to introduce him to the yard. We have a little gang of douar cats and if that works out, he will join them. If not, we may have just become a family of three.
If you liked this story, how about the one about the elephants?
If you want to effect a kitten rescue Moroccan style of your own – this is a lovely animal shelter here.