Autumnal Cat-Walk

Cats love walking and wandering. Tiny video cams placed on felines have shown how long distances even urban cats will walk. Stories of cats travelling hundreds of miles to reach their original homes are legion. One of the most amazing is that of Jessie the Australian cat. When her ‘owners’ (I use quotes because it’s actually cats who are the real owners) relocated from Ungarra on the South Australia coast to Darwin in  the Northern Territory in 2011 they thought Jessie had settled in well in her new home. That is until she disappeared and was found again back in her old home in Ungarra some months later! That’s a distance of over two thousand miles she’d cat-walked!

It’s therefore quite natural for cats to love walking with their servants. Here in Longoio it’s pure heaven for the feline breed since I can choose footpaths that run through miles of woodland without any trafficable roads. True, there are some bigger animals like boars and foxes lurking in the forest but a cat’s talons and intelligence can defend it from such predators.

A favourite walk I do with my cats is a six-mile one which takes one from our  village to a place called ‘la fredda’ and thence to a trail which used to run all the way to the oratory of Sant’Anna near Pieve di Monti di Villa but which has been disrupted for some time by a landfall.

I did this walk again last Tuesday, for which walk repeatedly done is ever the same? The seasons see to the changing colours, the different fragrances, and the varying landscape appearance so that the walk is never the same.

Napoleon slept it off at home. After all he’s well over fifty in cat years and likes his post-prandial nap.

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Carlotta, however, is in her twenties and Cheekie (the one with the smudgy face) is a rampant teenager and they quickly joined me for a walk.

One just walks and my twosome on this occasion had plenty to do. They stalk each other in the long grass, peer over the edge of rocky waterfalls, sharpen their claws against tree trunks, climb up beeches, sniff at whoever or whatever has come before them on the path, chase fallen leaves and at the resting point in the walk flake out (like me) only to wake me up and tell me it’s time to get home and have some tea (cat-tea, of course, that is with cat biscuits and pâté).

Do Carlotta and Cheekie realise how lucky they are? This area is truly their feline natural habitat. They become like miniature lions (which they are, of course) and the grass becomes their savannah where they look, listen, stalk, sniff or just relax in the beautiful autumnal sun we’ve been having.

Probably they don’t realise how lucky they are but my cats make me realise how lucky I am to be where I am and to walk the lonely paths with them. I’ve experienced walking with a dog for a very long distance over high mountains (it was the Himalayas in fact) in earlier years.

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When Dolma, a Lhasa Apso, died prematurely because of a stupid error caused by someone who was actually close to me I completely broke down. The experience has stayed with me as an impairment on my consciousness ever since. I feel I am physically unable to cope with the death of a dog because the link between dog and man is somehow rather closer. As I wrote about her:

What death equates with unsaid testament

of lucid eyes and golden fur’s extent?

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What I love about walking with my cats, however, is their independence and also perhaps the knowledge that they trust me to take them to places which are safe just because I’m there with them. I hope that’s true.

Enough of this. Let’s enjoy some pictures taken of Tuesday’s walk with Carlotta and Cheekie.

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