There has been a Cat Incident… or two – and Chloé is currently AWOL.
Last night both cats slipped out. We were fairly relaxed about this. We had chosen a pitch at the bottom of the site, with two lovely cat-sized holes in the wall that are readily accessible. They lead straight out into a wood and thence to the sea.
Our experience here in January had led us to believe that it is a cat-friendly site and a relaxed one, not one generally given to applying rules of any sort. Chloé escaped for three hours on our first visit and when I went to notify Reception and to apologise, they seemed entirely unfazed. I also saw an unfettered cat being fed outside one of the bungalows. It was quiet here then and overall we believed that this would make us a good stop for this trip.
It turns out that what we consider to be a quiet site is actually unnerving for the cats, who are frequently spooked by the Human activity around them.
We went for dinner at the site restaurant (a really underwhelming and disappointing event, with food nowhere near the standard that we had earlier this year. The cook remains the same but the management has changed) and when we returned in the dark, both cats slipped out. It was dark and we thought it unlikely that they would disturb anybody, or that anybody would alarm them at that hour, so we didn’t panic.
A caravan had pitched at the end of our row and a tent between them and us. The caravan held two grumpy people and a whippet/poodle cross that has zero cat tolerance. Subsequent events suggest that its Humans also have a zero cat tolerance level. These people exist in the world. No, really, there do exist people who don’t like cats. Hard to believe, I know, when the horrible wee beasties enrich our lives so much 😀
Dusty returned home not long after going out. He returned home swiftly and loudly… entangled with a (we supposed) feral tomcat. Feral or not, certainly a Tom, as Dusty smelled awful after his encounter. Rank, in fact. It was his first experience of a proper fight and he has received his first war wounds.
Mr Snail managed to separate the pair, a difficult task due to the aggressor being Dusty’s Doppelganger and his not knowing which cat to grab in the dark.
Mr Grumpy had emerged to complain bitterly about the chaos. He also said that Dusty had been under his van earlier, causing the mongrel to go crazy. Well, okay if it was him, fair enough, apologies were made. We doubt that it was him though and it was probably the Doppelganger. Not being defensive about this but Dusty is so timid regarding both strange people and dogs, it is highly unlikely that he would seek shelter under a van that isn’t ours. Also, earlier, after he had escaped, I saw what I thought was Dusty coming along the wall behind the vans, from Grumpy Family’s direction. He cut through the hedge up on to the tier of bays behind us and made a fast beeline for the hole in the wall at the end of that bay. I remarked on it at the time as being odd behaviour for him. He gave every appearance of knowing exactly where he was going and moved with purpose. How could he have known that exit was there? Plus he normally moves more slowly and keeps under cover, he doesn’t have the confidence to move out in the open like that. I conclude that I was fooled by the Doppelganger and that most likely it was he under the Grumpy Caravan.
Chloé did not come home all night despite Mr Snail being up several times to open the door and call her (I felt very sorry for the tenters next to us). She didn’t come home for breakfast either.
I went along to Reception first thing to let them know that we have a cat loose and to apologise.
Mr Snail saw Mr Grumpy and apologized fulsomely again for the disturbance. He was not mollified and was packing up to leave, his "stay having been completely ruined". He also said that Chloé had been on his roof at 05:30. Whoops, sorry again, still not mollified. Go, on, make us feel worse than we already do… if such a thing be possible.
Odd though. I was awake the entire night, stressing, and never heard a peep. She never goes on our van roof. It seems uncharacteristic behaviour for her. But then, so is staying out past breakfast time – especially as we had some rain in the night. Chloé does not care for rain, usually knows when it is coming and brings herself in.
I was thinking that this was it. This time she is gone. In a way it pleases me to believe that she was around early this morning, so is not far away and knows how to return.
I have seen the young lady from Reception again. She seems unbothered about the Grumpys early departure, says it is not a problem, that cats are independent and it’s all just "Life". She is far more concerned for us and our possible loss and waved away our suggestion that we should leave once Chloé returns.
Her kindness and generosity made me feel like weeping. It did however remove several degrees of stress! I think that we owe her a box of chocolates.
It does seem that free roaming cats are accepted as part of site life. She told me that there is at least one wild cat being fed on site by the occupants of one of the bungalows – this is clearly what I saw happening in January.
Mr Snail has seen another tabby, who may or may not have been last night’s culprit, but was swanning down the site and was certainly not feral, he approached but then sauntered off to one of the motorhomes.
We have discussed turning around and going home but are also considering continuing trying to find a workable solution. One approach would be to kiss Spain and its coastal throng of travelling humanity goodbye and to head for quieter areas. Perhaps go cross country to Portugal now. We know quiet forested sites that would suit our cats’ timid temperaments better. We know now that we need to assess "quiet" from their perspective, not just from ours. Although it appears that we are welcome to stay here we don’t wish to upset anybody else but also believe we need to accept the needs of our travelling companions do not match our own.
Such a pity because we do love this area and were looking forward to a long stay. Admittedly, the restaurant no longer remains one of the reasons that we wished to be here, so perhaps the disappointment is not as great as it might otherwise have been.
Chloé is still not back, despite the length of time that it has taken me to write this tome, and Dusty is on the bed in the van and really does not want to come out! I tried him on the line, thinking that if became I sat out, Chloé could follow our scent home but he just cried until I took him back inside.
Overall, I believe that we are back to seeking homes for two delightful quirky and highly independent cats. At least one of we Snails just cannot handle the stress and responsibility of travelling with (these) felines!
Life with Teddy was never like this. I miss that particular traveling companion so very much.