Where to begin…
I suppose the best way would be to start with who came into our lives first and work our way from there. Each of the cats in our home were all in search of their forever home, sweetly known as the Cats of Urban Yolk. The decision to take them on came from the desire to let go and be true to my heart. I feel that we all should view ourselves as stewards of the world. Part of this stewardship is to take on the responsibilities that fall on our shoulders. Much like a cat coming to your doorstep looking for hope.
I know it is not always that simple, but I believe in community driven ideals. Unity bringing us together and making us stronger is not only a benefit for humankind but can be one for all nature. But let me not get too carried away with who I am and how I govern my life. I would like to introduce you to the Cats of Urban Yolk:
It was 2012 when my sister was working at a hospital in Mbombela (Nelspruit) when one day she heard a kitten meowing from the gutter beside the entrance to the hospital. She requested help form a colleague and they managed to get hold of this tiny blue-eyed kitten. Her meow was faint and odd, she seemed malnourished and in need of a home. So my sister did the best thing possible and took the kitten home where she lived with my mom. They fed her and named her Luna. A trip to the vet for vaccinations and a check up was the first step to recovery for Luna. She was a timid kitten. Hiding from everyone and letting you know she likes her space. Over time she realized that she was safe and would spend time on the couches and sitting on our laps when she wasn’t outside.
Luna lived with my mom for years. Until my mom had to move overseas. At the time it wasn’t quite possible for her to take Luna over with her and non of us wanted Luna to leave the family so we took her into our home. Luna has been with us for a little over four years now. She seems to love being outdoors and basking in the sun. She also enjoys the walks around the farm but takes the longest to get anywhere. She has her own pace and few things change her mind about going a little faster.
Shifu has been with us from the beginning. She first came to us through a foster care program and we simply couldn’t let her go. Non of the kittens really. We planned on adopting all of them but due to some unfortunate circumstances we managed to adopt just her and her brother, Blondie. They were found by a lady in a box on a railway track. She took them to a shelter where they came into our care. A little sickly but overall well enough.
It breaks my heart to see animals abandoned. Particularly the domesticated animals of the world. We as humans play a massive role in shaping the natural world. We who have made animals dependent on us need to take responsibility and realize they are not toys but living creatures who thrive love and attention.
Shifu is suspected of being part Norwegian forest cat but we will see when we one day do some DNA testing. She certainly has the temperament of a forest cat. She loves to play in the trees, when it is cold outside especially. Chasing and running with the other cats. Shifu just loves jumping in the grass and pouncing on insects while we go for walks around the farm. It wasn’t an easy start to life though. She bonding deeply with her brother Blondie, who unfortunately passed away when he 1 year old. Shifu just seemed to not recover from it, and then she got sick as well. A very high fever which took the work of some amazing people to help pull her through. She seems to have the soft nature of a forest cat and the fire of a lion. I think of her as courageous and loving.
What an unexpected situation. It was just after we had our wedding ceremony and a short holiday with family from Switzerland. At the time we lived about 3 hours away from my grandparents where more of my family would be visiting. We drove through for a visit. The day we arrived my grandmother informed me that there was a tiny kitten in her old chicken coop. We were both on our feet and straight to that coop. We come around the corner and the tinniest little kitten barely walking starts stumbling towards us. I scooped her up into my arms and she became a part of our little family just like that. We found a vet to go to near by and had her checked for anything and everything. She was constipated but seemed to well overall. The vet told us that she seems to be a cross between a domestic cat and an African wild cat. This is something that does happen on occasion.
We had much travelling still to do. Mooncake was so young that she required care basically the whole day. I had to get her to use the litter box and teach her to dig a whole. We had special food for her and had to help her regulate her body temperature. It was an amazing experience. Mooncake has grown up and has no issues health wise. In fact she is a remarkable little hunter, keeping our food safe from most things smaller than her, and some larger things too. She is a brave cat that loves to lead the way when we go for farm walks. Mostly so she can wait in the grass to pounce on the other cats.
I have never met an animal who wanted to be a part of our little gang so much. He first appeared as a feral cat that seemed to be living on the farm for many years. He would cry in the night and scratch at the window. He started following us on the walks with the other cats around the farm. Eventually he just started hanging out by us during the day. We wanted to find a way to help him without putting our cats at risk. At the time we already had 4 cats and our one dearest boy Lamar was unwell. It was difficult to put exceptional effort into caring for this new cat.
Unfortunately Lamar was unable to pull through his condition. I could barely think straight. Our hearts broke and never healed from it. I will tell you about him later.
We had been giving food to the new cat in stable to ensure that he had something at the very least. Once we had taken time getting to know him better we hoped to get him healthy and help him find a new home. I started calling him Sam one day since he seemed to like it and would always respond to it. So we took Sam to the vet and had him checked for the usual suspects. He was rather thin and malnourished but starting to gain weight. We discovered that he had feline AIDS which made him an unlikely cat to be taken in for adoption. Soon after COVID lockdowns began. Same moved into the house, becoming a part of our little family. We bonded quite a bit as well. He rarely leaves the property without us so I guess he is happy to stay with us. He is a sweet boy and a is unusually gentle.
While Sam still roamed the outdoors and was eating in the stable I would see him occasionally come and go. Though it seemed that more and more food was being eaten in one day. Sometimes I would go inside to see him and it seemed that something would go hide quickly, though I never quite saw what it was. Until one day I saw this little green-eyed cat appear. She was terrified. Unlike Sam it seemed that she was once a house cat. We brought her a box with a cushion and blankets. We gave them each their own bowls for food and water. Both seemed to be getting better and putting on weight.
I started calling her Sadie when I would bring the food in the morning. She started to take to the name and recognized my voice. It took a while but managed to become friends. One stormy night I got the opportunity to pick her up and take her inside. She joined Sam in becoming a part of the family. Though it was not as easy as it was with Sam. He fit in pretty quickly but Sadie was nervous and would strike the other cats.
Sadie had clearly been someone’s cat before she found her way to us. She was frightened and didn’t know what to do so begin defensive seemed like a good way to keep safe. I can’t blame her really, I probably would be as well. She slept up stairs for 3 days refusing to come outside. I had to work with her, in her own time, to get her to start coming outside and finding some trust in us. It has been a little over a year since she moved in and she still has some trust issues. More with other people but each day she seems to be trusting me more and more. I think we have a good thing going and everyone is fairly happy with each other in the house. Sadie is not much for farm walks but she loves waiting for us and often greets us at the door when we return. I think because she knows it is food time. Soon though she will have to go on a diet since she is somewhat overweight and not exercising enough. Bit by bit she will gain some confidence again.
Jiji is the most recent addition to our family. He arrived here at the stone cottage some time in early January. He we saw him from the window upstairs, he was hunting for his dinner. I tried to befriend him and still keep our cats happy. Charl was away visiting family and so I took it very slowly. Once we realised he was a boy we knew it wasn’t going to be that simple. It has not been an easy ride getting them to accept each other. For the most part though it has not been all bad and they happily sleep in the same house.
After we took Jiji to the vet for the first time we found out that he is diabetic and would need a special diet. At that time we we unsure about insulin. Now though he is doing very well on his special food. I have no idea where he came from but I get the feeling that he was abandoned much like Sadie. He is a bit of a nut and seems to be very happy. He is adjusting and still a little skittish. I think it should pass soon enough and then we will be off to Italy. An interesting life, for all of us.
It is so difficult to write about loved ones passed. Lamar came into the family about the same time as Luna. He was with my mom for many years and was essentially a sibling to Luna. He was the runt of the litter and rejected by his mom so my mom took him in. He turned out to be a very large and strong cat. He loved to check his territory and let any other cat know exactly who is boss. From day 1 Lamar was a trouble maker. My sister named him Lamar after Hedley Lamarr from the film Blazing Saddles.
He loved to climb trees and sometimes get stuck in them. He would roam so far I used to spend hours wondering where he was, weighing heavy on my heart. Lamar always came home though. He was a fighter and just bravest boy. He came to live with us with Luna after my mom left for overseas. He loved to go on walks with us as well. He had the spirit of an explorer and the heart of a tiger. He would take the opportunity to let you know he was still the big guy around the house. Unfortunately he became ill and was unable to make it through. I feel guilty to this day thinking I could have done more. I will miss him so much and I will always try to be has brave and head strong as he seemed to be.
Blondie arrived along with Shifu as litter mates. Small and fragile just looking for a little love and attention. Blondie turned out to the only blonde one and the only boy of the group. His whiskers has also seemingly been burnt of so he struggles with judging distance for the longest time. They eventually grew back which made it easier for him to get around.
Blondie didn’t like to go out very far and enjoyed a lot of affection. He would often come looking for one us to get a cuddle, including Shifu. A bit of a lazy boy really. Sleeping in on a Saturday was a favourite past time of his for sure. He would sleep in the bed with us, under the blanket with his head on the pillow. It was so adorable. Though he passed away many years ago I miss him greatly. I will never forget my sweet Blondie.
FIP caught up with him around 1 year of age. At the time we didn’t know that was possible. A lot of it was all new and we had to learn fast. Unfortunately though, nothing more could be done for him. He was unable to pull through and we had to say goodbye. I am sure the heartache will never go away. I strive to be as loving and as patient as he was.