Life starts at fifteen (when you’re a cat)

At the age of fifteen, Tonguç suddenly started to display a different kind of behaviour. Born in the streets of Istanbul, she was lovingly welcomed in the safety of her owner’s household. Together with housemate Black Pepper they crossed the Marmara Sea to the island of Büyükada, a well-known cat haven, quite some years ago. Life was good for the two cats there: a roof above their heads, always food and fresh water in their bowls and a lush garden for horsing around in. But Tonguç didn’t seem to be interested in ; she was more of a homebody. Generally, as soon as she had left the house, she wanted to come back in again not long after.  One memorable summer, when I was supposed to be online for a yoga training, she kept claiming her spot on my lap. So that’s how I meditated! It must have been too funny seeing her little head pop up at the other end of the screen! 

On the yoga mat

Upon my return one year later, her absence was immediately obvious.  In the past, it wouldn’t have taken her long to wrap herself around my legs, meowing “Hello! I am here! Have you noticed me? Pick me up please!” Cuddling was mandatory as far as she was concerned.  
No wonder I was stupefied when her owner explained that Tonguç now was living the life of an outdoor cat! She only came in occasionally to be fed. “I do understand,” her owner added, “it’s just stifling inside”. I was still surprised, as all previous summers the weather had been hot. Her behaviour seemed a radical change to me.  After having laughed it away with an ‘oh well, you know; old age doesn’t always come along with wisdom’, I quickly started changing my mind. From the balcony on the first floor I could see exactly what she was doing on her spot by the roadside. That she had picked because it was excellent for napping in the shade was obvious. But it was only when I saw with my own eyes how she was spending her days that I fully understood what it was all about. 
In spite of being of respectable age, Tonguç is still gorgeous. And as many visitors of the island regard the cats as a major local attraction, she got loads of attention. Not long after the first eye contact was made – usually this happened simultaneously with somebody making comments in a cooing tone of voice about how cute she was. Mostly girls of all ages would stop in their tracks, but I’ve also seen the occasional guy get off his bike to give her some fuss. Every now and again, people would offer her a handful of dry food; she didn’t care much for that though. It was for that reason that her son, a big, cool tom cat, joined her in the flirting with passers-by! 
But even the most hardcore cat fans carry on their ways after a while. Never mind: usually it didn’t last that long until the next cat fan would be stopping in his tracks. 

Queen of the garden

Nothing wrong with getting older, the life of a cat begins at fifteen after all!

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