Part V: The cats

July 6, 2017 at 4:07 pm (Uncategorized)

My husband once bought me the book, “The Cat Who Covered the World,” by New York Times reporter Christopher S. Wren. At first I thought it would be a silly read, but instead I raced through it. I loved the terrific journalist’s color commentary about the areas of the world he covered on his foreign-correspondent beat, all while he peppered his reporting with ditties about his family’s cat and her antics. At one point, the cat disappears (in Egypt, if I recall) and the reader hopes for the duration of the book that the cat will reappear, no worse for wear. Indeed, she does.

I’d wondered if the cat surviving its walk-about was poetic license on the part of Wren. How could a cat deal on its own, in busy places, without regular water, let alone meals?

Then, we spent a week in Israel (Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Masada, Dead Sea, Tsfat, The Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem). It quickly dawned on me how Henrietta, the cat in the book, did just fine on her own.

At Ma’agan Eden at the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee, at a mediocre resort that once was a working kibbutz, a kitty visited us in the cooler temps of the morning and evening. The girls quickly deduced by its rounded haunches and even the placement of its back paws that we had as a new buddy a pregnant feline.

It looked rough, maybe even a little Haight-Ashbury hippy; its claws never had been trimmed, and she clearly didn’t groom herself enough. Pieces and parts of desiccated plants were stuck in her coat. That didn’t stop the girls from paying it loads of attention and feeding it tiny bites of the meats we grilled, along with little pools of water…from our bottled water….not from the tap. Feral, the cat clearly didn’t have a single owner, nor must it have had a name. But she does now: It’s Ma’agan. If you go to visit her and her kitties, she might come when called (especially if you have a piece of kosher steak in hand).

In Jerusalem, we stayed in a terrific two-bedroom Airbnb that included a lightening-quick cook top, remote-control air conditioning, and a small balcony on which we dried our clothes (the apartment was furnished, as is typical of so many places outside the U.S., with a washer only). Our unit was part of a huge apartment complex in the center of the New City, just blocks from Jaffa Gate on one side, and a 10-minute walk to Mahane Market on the other.

The religious and secular cats of the city seemed to congregate in the complex’s outside foyer, where residents parked bikes and motorcycles, adjacent to a small enclosure in which to dump garbage and recycle plastic bottles (but no other item gets recycled there. Odd). The girls didn’t seem to have enough time in Jerusalem (three days) to tell apart the myriad cats, one from the other, so they never bestowed names on them. But every time we left our apartment and returned, the girls made sure the cats seemed happy; the girls found an area – by a tangle of electrical wires – where kind souls always left food and water, and they frequently checked it. Based on these cats’ very-loungy posture throughout the day, every day, they clearly were very well taken care of.

[Cat photo to be inserted here, once I have consistent internet coverage. Dave swore like a sailor throughout our entire trip due to unbelievably poor connectivity via wi-fi.]

And then on to Tel Aviv. It’s rife with cats, likely the majority of them feral. They reminded me a bit of the Hasids: They were everywhere and darted in and out of bushes, from behind light poles and garbage bins, from under cars and behind shady shrubs… And Hayley especially – but Alyssa, too – wanted to adopt each and every one of them. We really put our proverbial foot down and said no. We’re that tough.

(Teaser for next blog post: In Calvi, Corsica, three cats visited our rented villa, off and on [but mainly at breakfast and dinnertime]. A beautiful, sleek, gray, slinky number with green eyes the color of the Mediterranean at its most shallow, she didn’t have a name before the Knudsens got there. She now answers to Minerva.)










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