Who knew that there was a black cat shortage in Palmerston North? I admit that it wasn’t really something I’d spent my time pondering on, and even though I’ve been on a few social crusades in my life, this wasn’t a crusade I thought was in need of a crusader. But such was the dire state of affairs with barely a black cat to be found in Palmerston North, that when a couple who lived on a farm near the small city saw one for sale on Trade Me (New Zealand’s eBay), they snaffled him up immediately.
Now, I don’t know how many black cats there really are in Palmerston North at all, but I do know that my younger sister absolutely put one called Salem on a plane and sent him up there to have happy days farming it up with some doting human companions at their cost. Palmerston North is in the North Island and is 430kms (268 miles) by air from Christchurch in the South Island, and somewhat more by road and ferry, due to NZ having a goodly amount of windy, hilly roads.
My sister – I’m the middle one of three – has a thriving hobby rescuing and re-homing cats and kittens. It’s more like a passion than a hobby, to be honest. She has an amazing success rate with turning wide-eyed and sometimes very unamused felines into the sort of cat companions you’d think had always had a nice comfy couch to sleep on, and not had their start in life at the dump they actually come from. When I say ‘dump’ I mean an actual dump – the Parkhouse Road dump to be exact, although it is officially called EcoDrop Parkhouse Road.
The back story to Sis’s cat rescue operation started when she was old enough to pick up any animal that was small enough for her to grab and cuddle if it came near, and she never stopped. Some time ago, on a trip to the dump to drop off some rubbish from the shop she was newly working at, she noticed – not cats, as you’d be forgiven for thinking that was where this particular line was going (they came later) – but some yellow plastic ducks bobbing around on the water in a kids’ plastic paddling pool in the dump’s grounds. Intrigued, she asked the woman working in the kiosk, Paula, what the story with that was. Paula explained that the water was for the stray cats around the dump to drink, whom she and others looked after and re-homed as best they could; and the yellow plastic ducks were one of their drivers’ own hobby. Whenever he spotted a yellow plastic duck amongst the rubbish, he rescued it and set it afloat in the wee pool.
After the yellow duck phenomenon was satisfactorily sorted, Paula and Sis got talking cats and kits. Soon the ‘dynamic duo’ set up a system between them for cat rescue and rehoming. One day, many cats and kittens later, a beautiful fully-grown, but still young, completely black boy from the dump went home with Sis, whom she named Salem. Salem had a lovely nature, which Sis knew would win him everlasting affection from his eventual forever human companions. Once he’d spent a bit of time with her to learn the ropes of being a domestic cat, was vaccinated and had his nuts whisked off, he was ready for a new life. The rest you know.
Currently, Sis has twenty cats and kittens at home. Some are permanent residents, but the bulk of them are dump rescues which are getting prepped for rehoming. Life’s kinda busy for her and her husband. The cats and kits are sold for what it costs her to vaccinate and de-sex them, and give them flea and worm treatments. Quite accurately, she figures that if people have to pay a bit for the cats and kittens, they will be more serious about really wanting them and taking good care of them.
Salem is apparently settling in very well in his new life. His new human companions have endowed him with a nickname – Megabucks – in honour what it cost to fly him to that new life. I can vouch that it’s a well-earned nickname. The pet courier from Move My Pet NZ who collected Salem for transporting came back to Sis’s after taking him to the airport and took one of the other rescues home with her. I call that a good day for cats and their servants.