Kedi Update No. 3

Well, it’s official.  I have morphed into a Turkish Cat Lady (as opposed to Crazy Cat Lady).  I am thinking of getting myself some of those baggy village pants (which would be incredibly comfy I don’t doubt) and, if you are looking for me, I will be found walking around The Village being followed by stray cats (a la The Pied Piper) hoping that they will be brought into the inner sanctum.

The Turk and I still feed as many strays as we can but winter was harsh here in Mersin and we lost a few of our regulars (sadly that included Stanley) but now that spring has sprung we are overwhelmed with kittens and, honestly, I am not sure how we are going to continue to feed them all. DSC02147

Right now, in total, we have 19 kittens!  Yes that’s right.  A ridiculous number I know.  Most of them are terrified of us humans and won’t come near us but Mama being so domesticated all her kittens come running when we come downstairs each morning.

My Hurley Dog aka The Terminator is fascinated with the kittens but due to his desire to kill and maim we have to keep a close eye on his shenanigans because although I forgave him for killing the chicken I’m pretty sure I won’t forgive him for murdering a kitten.  The dog spends his day in the garden stalking the kittens and taking the occasional nip while the kittens spend their day hunting the dog and then running back to the undergrowth if he starts to chase them.  It works out well for all of them.

In the interim, the vet came the other night to check everyone out – well as many as he could catch anyway.  A few of the kittens appear to have fluey symptoms however they are still too young for medicine so we have to wait and hope that they pull through.  The vet has diarised coming to collect Mama for her to be de-sexed as well however the other cats all ran when they saw him so I think it might be up to The Turk to capture and deliver the last few mothers to him over the course of the next 5 weeks. Our hope is that we find homes for as many of the kittens as we can and, with the remaining mother’s de-sexed, we might be able to control the population (at least for now anyway).

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And for those of you wondering My Stairwell Cat, Evil, has now fully infiltrated our home.  If she is stealthy enough she might get to stay the night but generally, she arrives each morning and waits patiently at our front door.  She will then spend her day sitting on the terrace in the sunshine or on the couch where, as you can see, she makes herself very comfortable indeed.  After an evening meal, Evil will disappear into the night with My Kedi Cat for their nightly entertainment.  Seriously I have to wonder what these two get up to because they come home covered in dirt, cobwebs, caked in mud and, on occasion, a gluey substance that I have had to cut out of My Kedi Cat’s luscious long hair.

My life *sigh*

And just because kittens are so cute one more photo:

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The Silence of the Lambs

I don’t eat an awful lot of meat here in Turkiye.  It just doesn’t have the same taste and consistency and, frankly, my hips are thankful that I give meat a miss more often than not but the one thing I cannot avoid here in the village is my neighbours preparing a Feast of Thanks to Allah.

I always know when a neighbour is preparing a feast.  The huge pots are delivered early in the day to enable a thorough cleaning prior to cooking.  Then sheep, goats and even cows are delivered for inspection before a choice is made.  It is usually at that time I disappear and don’t come back out until morning although yesterday I walked straight past a sacrifice just as it started – devastation.  I understand why an animal is sacrificed.  I understand why it is important to the worshipper but I find the whole practice of an animal being put to death cruel and I choose to not take part in the preparation.  Before you cry “but you still eat meat” yes I do.  I am a hypocrite – I get it.

Bayram feast

The Turk’s family prepared a feast recently in memory of his mother’s passing.  This is called Yas Bayram (mourning bayram).  I know that two sheep lost their life in our driveway and I know that everyone in my family stayed up the whole night to prepare a meal of meat, rice (cous cous) and chickpeas that are then given to neighbours and the less fortunate in Refika’s memory.  I did not eat the meal that was prepared by the family and I apparently offended my sister in law in the process.  I do not regret this decision.  I miss The Turk’s mum a lot, she has a wonderful woman and think her fondly each and every day.  I do not need to take the life of an animal to remember her.

The Turk argues with me that I ate a butt load of meat back in Australia (which is why my butt is now a wide load) but more importantly I need to immerse myself in all aspects of the Turkish culture and take part in these village rituals.  I took part – I helped pay for the feast.  That is more than enough for me.

Growing up in the Sydney suburbs I was not privy to the inner workings of a farm or an abattoir.  Yes I am part of the meat and two veg lifestyle but the meat that I ate was purchased in packages and its blood isn’t staining my driveway.  An animal still died to feed me but not by my hand or by my husband’s hand or a neighbour and certainly not where I can see it die.  I guess you can ignore a lot when it is not in your face.

Daughter has often gone fought with her conscience about eating meat but here in Turkiye she pretty much has become a vegetarian.  She will not eat chicken (as she hears them clucking on every corner).  She will not eat cows or sheep (as they are often in the garden across the street although she will eat a hamburger – go figure) and she will never eat fish (more about the taste than anything else).  She is happy with her decision and I am quite proud of her for standing by her quasi morals (other than the hamburger that is).

I still love a steak and the next time I find myself at the Newport Arms Hotel (best pub lunch in Sydney) I will order the steak with pepper sauce and salad *drool* but here in Turkiye I will continue to maybe pass on the meat depending on each situation but what I wouldn’t do for a pub lunch.   Mmmmm.

Kedi Update No. 2

It has been a while since I have mentioned the stray cats here in the village so I thought today I would give you an update on their welfare.

Last December I had managed to find homes for two of Nanu’s kittens.  Two little girls were lucky to have a home where they will be loved and cherished.  Or so I thought.  While Daughter and I were in Australia the two kittens who were now fully grown cats were abandoned back in our yard.  Not only were they abandoned, they were both pregnant and they were left to try and acclimatise in an environment that was completely foreign to them.  These were two house cats, completely domesticated and they have had a hell of a rough time fitting in with the other Village Kedi’s.  I was livid.  Both of them have now had their babies although only one has survived from each litter.  Meet Sheldon and Penny.  Daughter and I are fast running out of names for all these kediler.  Sheldon’s mum has disappeared but thankfully Penny’s mum took Sheldon as one of her own and fed him.  These are two of the sweetest little kittens that currently live in my yard and are scheduled be taken to the vet next week for their first round of shots.

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With The Turk now away Evil has wormed her way into our home.  This is a huge bonus for Evil as up until now she has been very welcome to live in our stairwell but entrance to the “promised land” has been off limits to her at The Turk’s insistence.  She is now spayed and has had her shots as well so welcome Evil, make yourself at home.  And she has.

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For those of you who have been wondering how the infamous Stanley has been faring (yes yet another story about Stanley) well he has taken up with the Rottweiler next door.  I assume it is because they both have no tail – kindred spirits and all that.  Regardless they love each other and it means that Stanley no longer craps in our stairwell as he can usually be found giving all his affection and time to Hercules.  My Hurley Dog finds Stanley a little overbearing. A little too much love, too much affection.  I love you.  I need you.  I miss you.  I love you.  If Stanley was human he would definitely be one of those stalker types.  He is just so full on with his affection!

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I continue to feed all the strays and, if possible, capture them for spaying.  It is a slow process.  Nanu has had another set of kittens (I have lost count as to how many kittens she has had over the years) although I am yet to find where this litter is hiding.  Pretty also had babies but I am certain they have all perished.  If I find no sign of her babies in the next few days I am going to grab Pretty and take her for spaying. She is generally a pretty unhealthy cat and I suspect there will be more to her visit to the vet than just spaying and some shots.

It is a never ending battle with these cats but I cannot abandon them.  It takes only a few lira a day out of my pocket to feed them and, although the spaying or vet bills do build up, I always reimburse the vet for his efforts (although sometimes he may have to wait a week or so for payment).  I cannot imagine how these girls (and Stanley being the only male of the group) would go without The Turk and I helping them.  Sadly I cannot help all the strays in the Village and it is not unusual to find the remains of cats and kittens (and dogs for that matter) on the side of the road.

Just a side note about the stray dog situation here in the Village.  There is usually one or two gangs of köpekler (dogs) that roam the streets here although I wonder if the Council have rounded them up as I have not seen any for a few weeks now.  I hope they have all been re-homed but realistically I suspect that this may not have been their outcome.

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Kedilar Update

Owning a pet in Turkey has just become considerably more difficult thanks to new laws that have recently come into effect.  Before you can purchase an animal you are now required to undergo training on how to look after the animal and also prove that you have suitable accommodation and means to look after your new addition before the final sale can proceed.  Oh the law also says that if you have sex with an animal you go to gaol.  Fair call.

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I love the idea of this law however I cannot imagine the difficulty in policing the law (the training before purchase law not the sex law although I expect the sex law would be difficult to police also unless you were caught in the act so to speak).  Anyone who has been to Turkey is well aware of the number of strays that roam the streets in any city or town and frankly pet food is so expensive I cannot imagine the average family being able to afford the weekly food bill for their pet (I often baulk when I see the cost of Whiskers or Pal here in Mersin).

In the Village there is a huge number of stray cats, in fact I am starting to think that people are depositing their strays at our house knowing that they will be fed as the number of kittens just seems to keep growing.  The Turk is literally having a breakdown every time he does a head count.   We have taken 4 females so far to the vet to be de-sexed but with the addition of at least 8 kittens in the garden and general vicinity I expect we will need to make a few more trips before all the females are sorted.  The vet that we have been using has been incredibly generous with his time.  He originally saw Stanley when he broke his tail and again when he broke his leg *sigh* plus the 4 females being fixed and a handful of kittens for shots.  I asked him if he could try and find good homes for the kittens but alas he cannot as the new laws make it too difficult for anyone to purchase an animal through the “usual means”.  Of course this means that the black market trade will begin to boom for animals trafficking which is incredibly sad to say as there is absolutely no control over this.

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There are also a large number of stray dogs (sometimes 5-10 strays) who seem to congregate in the maydanoz (parsley) across the street each morning.  This little gang of four legged friends meet just before dawn and frolic together for a good 30-40 minutes before returning to their respective homes, parks, beach or wherever it is that these dogs live during the day.  My Hurley Dog goes crazy when he sees them but I am unsure whether he wants to join in or kill them all (Small Dog Syndrome and all that).  There are a few good souls that feed the dogs but dog strays do not seem to last very long around here.  I don’t know whether they move on or pass away but there seems to be a large turnover in the stray dogs around the village.

We feed the cats each evening a concoction which I have christened the “Kedi Mix”.  It contains our left over dinner (and possibly our neighbour’s left overs as well) along with cat biscuits and the odd sachet of cat meat.  If The Turk is feeling generous he will go to the fish markets and purchase a kilo of their cheapest fish for 1-2TL.  This “Kedi-Mix” usually lasts a couple of days before we need to make more.

The Turk with his "Kedi Mix"

The Turk with his “Kedi Mix”

With Daughter and I leaving in two weeks The Turk will continue to look after the Village Kedi’s including my favourite stray “Evil” and her baby “Baby Evil”.  Evil is My Kedi Cat’s BFF and has been living in the stairwell with her baby but last night she moved out and they have now taken up residence in the chilli plants in our garden.

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Baby Evil is still incredibly tiny but seems healthy enough.  She is starting to play and toddle around but is very unsteady on her feet.  Hopefully when we return she will be running around with the other kittens and strong enough to survive on her own.

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Spit or Swallow?

I have a friend named Millie who, along with her family, is lucky enough to be spending a year in Italy.  We are similar people Millie and I, in similar situations and, those who look at her blog, will see we too have similar styles (hello Confit theme).

I originally met Millie at a health centre in North Sydney.  We both took a Cardiolates class together which for me, as someone who hated exercising, I actually loved.  How could it be exercise when you were on a trampoline bouncing around to music?   Our kids also went to the same school so it was no surprise that we finally crossed paths.

Millie recently wrote a piece here about the darker side of Italy and it brought a big grin to my face when reading it. 

In short Millie has taken good issue with the fact that she is in the beautiful Tuscany countryside but spends most of her life with her head down dodging poop (canine) or vomit (human) on the streets.  Like I said I laughed out loud when I read this because in Turkey the pooping and spitting is rife (I have not yet spotted vomit thankfully). 

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The dog poop does my head in.  When I left Australia I brought 10 packets of doggy poop bags with me (I am ready for approximately 1000 poops by My Hurley Dog when on our frequent walks) however I find myself picking up not just my dog’s poop but the poop from strays as well as other dogs whose owners just ignore the fact that their dog is dropping their bundle out the front of my home.  It seems that the local strays have turned the little track that leads of our house into their toilet and every morning there is new and sometimes explosive doggy poop to wash away.  Daughter (who is reading over my shoulder) just pointed out to me that there is horse poop also on the track.  Horse poop is fine.  It is fertilizer.  It doesn’t even smell that bad and it is from a working horse not a stray dog.

Then there is the spitting.  I know it is a common practice in Asia and the Middle East and the Turks are well versed with the ideology of hocking up your lurgy and spitting it to the ground.  I accept that to them it is more appropriate to do this than to use a tissue (although I am at a loss as to why this is more appropriate) and I completely understand that some people have health issues and need to clear their passages but come on!  I really have no interest in watching a middle aged, portly Turkish man (or woman!) launch a grenade-like  green substance onto the street.  Even worse is when I watch a young man or a child spit as they pass.  I want to yell at them, “Don’t do it.  You are never going to get a girlfriend” but all these boys grow into men and, of course, the circle of spit continues.

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As I am typing this paragraph alone I can hear the builder’s next door working and I think I have heard at least 3 flying lurgies with such ferocity that they shook my windows.  Nice!  Daughter has just piped up with “Better out than in.”  I am thinking about sending her from the room.

I recall reading an article last year about a Professor travelling through Asia to study the cultural differences of spitting.  Well!  Imagine putting that on your resume. 

“Good day and nice to meet you.  I am Professor Blah Blah and this class is Spitting 101.”

He sounds hot doesn’t he?

I am sorry to anyone who is offended by my giggle.  I mean no personal offence.  I understand it is cultural and a health issue at times, but please, I find myself dodging spit bombs as I walk down the street and wonder if I should be wearing a raincoat for protection.  Daughter final input to today’s blog is the suggestion that gumboots would be necessary for protection and, of course, and to match the raincoat.  Because style is important!

I will finish this by asking the question – Is Justin Bieber Turkish?  Biber?  Turkish word.  Spitting?  Hmmm.

Stanley

The Turk has disclosed his deeply guarded secret.  It seems he is a bit of an old softie at heart.  As you know since my mother in law’s passing our family has taken over feeding the Village Kedi’s.  This has been generally successful ie My Hurley Dog has only chased the cats a few times, the Turk always buys extra cat biscuits (when they are on sale) and Daughter is happy that the cats have not been discarded by the family.

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Let me introduce you to Stanley.  Named by Daughter Stanley is a personable little beggar.  Has a very distinct meow you can hear two towns over and loves nothing more than to sit on your lap (or your shoulder).  I would often open my front door to find Stanley sitting patiently by the door in the hope of a feed or a pet and he would often walk around the block with My Hurley Dog and I (at a reasonable distance as My Hurley Dog would sometimes give chase).

When Daughter and I returned from Istanbul she did her usual head count of the Village Kedi’s and Stanley was missing.  “He’s probably just out in the garden somewhere,” was my suggestion.  Another couple of days passed and Stanley was still nowhere to be found, “Dead,” I whispered to The Turk out of Daughter’s earshot.  He would shrug and change the subject, after all he is not a fan of the Village Kedi’s.

Last Saturday night we were having a BBQ at my father in law’s house.  Suddenly Daughter screamed from the street out front.  I ran out to find her bent over what appeared to be a dead cat, “Mum, it’s Stanley.  Look at his tail!”

I looked.  Gangrene.  Yikes.  Poor buggar was probably hit by a car.  Probably about a week ago.  Frankly it was a miracle that it lasted this long.  I chased all the children away and ran to get a cage but by the time I returned Stanley had disappeared.  Daughter was distraught but The Turk and I got her off to bed and went back outside to search for him to no avail.

On Tuesday night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk when he started going crazy at an abandoned shop.  I stopped and stared at the door (must have looked like quite the goose).  I put my ear closer and could hear that distinct little meow albeit quite weak meow that belonged to Stanley.  I ran back home and grabbed the cage and The Turk.  He broke into the shop (“it’s ok it belongs to my cousin” was his reply when I questioned his breaking and entering) and searching through the darkness he finally found Stanley cowering in the corner.

With some BBQ chicken and a miracle Stanley came over to The Turk (still walking = good sign) and we got him into a cage.  Wednesday morning The Turk took Stanley to the vet and stayed with him most of the day (because he did not want him to be alone).  Stanley was operated on and unfortunately the gangrene was pretty bad.  He lost his tail but the vet was positive with the outcome of the operation.  Stanley should recover from this ordeal a little wiser (keep away from cars) and a little lighter (well he has lost his tail).

The Turk brought Stanley home last night and we moved the walking wounded in the empty apartment downstairs along with My Hurley Dog’s bed, more BBQ chicken, water and milk.  The Turk sat with him for a while “just to make sure he is alright”.

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When I woke this morning The Turk was not beside me.  I got up and, on a hunch, scooted downstairs.  Low and behold there he was on the floor with Stanley asleep beside him.  Yep it seems The Turk is a bit of a softie despite his gruffness to most of the world.  He had better watch out.  People are going to think he is nice or something.

For the Love of Cats

My first visit to Turkey not only introduced me to The Turk but it also introduced me to the stray cats (and stray animals in general) in Turkey.  From the grizzly old tom cat waiting for the fishing boats to return or the protective mothers with tiny babies taking their first steps in Turkey, there were always cats sleeping, sunning and meowing their way into my heart.

Daughter has inherited her love of cats from me and so when she found an abandoned kitten during a visit to The Village a couple of years ago she immediately adopted said kitten and took it upon herself to nurse it back to health.  The kitten christened Nanu, was fed and loved by Daughter and by the time we returned to Australia Nanu was strong enough to survive although Daughter did leave strict instructions with her grandmother to continue to feed and care for the cat.

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Nanu still lives outside my mother in law’s house and now has babies of her own.  In fact, she is part of the kamikaze soldiers who are trying to take my Hurley Dog out and, in fact, seems to be the main protagonist in the attacks on him.

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When we first arrived here in September I noticed a little grey kitten living in the garden across the road.  After enquiries, I was told that this little one was from a litter of five, however, she is the only survivor as its mother died a couple of weeks back by an unknown cause.  I do not recall the mother cat but I do recall the cat carcass that was ripped apart by the stray dogs and left near our house.

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Daughter now has a new mission which is, of course, to save “Grey Cat” and before school each morning she rushes downstairs to put warm milk in a bowl near our door.  I have also caught her a few times slip food into her pocket and disappear after dinner – no doubt to feed Grey Cat or Nanu or one of the other kamikaze cats running around – but, of course, I would have done the same thing at her age so I simply smile to myself thankful that Daughter is such a caring soul.  Grey Cat is a nice looking little thing but after having chased it out of the house once already today I will have to instruct Daughter to make it a bed under the balcony where it will be protected by the elements but will not come into my home and agitate Kedi (and Hurley Dog for that matter).

And if you are wondering how Kedi feels about these interlopers I think he is quite content to spend his day watching the cats from the window or balcony and, despite me leaving the door open a few times, he will not venture outside anytime soon.  I am certain that he is confident in his reign of Lord and Master of this house and it only is with his approval that his scraps are given to those plebs outside.

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Turkish proverb

“If you have killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.”