17 March 2011
I have not dedicated a post to our third crew member in a long time. You may consider this drivel but our poor old Chopin is an important part of our lives; we have wonderful nieces and nephews who we adore but we don’t have offspring. But we have poor ole Chopin who, for better or worse has to endure our sailing life.
We got Chopin about 15 years ago, a year after we had to put our faithful Black Lab/Shepherd cross, Casey down after a full and devoted life. I hated cats but Judy, a sucker for needy animals, took Chopin in rather than have him face an uncertain life at the animal shelter. While he tolerates me, he adores Judy and has become an important part of our cruising lifestyle.
We know that he’s not that happy bashing around in rough seas but this discomfort is neutralized by his devotion to Judy and his quest for more “cat treats”. We try to get him ashore as often as possible and he relishes his beach jaunts where he considers the beach his own expansive kitty litter.
Anyway, I write this blog to underscore the resilience and independence of felines via a story we were told at Cambridge Cay two days ago. The park wardens told us about a cruising couple who anchored here five years ago prior to the installation of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park moorings. It appears that their family cat fell overboard while they were at anchor and despite their best efforts at retrieving it, they considered it to have drowned.
Fast forward five years and a month ago. Now there are moorings here and it has become a very popular place among cruisers. The folks on a boat on a mooring head to shore to explore this uninhabited but small cay and come across this cat with a harness and tags attached. The cat is curious but vicious and they are variously attacked and approached by this obviously once domesticated cat. These folks contact the Park Warden who, in turn contacted the animal control folks from Nassau who, not without suffering numerous bites, subdue the cat and note the owners’ information from the still intact tags. The owners are contacted and they are still on their boat in the Bahamas/Caribbean and while amazed and concerned about their long lost pet feel they cannot bring this cat back into their family given that they had replaced it with another cat and that their long lost pet cat was reported to be quite unsociable. So unfortunately it was decided it had to be put down.
But, giving this animal its due, it had gone from being a pampered boat cat to having to find its own way on this remote and inhospitable Cay with minimal water and food. We were told that, other than its savage tendencies it appeared healthy and well nourished. Obviously it had found sustenance and water on the arid and destitute situation on this Cay probably eating small lizards and finding water from the left over puddles from showers.
Anyway, Chopin has never had to endure this kind of hardship but he does endure the deprivations and discomforts of life on a small boat. I can’t say he doesn’t complain because when he’s not happy he surely lets us know. But his discomfort is generally trumped by his adoration for Judy and desire to have her pamper him.