It was probably going to be just a matter of time when Teddy decided to take a walk with the rest of the Border Collies of Rookwood. Who is Teddy? He is a grey tabby neutered male cat; I recently adopted together with Mima, a Siamese cross-spayed female from Amahlathi SPCA in Stutterheim. From the start, Teddy has been always the more confident cat while Mima would be quite happy to do what most cats do – sleep a lot.
|Mima the sleeping kitty|
Over the years of living at Rookwood whenever I have taken a walk in the veldt, not only the dogs but also some of the cats have accompanied me as well. One would think that this is not normal – well maybe, but at Rookwood this has been the norm for three of the cats I have had over the years.
|Tigger, myself and Meagan on a walk|
This first little kitty was Tigger (also Siamese type) who would accompany me with Shan, our then tri-colour Border Collie and my eldest child Meagan who was in a baby carrier on my back. Tigger was not a confident walker, but we did walk down to the fountain and back.
|Smokey on one of his many walks on the farm.|
My strongest cat walker was Smokey. Although he was also a fairly small grey bundle of fur, he accompanied me all over the farm. Even though he had a longish coat, he seemed to cope with whatever the conditions were. Smokey (we think he thought he was a dog) would even accompany us when collecting sheep in a camp. He would even take a ride in my backpack when I went off in the quad to a different part of the farm. He was truly a remarkable cat.
|Kitlit the exhausted cat|
Kitlit was always keen to also accompany me but got exhausted quite quickly and was always scared of the strange sounds and smells in the bush. He got the nickname – exhausted cat. Therefore, when Kitlit passed on to kitty heaven, I thought my ‘cat walking’ days were something of the past.
This was not to be when Teddy decided to go for a walk.
It was coolish and the dogs were agitated to go for a walk. I picked up my binoculars and camera and this triggered great excitement with the dogs and we set off out under the blue gums heading for the ridge behind the house. I had hardly got through the gate when I heard Teddy behind me. Despite trying to ‘sneak’ away, he persistently followed. I then realized he was keen to accompany us so we set off up towards the crest of the ridge.
|Oz and Scamp waiting for the walk!|
|Mackay's neck in the far distance on the left|
At the top of the ridge one then can look left towards the Transkei and in the far distance one can make out Mackay’s neck where some Cape Vultures roost and breed. The world is looking a lot greener from recent rains and my spirit is lifted,as this is now very different from the dull brown depressing conditions we were experiencing earlier in the summer.
|Scott and Scamp resting in the shade|
We descend down the other side of the ridge towards the river. Teddy is following along quite happily. Half way down, we stop to give him and the dogs a bit of a breather. Kitties do not pant as easily, but obviously have to walk double the distance to the dogs. As he lies down to rest, he proceeds to purr loudly and does not seem to be too concerned about the ‘different’ environment around him. The dogs have run ahead and back and Oz spots some cows in the distance in this camp so decides to ‘stalk’ them while waiting for us (typical Border Collie).
|some toadstools we pass on our walk|
I climb over the fence, let the dogs (and cat) through, and continue down to the river. The birds are singing quite happily with the improved veldt conditions. We approach the river and Oz and Scamp have already been in the water to cool themselves off.
|Climbing onion flowering|
The climbing onion (Bowiea volubilis), a bulbous geophytes, is flowering profusely all along the riverbank.
We follow the course of the river and stop to take a breather again opposite a rock bank. Jack and Teddy enjoy the cool ground and spread themselves out to make use of this while Scamp and Oz are back into the next pool of water. The river is running nicely too. While sitting there I watch as the Water monitor quietly slinks into a rock crevice to hide away from us.
Once Teddy seems to have cooled down sufficiently, we proceed up the river. I bolder hop across the river and Teddy does likewise. The mountain reedbuck whistles up ahead of us, as they are aware of our presence. The dogs do not chase them, as they know it is not allowed. We are nearing the next fence, which I open up for the dogs to climb through, and Teddy decides to jump over. We are now back in the camp below the house and as it is getting warmer, I realize we need to head for home as Teddy is beginning to feel the heat.
|the view up the river|
We stop for one more breather and Scott decides that this is when he needs to do some swimming laps to cool his body down. He swims round and round doggy paddling just enjoying the feeling of being able to swim again. A month ago, this pool was just rock and empty. We cross the river once more and Teddy virtually leaps from the rocks across onto a fallen tree on the opposite bank.
Our last stretch is up the ridge under the Eskom power lines, down through the donga and then in at the bottom gate under the blue gums. We are back home. As Teddy flops down on the floor, I realize that my days of being accompanied by kitties are certainly not over yet!