Kalkan Kitten Steals Heart of Journalist Allison
Allison, a journalist, fell head over heals in love with this gorgeous little lady during her Kalkan holidays and has decided that she cannot live without Didi, and we are fairly certain Didi feels the same about her!
Allison has written about their story in her Telegraph piece this week, and so your ‘definitely not a journalist’ web lady doesn’t have to try and write the story, has given us permission to reproduce it here.The original article can be found on the Telegraphs website > https://www.telegraph.co.uk/columnists/2023/08/16/im-importing-a-turkish-kitten/
“I fell in love with a Turkish kitten on holiday – so I’m importing her to the UK
Taking a cat home from Turkey seemed both ridiculous and impossible… but Didi’s vulnerability and funny ways had pierced my heart ALLISON PEARSON 16 August 2023 After last year’s holiday in Turkey, when a friend and I spent most of our time feeding and protecting a litter of tiny kittens we found living in a hole in a wall, I was determined not to go down that route again. An emotional rollercoaster, it culminated in one kitten, who had a mermaid’s tail where her back legs should be, being issued with a set of wheels, a kind of dinky, rear-end carriage to get around on. Paid for by us. Who else? All part of the glorious madness of animal-loving Brits abroad.Saving the sea bass off your restaurant dinner plate to mash up small and put outside the cat cave is clearly bonkers when there are so many hungry mouths in the world, I know. Then, the kitten died anyway, as so many strays with weak immune systems do. So Jo and I were sad, but still incredibly grateful to Eva, an indomitable German and one of the many foreign residents who volunteer for Kapsa (Kalkan Association for the Protection of Street Animals).
Eva’s own house is full of broken animals who could not survive any other way, thriving under her brisk, devoted care.
Full disclosure. That is not the whole story. Don’t tell Himself, but I paid Ali, a local guy and our villa manager, to feed the three remaining kittens every day to keep them alive through the winter when there are no more tourist scraps to be had. Ali clearly thought the English lady was insane (not far wrong, it goes with the breed), but he went along with it anyway, WhatsApping me videos of the thriving litter. Thanks to Kapsa, the females were soon neutered to prevent them suffering the same fate as their mother, impregnated while barely a teenager by one of several aggressive and frightening tom cats in the area.
That was me done. I recognised my weakness and folly when it came to street animals. For 13 years, I had travelled to the same fishing village on the Turquoise Coast and always ended up in an animal escapade. This summer would be dedicated to taking care of family and friends, not felines.
Unfortunately, my reputation had got around. When I was spotted leaving the villa one morning a fortnight ago, a whole troop of street cats came cantering towards me miaowing enthusiastically, “Guys, look! That crazy foreign woman is back, the one who brings sea bass!”
I managed to close the gate, but one determined creature somehow squeaked through and dashed into the villa where she sought refuge on my son’s bed. She had clearly been beaten up by bigger cats; one front paw was a bloody mess, there was a wound in her side and her nose was stippled with scratches. Little cat’s legs were far too long for her so she looked like she was walking on stilts. Deprived of food, her head and torso hadn’t grown to match the limbs. We thought she could be aged anywhere between six months and a year; a mite, just fur and bones, but her heart beat strongly.
Over the next few days, little cat bewitched everyone. Astonishingly for a street animal, she trusted and loved humans, and we loved her back. Impossible not to. How could anything that small have such a big personality? She was soon bossing the group around and planning ambushes by the fridge, the place where she soon figured out the leftover chicken lived. For preference, she slept curled up tight like a fossil next to one of our heads, her purr an outboard motor of bliss. Occasionally, she would venture beyond the garden, but was clearly very nervous, afraid of being attacked again. Rightly so. A large black tom lurked menacingly in the bushes and fought with her in the middle of the night: she was so terrified she scaled the mosquito screen that barred her entrance to the villa.
One day, the kids were going down to the beach club and they saw our little cat – she was already ours – being approached by other, bigger cats. One went up to her and cuffed her about the face so the sores on her nose bled. What would happen to her when we’d gone? We dreaded to think. Could we maybe take her home with us? My son’s girlfriend planted the idea and everyone started googling “How to take a cat home from Turkey”. The process was arduous and costly. Ridiculous. Impossible. Two days later, I had got my hands on a travel basket to take her to the vet. Little cat refused to enter. “Right,” I warned, “if you don’t get in that basket you’re not coming to England.” And I meant it; it would be a sign. She gave me a cool, appraising look and strolled in.
They jabbed her with antibiotics and painkillers. “She will be very lucky if you choose her,” the vet said, “in winter I think she will die maybe.” Oh.
I arranged to meet Michelle from Kapsa, who turned up with Gordon, the most adorable street mutt since Lady and the Tramp. Gordon was earmarked for a family in Liverpool. Michelle outlined everything I would need to do if I was serious about taking little cat home. Put it this way, it is a hell of a lot easier for a human to enter the UK illegally than it is for a cat to enter by a safe and legal route. (If only she could travel by small boat; alas, the claws would puncture it.)
Puss would be screened and vaccinated for every possible disease, especially rabies, and would need to stay in Turkey with a foster carer for four months before she was considered safe to travel overland in a special van. Ridiculous. Impossible.
The next day, I was at the Kas charity’s dog pound where 500 strays lay inert in a vast cage in the heat of the day, not a whisper of breeze. Most had been in road accidents or simply abandoned by Turks who are still struggling to feed themselves after inflation hit a crippling 80 per cent last year. How noble dogs are, how poignant in their hopeful stoicism. Despite everything, tails still wagged, eyes imploring. I would have taken a dozen if I could. No surprise to be told it is nearly all British visitors who offer them a home. I wasn’t the only mug, thank goodness.
A beautiful young vet called Didem (sultry shades of Salma Hayek) microchipped little cat so she was eligible for a pet passport which I would need to get from the town hall.
“Be honest, Didem,” I said, “Do you think it’s the right thing for me to take her home? I just don’t know. How many rescue cats do you have?”
“Nine,” said Didem laughing. “Today, I am taking home Number 10. She couldn’t breathe when they brought her in.”
Didem praised little cat. Said what a good girl she was, and so clever. My maternal heart swelled with pride. That seemed to settle it; she was mine and I was hers.
Ridiculous. Impossible. You don’t have to tell me that. I know. Nor does it need pointing out that there are plenty of cats in the UK that need adopting. I know. Her vulnerability and her funny ways pierced my heart.
Little cat’s foster carer, one of the lovely Kalkan vets, sends me pictures. She looks so much better than that waif and stray who scooted through the villa gate. It will almost be Christmas by the time she gets here. But she won’t have forgotten us, of that I’m certain.
Have you adopted a pet from abroad? Do let me know how things worked out. I’m excited, but anxious. It still feels a bit unreal to be honest. What will she think of rain? What will Himself and the cockapoo make of her? (“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” Quite.)
“My cats chose me,” the Turkish bag-shop owner said to me that night after we got the pet passport. The woman’s second stray died last year. “I will wait for another one to choose me,” she said simply.
Didem chose us, I do feel that. Didi for short. Little cat with the strong heart. I’ll keep you posted”