The life of Cinderella
Not many cats have a life this adventurous.
Last week some newcomers to the village brought a young cat out to the vet.
“For all her shots… and a checkover please.”
The kitten’s owner was a quiet little girl, Jessica. Her mum had escaped the city and a bad situation and was looking for a fresh start in the country. The locals had quickly picked up on the fact that Jessica had left her dog behind and now didn’t even have a cat.
There was at least one litter of kittens in the village, and I am sure the owner of that brood was pretty quick to welcome the newbies with a free kitten. It was a lovely little white cat with various black spots and splodges. Jessica had named her Cinderella. “Well goodness me,” the Vet said. “That reminds me of a story about a cat from long ago. It was also black and white and also called Cinderella.” “Really?” “Yep, really! It belonged to a sea-faring family. They had sailed all the way to New Zealand on a small yacht, just after World War Two. I think the cat had stowed away when they were moored up at a quay in Portugal, or maybe one of the kids had found her and smuggled her aboard, I don’t know about that. But once at sea… well, there was nothing for it, the cat had to stay. Besides, she was great entertainment for the kids on the long voyages. Just imagine it, a month at sea and no sight of land, no trees to climb.”
Cinderella grew into a great seagoing cat. She was first out on deck in the morning looking for any flying fish that might have got stranded on board during the night. She could climb the rigging and several times the skipper had to go up the rat lines to rescue her, until she learned how to come down, backwards and carefully.
“What about when she wanted to go to the toilet?”
“Oh, they taught her to go in the scuppers at the stern of the boat. Then they could just throw a bucket of water
and wash it all away, no problem. She became a really treasured member of that family.”
It took the family two years to finally get to New Zealand. By then the cat was used to going in dinghies or jumping onto jetties if the boat was tied up.
“I think she even produced a litter of kittens after one stopover in port, but they were able to find homes for them all with other boating families.”
Once in New Zealand, they took a while to decide where exactly they should settle. At first they went on visits to see a great aunt who lived on a big sheep station in the hills behind Gisborne. The whole family would go, cat and all, but they got caught on the bus one time with the cat in a carry bag. The bus driver was a grumpy bugger and made them get off, so when it was time to return to town they had to leave Cinderella at the farm. They aimed to collect her next time they visited once they had their own car. The kids weren’t happy about it, but Cinderella liked the farm.
Then, disaster struck. She might have been used to boats and dinghies, but Cinderella was a bit clueless about cars. And although it was pretty remote, there was a bit of traffic past the front gate and Cinderella got hit by a vehicle. “Oh no! Was she killed?” “Well, the aunt found her the next morning. She had dragged herself into the gutter but was badly hurt, so the aunt packed her in a box and rushed her into the farm vet there.”
It turned out the cat had a broken pelvis, was probably really bruised inside, and her face was all scratched and cut.
“The vet said the best thing would be to put her to sleep. After all, it was just a cat, and they could get another one easily enough.
“But the old aunt dug her toes in. Oh no, she said. Not this cat. You don’t understand. This is a VERY special cat. It has travelled all the way around the world on a small boat. It has been the best thing about a very long, sometimes dangerous and scary journey for this young family. She survived burglars in the Mediterranean and a hurricane off North Cape. If there is absolutely any way possible to save her, then we have to do it!” “Did they save her?” asked Jessica. “Yes, they did, but it took a couple of months. At first they weren’t sure how much internal damage she had so the vet couldn’t make any promises. But he gave her pain relief and stitched up the worst cuts. Then she had to be kept confined to give her pelvis a chance to heal. That old aunt must have been one determined lady because there was lots to do running the household on a big farm in those days. She really didn’t need any extra chores, and her husband and sons wouldn’t have had much time for a ‘pommie’ cat. But she was determined. And by the time the family returned for Christmas, Cinderella was walking again.” “Wow. That was lucky!” “Yes. So you can be really glad that you are living away from the big city and all that traffic because vets can only perform miracles some of the time.” ■
Then, disaster struck. She might have been used to boats, but cinderella was a bit clueless about cars.