This is a post about Sarah Menzies who went to Africa and felt like she received a big hug from nature. And, you know, I can definitely understand that even though I have not been to Africa. Sarah has her own website: catteemission.com, where she raises money for homeless and unwanted cats through the sale of cat tee shirts that she’s designed.
She wrote about her trip to the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia. I know that Namibia is the country that has the biggest population of cheetahs. It is a kind of last stronghold of the cheetah in Africa. Sarah had the privilege of meeting some cheetahs and a number of other wild cat species during her stay.
Which conveniently brings me to the title of this post. You know how our domestic cats like to come onto our bed for a snooze, a bit of social interaction and tender loving care. This is partly because our beds smell of us. We know that cats are into smells big time.
Well, it seems to me that Sarah made a friend in Atheno, a cheetah, because he (she?) was on her sleeping bag when she went to bed and then slept by her side. Gorgeous isn’t it?
My Charlie (three legged black cat) does this sort of thing! Not quite the same though, is it? It seems to me that Atheno likes the smell of the sleeping bags. And he likes Sarah because he stayed next to her for a while. Imagine sleeping under the stars next to a cheetah. No wonder Sarah says that she felt like she got a big hug from nature. She did.
She returned to her roots. I would think that a lot of people feel like Sarah after they experience the wild of Africa. It is a form of nature that is more raw than anything available in America and certainly Europe. And when you are in it, you are returning to where homo sapiens came from. That’s if you believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Before anyone has a fit worrying, Atheno is tame. Cheetahs are the largest of the wild cats that are predisposed to being domesticated. They are quite shy it seems to me. A bit like the cougar. The Sunquists in their excellent book, The Wild Cats Of The World describe the cheetah as “timid” and “retiring” and certainly less aggressive than the lion, leopard and hyena. This trio of “more aggressive carnivores kill adult cheetahs” they say.
The cheetah’s friendly character resulted in maharajas training them to hunt in days gone by.
Another cat that Sarah got close to (and held) was a caracal. This smaller wild cat species was also trained to hunt at one time. The phrase “to put a cat amongst the pigeons” (meaning to stir up trouble) refers to caracals of the 19th century hunting for their owners and catching birds. They are great catchers of birds.
The caracal is a robust, powerful medium sized wild cat with a stern expression and lynx tipped ears that are world famous. Of all the felids the caracal has the most outstanding ears. They can be tamed and domesticated too, and a former owner, Deborah-Ann Milettte, says the caracal communicates with its ears and the long fur on the tips assist in communication.
When you receive a big, warm, welcoming embrace from mother nature, it is going to be a tough goodbye and so it was for Sarah. She says she started crying the night before she left. Bless.
Here’s one last touching photo that is tinged with sadness:
Please visit Sarah’s website Cat Tee Mission and read the full story.