This blog is a reprise as I am a cat lover having grown up with cats. I myself have tamed wild ones in Nicaragua and am one of the very few fans of our exceedingly independent, feisty, particular and peculiar cat in my home convent — granted she lives with three and occasionally five dogs so she must defend herself.
I have made acquaintance with the cats in the Begijnhof courtyard. There are two: a tiger (brownish) and a black and white. The owners (as there are never masters of cats!) of these illustrious, proud felines live in the small homes within the Beguinage walls, those not part of the monastery which is inhabited by us nuns. Now, these cats are generally not out roaming except early morning when we go to Lauds and evening when we cross the courtyard to Compline. There are too many tourists at other times of the day and so smartly, the cats stay inside whether by choice or by the owners’ decision that I do not know. The black and white one has become friends and deigns to come over and be petted although I have been warned that he is gevaarlijk/dangerous but then I have had cats for 40 years…I get it! The tiger is not even friendly to the black and white who stalks him to play, but nothing doing. “Hiss Hiss” is the only reply.
Now as autumn approaches, the city has come to mow the grass and impeccably has returned with some blade to manicure around the many, many trees in the courtyard leaving an excellent nest of clippings behind next to each tree. The black and white cat Bertje (short for Albert) has claimed one of these piles for his own and each evening in a coolness can be seen curled and slumbering next to the tree. Our infirm sister from her second floor window hailed me one evening and insisted I go to make sure the cat was not dead. He/she most assuredly was not and was not terribly pleased that I interrupted his nap to check his pulse. Another sister commented slyly on the feast day of Blessed Bertinus that Bertje, the cat asleep under the tree that evening, even had a name day!
We have 2 wild cats in the back, one quite old, who come regularly for the leavings from the kitchen. They can also be seen roaming the orchard or monastery garden. I am tolerated at least but they are not anxious to make friends. All God’s creatures seem to find a home in the monastery and its grounds.