If you are not a cat lover this blog post may not be for you! But if, like us, you are please read on.
We think there is something special about the hostel or mountain refuge that has a cat. It creates a focal point for the guests as it goes about its business of being a cat, largely aloof but occasionally affectionate!
When we left our jobs to go travelling round the world at the end of the twentieth century our cat, Loopy, was looked after by a friend in London. So, suffering withdrawal symptoms, we were always happy to encounter cats along the way. Particularly memorable are the evening spent playing with Thumper, the resident hostel cat with extra toes in National Park, New Zealand. And a campsite in Parque Nacional Los Alerces, Argentina, where we had to compete for the favours of two cats with a young brother and sister on a camping trip with their parents. Milk and ham helped win the day! They even kept Greg company in the tent when he had a bad back and couldn’t go on a hike with Helen. Almost made up for not seeing woodpeckers and an armadillo. And then there was the mad kitten chasing sugar cubes round the Auberge Le Maillet near the Cirque de Troumouse in the French Pyrenees.
More recently on a trekking trip in the Pyrenees we met Salsa, the cat at the Refuge de Venasque, a beautiful spot high up in the mountains close to the border between France and Spain. Her playthings were a long dead mouse that she tossed around to make it seem like it was alive and our sleeping bags. We forgave her, of course! And later on during the same trip, having crossed over into Andorra, we upped our cat tally coming across a “Top Cat” and his posse lounging about on a car in the sunshine.
So it was inevitable that Saddle Mountain Hostel would have to have a cat. As luck would have it we have two black cats, Penne and Righi, who were already in residence when we moved in. They are adapting well to their new humans, living with us in the flat above the hostel. Their daily routine seems to consist of sleeping, hunting and the occasional helping paw around the garden! And we are enjoying having them around too, especially now we can tell them apart.