You hid out for four days, undoubtedly terrified, waiting.
Then one morning, you plucked up every ounce of your feline courage and found your way back home at five o’clock in the morning. You walked through the door I’d left open and into the kitchen and scarfed down as much food as you possibly could. You looked up at me when I saw you, seeming almost puzzled as I burst into sobs.
Since then, you’ve curled up with me at night while I slept with my elbow tightly around you. You’ve tucked yourself under my arm while I typed on my laptop with the other. You’ve dozed soundly on your bed while I worked a foot away on my desk.
You diligently caught mice in my old apartment and have enjoyed bird- and squirrel-watching vantage points at my new condo.
You don’t meow excessively and you haven’t broken or scratched things, only adding some wear and tear to the couch… a small price to pay for your constant companionship throughout the pandemic.
When my beloved cat Sophie recently escaped, I postponed the departure date for my sabbatical trip to Southeast Asia – and seriously considered cancelling it altogether. I didn’t feel right leaving with her still out there somewhere, and certainly couldn’t imagine enjoying a vacation.
When Sophie joyously returned home, I went ahead and took the trip, only having to delay my departure by a few days. One of the things I’m so grateful I still got to do was visit Villa Kitty.
♦ ♦ ♦
When I was planning the Bali portion of my trip, I knew I wanted to try to get off the beaten tourist path a bit. Beaches and waterfalls and temples are lovely, but what do I really care about most? Animals are high on the list. And of course, more specifically, cats.
In the process of researching photo tours, I learned about Villa Kitty, an Ubud cat rescue founded by Elizabeth Henzell. Reading about their work struck a chord, so I wrote to Elizabeth, who graciously invited me to spend some time volunteering. While the rescue pays staff like vets and animal technicians, there’s never enough time to cuddle and play with all the cats and kittens, to help heal and socialize. That’s where volunteers come in.
When I got to Villa Kitty, Elizabeth welcomed me warmly. The whole operation blew me away – a huge serpentine maze of brightly coloured corridors and open spaces full of cats and kittens playing, sleeping, curled together in cages, quarantine rooms, and play areas, depending on their age and health status. The place is currently bursting at the seams, housing 300 cats, but the space is well organized and efficiently run.
People walk into Villa Kitty with tiny kittens found in gutters, ditches, and river banks; cats who are injured, orphaned, or abandoned; and every other heartbreaking scenario you can think of. Staff bottle-feed the littlest ones, perform free sterilizations for the community, and continually spread the word about caring for cats responsibly. They place kitties in foster homes and find adoptive homes for as many as possible.
I wish I’d had more time to spend with all these cuties, but I know I’ll return if I’m ever in Bali again. And if you’re a cat lover who finds yourself in Ubud, your cuddles are needed at Villa Kitty – so don’t hesitate to reach out!