Allow me to introduce myself. I answer to ‘Junior’. It’s not a very appropriate epithet as I’m no longer the young kit on the block – more on the others later – but it suits me and we all know my name. On the whole, humans have been kind to me and I try to be agreeable in return; never grabbing at food, never using my claws unnecessarily and not fighting with the other cats. Of course, I’m still a young cat, so I don’t always get it right, but on the whole, I don’t overreact and am obedient and friendly.
I was born in the small village of Kini, on a Greek island. My cat mom looked after me well for the first couple of months. I don’t remember too much about that. But I was never hungry, thanks to some kind humans who came by every day with food, even when the tavernas were shut before the summer tourists came. One day, my cat mom told me it was time to go to the local cafes and bars and start asking humans for food; the other cats in the village all do this. I could see she was tired from feeding us; my sister was smaller and still needed more care from her, so I ambled off to try to forage for myself.
I remember the day well, it was warm and sunny and the first few tourists of the season were lying on the beach. Great smells were coming from the human eating places, as they prepared food for the humans to eat. I had a wander around looking for a good place; I was beginning to feel a bit peckish. Lots of other bigger cats were also walking around and they tried to warn me off. ‘This is my place.’ ‘You’re not welcome in my cafe.’ ‘I’ve been here for a long time – go somewhere else.’ Maybe this wasn’t going to be so easy.
I decided to have a little stroll on the beach and talk to some of the humans there. Some of them flapped towels at me and told me to go away, but mostly they were friendly and cuddled and stroked me. One of them gave me a little bit of cheese from a pie she was eating, but others tried to give me tomato or bread. No self-respecting cat would eat these.
There was nothing for it but to join the undignified scrum in the tavernas. Not many people were eating and many cats were fighting for the food. These were desperate; grumbling and growling, even biting each other and grabbing at the food that was offered to them, with full claws. One of the bigger cats grabbed enthusiastically at a particularly tasty piece of fish, caught the human’s hand instead and drew blood. In no time a waiter was chasing us all out of the restaurant, yelling and kicking us and he threw a bucket of water after us for good measure. This wasn’t what I had expected as a Kini Cat – I had hoped for a nice life on the beach, with regular tasty meals. I might have to think again.
I tried my luck at other tavernas and managed to get only a few small tidbits – not nearly enough for a growing cat. I decided to go back to my cat mom, but she was unsympathetic. ‘I can’t feed you any more, you’ll have to fend for yourself now, and you have to learn to get along with the other cats.’
I went back to the beach. My tummy was empty. A tourist gave me a few strange dry biscuits; she said were for cats, I’m not sure if I can get used to them and they made me very thirsty. There’s a strange statue near the beach, of a woman who has a fishy tail and is holding a man. Around it though is fresh water that rises into the air and makes a fountain and bubbles. I like looking at it. One of the older cats told me the water was fresh and I could drink it. It wasn’t easy and I was afraid of falling in; the edges were slippery. At last I managed to get a drink, but felt that my cat mom had misled me a bit. It wasn’t a nice life for stray cats on the beach, we were all hungry and needing food seems to lead to a big loss of manners.
My tummy was rumbling – what was I going to do?