Monday, 6 September 2010
I sometimes have difficulty with the real world. Feral cats are a real nuisance in Australia and New Zealand and, I'm told, in rural France as well. I have the realism to know that they have to be destroyed and, living in rural areas as I do I realise that a farmer and a shotgun are the most efficient method both from the point of view of the cat and the farmer. Risking a scratch from a feral cat can mean risking a necrotising sore (as an acquaintance who nearly lost an arm knows). So feeding feral cats is definitely not an option.
Friends in France were therefore rather discomfited to find a litter of kittens with their mother in one of the outbuildings adjacent to their house. It was thought that there were four kittens. Earlier this week the mother appeared to have disappeared with all but two of the kittens who appeared to be very frail. Given her attitude (defensively aggressive when approached) the assumption had been made that when she had moved the stronger kittens to somewhere she considered safe and left the others to die. However yesterday morning I thought the remaining kittens looked better and when I saw the mother leaving the outbuilding and hunting a little later I realised that she must have been feeding them.
This morning all became clear when we saw the mother and six kittens on next door's farm. I photographed them but didn't want to get too close and upset her. Unfortunately I didn't realise that the automatic focusing had focused on foliage in front of her.
The point of the photos is, of course, that they present a picture that appeals to the heart which can lead to the head being overruled. What is even more strange and heart-rending is what happened at lunchtime. The mother conquored her fear or antipathy towards us and made her way towards the table where we were lunching in the open. She was thin and obviously struggling to feed her litter. She was begging for food. Food she was never going to get. I left the table and she walked at my heels to the edge of the property hoping or anticipating that I was going to feed her. I have rarely felt so torn for an animal. She is a feral cat who was prepared to do almost anything to ensure her kittens survived.
I had a beautiful meal tonight - fillet steak in a cream and Almagnac sauce with all the trimmings.
Somehow I don't feel quite so good about today.