Camping cats

A delightfully gormless cat from the agriturismo near Pienza

This is a post for all you cat lovers. If you don’t like cats, you won’t like this, but please be patient and wait for further non-cat posts.

We rarely closely encountered cats in France, Spain and Portugal and being great cat lovers we missed feline contact. As we have travelled south through Italy, we’ve come across more and more camping cats. These are the cats that belong, however loosely, to the various campsites we have stayed at.

Our first camping cat at Lucca

A local neighbourhood cat that befriended us at the Siena camping

As we’ve made our way south and spent longer at places, we’ve got to know the cats well. Sometimes they are obviously feral cats in less than good condition, but more often than not they are fed by campsite owners and campers alike and seem generally healthy.

One of the many Costa Verde camping cats near Tropea

There can be just one cat at a site, but there have been up to 13 or so in some places. We make it a strict rule not to feed them, although we’ve often given them names.

Nero and Bianca - camping kittens near Taormina

And until now we’ve never let them in the van… that is until we reached San Vito lo Capo where it is impossible to keep them out for long. We still don’t feed them though.

So now we’re the mad cat people of La Pineta, San Vito’s year-round campsite. The cats have names and huge personalities, and are very affectionate. As we don’t feed them, it does seem more than mere cupboard love.

There’s Harriet, a large and very furry tortoiseshell. Sometimes also known as Furriet, she is friendly as long as it’s on her terms. She likes following you around, and likes companionship, but is not a lap cat. She is quick to lash out if you try to overstep her mark. Usually when we try to evict her from the van. She also lashes out at other cats if they come in physical contact. She enjoys her luxuriant fur being brushed. Has been known to try and help you brush your teeth, following you to the ablution block and stretching up to put her paws on the sink … She waddles when she walks and is generally very endearing.

She’s so very furry and round we dubbed her Hairy Harriet the Wombat Cat at first. She often acts like a teenager and huffs off ‘bovvered, me?’ or should that be ‘bovvato mi?’. Last night we couldn’t extricate her from the front of the van and looked set to have her in the van all night. Luckily after we had been dozing for half an hour, we heard movement and managed to entice her out.

Needy Noddy Nodward AKA Nodular Noddlebert and other similar derivations is a ginger and white tom who is completely soft and soppy in body and soul. He is almost too affectionate. We had a very strict ‘no entry’ policy on undone ginger toms being allowed in the van, but Noddy has completely wrapped us around his paw and no mistake. In fact, I would say that he has forcibly adopted us.

We have to open our sliding door wide to get in and out and he is so quick he is asleep on our sofa while we’re still looking around to keep him out. He will follow you around, will lick any exposed flesh, and sit on any bit of you that is available. He will also sleep for hours on your lap before you’ve really even noticed him. He is also the first cat to climb up the van onto the roof, and try and get in through the roof vent.

Needy Ned. A ginger and white tom who hasn’t been seen so much for a while. Rather battered in the face, he is the least cuddly but most attention seeking cat. He will trip you up to keep close to you as you walk by. We think Harriet could be responsible for some of the scars… and we believe lookalike Noddy is responsible for keeping him away from our attentions – he does want to be the sole cat of our affections.

Polly. A petite dark shorthaired tortoiseshell with a delightful chirruppy miaou. She is the affectionate ballerina of the bunch – and will head butt your hand and stand on her hind legs in a most delightful way. She likes to come in the van but doesn’t settle and doesn’t know about soft paws, so is a pain quite quickly – literally. She too is irresistible, hyperactive, but irresistible. Never stays still so not so many good photos of her.

At times our camping pitch has resembled the IKEA ‘Happy Inside’ (original, making of, and “the real commentary“) advert gone wrong. There have been moments when we have ‘allowed’ three cats into the van. Simultaneously. It really isn’t big enough and usually ends in tears and fur flying.

These cats have become such good company in spite of being exasperatingly underfoot at times. We know that when we move on early in January we will be sad to say goodbye to them.

Noddy and Polly about to start helping sort laundry...

About EllieGee

Following the road...
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7 Responses to Camping cats

  1. John Stenhouse says:

    Absolutely brilliant, many thanks for the run down. I’m afraid I would be feeding them was it me, I’m a big softy I know.

    Merry Crimble and happy new year to you both, keep up the blog it’s ace!

  2. Nick and Jo Spyropoulos says:

    Hope Im doing this right!! thanks for lovely Christmas e mail, yours from your amazing trip.. we are pretty well up to date with the blog,. so interesting. our journey into living in Bedford keeps us very busy, but all is well .Christmas good with all chidren and hopefully a new year with no builders!( they left at midday on Christmas eve). Happy new year !! Love from us all Jo

  3. HI. Is this Ellie Garraway that I met a million years ago in Austria at a Sound of Music tour? Let’s see, that was ….. 1983? Then I caught up with you in London and we went to a 2CV World Meet somewhere in the countryside – what a hoot that was. I was juggling out of the open pop top of her car from memory? Then, if it is you, you came and lived in Western Australia? It must be – there can’t be two 2CV drivers in the world with the same name? I googled you some time ago and you have just popped up on my linkenIn profile. I was wondering if your parents were still with us and how your life panned out. Let me know. I am still in Melbourne. Jenny Gardner – or JennyGee as I sometimes call myself – we are both Gees!

    • EllieGee says:

      Hi Jenny – it IS me! How lovely to hear from you after, what 24 or so years? We’re currently in a desert region without our own internet access so I’m battling with a dodgy French keyboard with Arabic instuctions. I will send an email to you as soon as we have an Orange reception again and update you on the intervening years. And will then look forward to hearing about your life too. All the best EllieGee

  4. Pingback: Kraking on | Wherever the road goes…

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