Living in this very rural part of France its nice to have some feline company. Our two cats Jess and Sophie (sisters) give us endless entertainment and earn their keep catching many rodents!
We acquired them as six month old kittens originally from a french farm. They arrived wide-eyed and nervous about their new home and we kept them indoors for a fortnight before letting them loose. We have no fences around our property and the garden backs onto the forest, so we needed to make sure that they were able to find their way back home. We shouldn’t have worried as for a few weeks they gradually expanded their territory with regular appearances back at the house for reassurance.
We keep them in overnight, on the advice of our neighbours, due to the number of feral cats, martens, badgers and wild boar around.
We have some large dogs near us who do bark loudly and they have learnt to belt back into the house via the cat flap at the first sign of any dogs. This happens more in winter, with the local chasse (hunt) quite active in the forest around us, and their dogs often get lost and end up whining at our door. They usually have a telephone number on their collar tabs and some of them are now kitted out with GPS collars!
They have completly different characters with Jess being more independent and regularly disappearing for hours. Sophie tends to stick nearer to the house and is more easily spooked by anything out of the ordinary.
They both hunt and catch a large number of mice, shrews, voles, and rats. They eat everything except the shrews, which apparently have a liquid produced by glands on the skin making shrews taste rather unpleasant to cats. They do kill the occasional bird, but not that often. The birds here are much more nervous than in the UK.
The large number of trees around provide them with endless opportunities for climbing. Jess is the more agile of the two and can get up and down with some agility. Sophie is not so agile and usually descends rapidly and not with a lot of control!
Its hard now to think of life without them around, they can be very boisterous in the house, especially if the weathers wet and they can’t or don’t want to go out, but its worth it for the pleasure they give us.