[First posted 19 October 2009, Revised 6 December 2011]
Several weeks ago my cat Binty died. She was nearly 14, which is an exceptionally good age to reach here in the tropics, where diseases and climates take heavy tolls on both animals and people. She died of complications of a kidney infection, for which no proper medications can be found in Burundi.
Two other cats also came with me from Kenya, and they have died (aged 11 and 12) within the last couple of years, also of disease complications that could not be properly treated due to lack of medications here in central Africa.
Here is a little blog about them.
First, however, a quote about cats that I recently came across in a late 19th Century book on Domesticated Animals, whose author was clearly not a cat-fancier – a fact I find rather surprising for the colonial period:
Among the curious features connected with the association of the cat with man, we may note that it is the only animal which has been tolerated, esteemed, and at times worshiped, without having a single distinctly valuable quality.
It is, in a small way, serviceable in keeping down the excessive development of small rodents, which from the beginning have been the self-invited guests of man. As it is in a certain indifferent way sympathetic, and by its caresses appears to indicate affection, it has awakened a measure of sympathy which it hardly deserves.
I have been unable to find any authentic instances which go to show the existence in cats of any real love for their masters.
Shaler - Domesticated Animals – Their Relation to Man and to His Advancement in Civilization. 1895
Mr. Shaler apparently did not consider cats as contributing to man’s ‘Advancement in Civilization’ – which was a favorite colonial preoccupation.
Binty was given to me along with her brother ‘Boy-boy’, by a dear friend in Kenya, and the two cats were inseparable:
Boy-boy was huge – about twice as large as Binty, and very lazy.
But my favorite cat was Lulu, who died 1st. January of 2009 (he always liked to do things in style). Very intelligent – more like a dog, due to being 50% East African Wild Cat.
…When less than a year old, in Kenya, he managed to find a way to escape his cage when taking him to the vet – and was lost for a couple of weeks.
I called him ‘Lulu’ because lu’lu’ is arabic for ‘pearls’ – and he had little grey pearls on his tummy, which you can see above. The stree names, above, are primarily in masaai language of the Massai.
A few more Lulu-antics:
Well, more than enough of Lulu! What a wonderful cat he was…
A few yeas ago I was given another cat by a friend here, and named it ‘Bébé’ because he was terribly small and malnourished. However, he grew with good feeding, and soon began to terrorize Binty and Lulu.
That is enough about cats. Another time, dogs – and perhaps also about the donkeys, horses, goats, birds, lizards, snakes, monkeys, bats, owls, and other strange creatures that we’ve had and-or cared for over the years. Living in central Africa brings delightful experiences, if you are fond of animals.
This blog was written in 2009 – since then I have several more cats as well as other creatures – see the following:
Longest Living Cat With Two Faces (929dave.radio.com)
Cat Scratch Turntable (presurfer.blogspot.com)
Inside An Egyptian Cat Orphanage (buzzfeed.com)
Presbyterians Herding Cats (mgpcpastor.com)
Are You a Dog Person or Cat Person? (everydayhealth.com)
All About Animal Sex: Cats Gone Wild (everydayhealth.com)