The back end of 2014 was spent planning and preparing for a number of changes in our household. I had decided to locate my new company in Cebu, the second largest city in the Philippines and one of the top ten most beautiful tropical islands in the world. I spent a bit of time travelling back and forth from Manila to Cebu to find us a house and to secure office space. I could have moved us as early as November, but a good friend was coming to stay in December for almost the whole month. We had met in Manila more than five years earlier; she arrived about the same time as me on a posting with the Australian Embassy and returned to Australia the same time that I moved to India. We had lived in the same apartment complex and she was coming back to visit former colleagues and friends. I had extended the invitation for her to stay with me over six months earlier, so I would not relocate until after her visit.

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I planned for the apartment to be packed up on 5th January, leaving minimal belongings for us to live for the 7-10 days it would take for our stuff to arrive in Cebu. I’d fly to Cebu, get everything packed and set up, then return to Manila for the kitties. That was the plan anyway…..

Once I had a house picked out, I was so excited for the kitties! I did love the benefits of having indoor cats –  they were always clean, always safe, and I didn’t have to worry about the wildlife, or them getting lost or injured. But I really wanted them to experience the kitty joy of lying on the grass in the shade of a tree on a sunny day, and chasing butterflies, and the sights and smells of the outdoors. How exciting for us to live in a house with a garden! I knew I’d miss my big-city views from the 30th floor of my condo, but suburban living beckoned.

There was just one thing that still bothered me, after all these months; those foster kittens Munro and Leyte, that I had never been able to recover. They haunted me, and one day I realised there was only one thing that would help. Now, I have a lot of Instagram followers, and while I don’t always thank people for their comments, I do read every single one, and I answer all questions. I also check out the (non-private) accounts of all new followers. And so it was that one day, I looked at the account of a new follower, Purr Haven Cats, and realised it was also based in Manila. And – whoa! They had a houseful of tuxies!! My only contact with a tuxie kitty was Munro, and I had loved him to bits.

I contacted Nyree from Purrhaven, and told her that if she had a tuxie kitty, I would adopt it. Just the one, and I’d prefer a little one. She didn’t have any just then, but she had just rescued a pregnant cat who was black and white, and she promised me one of the kitties when it was old enough. We kept in touch over the coming weeks, and then the mama cat gave birth prematurely – she was young and unhealthy. The first poor baby was still-born, the next three were live births – two “cow” kittens and a tiny baby panther, and sadly one of the cow-kitties died in the first night. Over the coming weeks Nyree shared information and pictures with me of these sweet little babies, until one day the vet said they would be better off separated from their mama who was unwell and not producing enough milk. Of course I wasn’t going to say no to another house panther! And in my nice big house in Cebu, an extra two kitties would be just fine. I collected the two babies, when they were there weeks old and brought them home – my houseguest was travelling for the weekend but had a nice surprise when she returned! I named them Tully and Shay, Irish names for a very good friend of mine. The mama cat, still with Nyree, has also been given an Irish name – she is now Bailey and a really beauty.

My household of six kitties, two babies and a houseguest celebrated Christmas together, and ushered in the New Year with much anticipation of our upcoming move.

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