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In mid-2010 the Pacific island group of Vanuatu, to the east of Australia and formerly known as New Hebrides, issued a handsome set of four postage stamps entitled 'Cats of Vanuatu'. The Vanuatu Post website announced that the 100 vatu stamp in the series pictured a particular cat named Boots, although no details were given of the other cats shown. Boots was apparently quite a celebrity in the capital town, Port Vila. He was born in 2003 to a mother who was 'a bit of a floozie', says the site, but found a home with a family who already had two large dogs and two territorial cats. Boots found life there quite hard going, so he was given a job as rat-catcher at the well-known Waterfront Bar & Grill.
He loved the place and the fresh fish that is available there unfortunately, though, he didn't much like rats! So he found a new job as an entertainer, and was able to suck water up through a straw. His party piece, however, was to jump up on the bar when asked to do so, stroll over to the ship's bell that hangs there and wait to be told how many times to ring it. He could differentiate numbers up to 5 and would stretch up and ring the bell that many times, which is what the stamp shows him doing. He was rewarded with some cat treats or fresh tuna.
As might be expected, Boots' favourite job was inspecting the catch as it came in on the fishing boats, and no bad fish passed his inspection. During 2010 he and his humans moved to a new venue, the War Horse Saloon in Port Vila, where he entertained visitors from all over the world in the evenings. As a seasoned entertainer he was of course much photographed, and was featured in the Australian and New Zealand media as well as being seen on local TV.
When the owners of the Warhorse Saloon left Vanuatu, Boots retired to a new home on Devil's Point Road. He was reported as having had 'many adventures' there, and one of them seems to have caused him to lose a leg, from which he never fully recovered. He became ill for a while, and died peacefully at home in April 2018, aged 14. In spite of his handicap, though, his vet said, 'Boots retained his arrogance, dignity and love of life until almost the end. He leaves a huge hole in our hearts and lives; it's the end of an era in Port Vila.'
We don't have much information about these cats, but wanted to share the photos with our readers. The first two come from the American forum Ifish, where people were invited to 'show their fishing animals'. Not surprisingly most of them were dogs, and there are some wonderful canine photos of many different kinds of dog at work but also these two cats. As far as we can tell, the images are from the north-west of the United States Washington State and maybe Oregon but we don't know how old they are.
Molly Mae, the black-and-white one, belonged to a lady called Jennie, who said the cat was completely unafraid of water and loved to go fishing with her mistress, often trying to get down to the riverbank first. She would dig in the sand, chase insects and even wade in the water. One photo shows her trying to get out to the boat, which was anchored in the river; she became quite cross about that and eventually decided to swim for it! but in the end the anchor had to be pulled up and the boat mobilised to rescue her. She was much happier when she finally arrived there, after making a lot of noise. She was very good at 'walking the tightrope' on the anchor rope, and loved to watch the fishing float bobbing in the water. She also liked to get in on the action making casting rather difficult!
There's just the one charming photo of a cat named Chumski (main image above), belonging to 'Fisheromen'. He said he couldn't keep her out of the water when the fish were running; but although she was bigger than she looked in the picture, she was only able to go for the 'jacks' (not sure whether that refers to young northern pike or to coho salmon knowledgeable fisherfolk please advise!).
And here are some other images, with hardly any information, of a cat that was taken on a fishing trip to Alaska and apparently enjoyed it. Kitty was rescued from a pound in Seattle just hours before the boat was due to leave, and joined the crew. She would run out on the deck during the fiercest storms and attack injured seabirds, said the writer, and she enjoyed eating king crab on a daily basis. He concluded by saying, 'Her fur was soft. I loved her, and she loved wide open spaces. Offloading was party time for Kitty. She lived on the edge.'
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Our featured feline at the head of the page, and your companion through Feline Fragments, is Maggie. She came as a kitten from Powys Cat Rescue. One of their volunteers had seen her wandering around, apparently uncared for, and thought her rather young to be just left to roam. The person 'responsible' for her said she 'didn't care', and so the youngster was taken in for rehoming. Only about 4 months old when I brought her home in 2003, she was a self-assured soul, probably because of her early experience, and was soon climbing all the available trees in the garden. She was a determined hunter in her earlier days, and was usually outside, but now prefers snoozing unless the weather is good. She has superb whiskers and as the photo shows, loves getting into things! (see it here without the puzzle effect)
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