I mentioned in my previous post that Monemvasia has rather a few cats. I wasn’t kidding. It seems like there’s a hundred or more living in the old town, and a local shopkeeper told Mum and I that everyone takes turns to feed them. The numbers of course grow every year, and a vet visits annually to spay those they can catch and vaccinate as many as possible. It’s a rough life for the cats there, the many tattered ears and scarred faces testify to this.
They’re mostly quite friendly though.
Crouching down to pat one in the town square results in you being ambushed by dozens more, all after a little bit of attention. They come in all shapes and colours and sizes, from scrawny dirty kittens to fat fluffy ginger toms. And they’ll stalk you until they get the pats that they’re after! Luckily I’m a bit of a cat person, and was more than happy to dole out cuddles and scratches behind the ears. Some of them were more feral than others – the kittens in particular, as they haven’t quite associated humans with food just yet – and the least friendly seemed to be the scruffiest of the lot.
But anyway – LUNCH!
We were both quite hungry after climbing down from the plateau, and we spotted this little eatery that was a winner. primarily, because it was open.
The first thing we noticed was that a number of cats were waiting patiently at the door. We learned why when we opened the door, and felt the cats rush past, brushing our ankles. Before we knew it a woman appeared, round and slightly hunched, with a bamboo cane in hand that she used to beat the tables and chairs, making quite a ruckus and causing the cats to run and leap across the room. Over tables and under chairs, the woman kept smacking that cane until she got them all out. Or so she thought.
While she took our orders, we noticed a little white face peering out under the tablecloth of the table at the window. We said nothing.
The kitchen was next door, and so the woman had to go back out the door. Of course about three cats made a mad dash inside between her legs, dodging the cane. The white face we’d seen was strangely enough attached to a fat white cat, who wasted no time in leaping up onto the table and checking out what the couple there had left behind. He stuck his head in the glasses, sniffed at the ashtray and even thought he might like a chunk of bread.
Meanwhile, another cat had leapt up into Mum’s lap, despite us having no food yet, likely in the hope of using her cuteness to manipulate Mum into feeding her later.
The woman came back with our drinks and her stick, and this time she got all the cats out. It was seriously entertaining.
The cats, of course, didn’t go anywhere. Instead, they lined back up patiently by the window, peering in to see what might be having for dinner. Inevitably as I went outside to take some photos, a number of them got back inside.
It was around this time that a group of young weekenders from Athens arrived, with the most ridiculous looking dog you’ve ever seen in tow. She was a white fluffy thing, with perfectly groomed clean white curls and pink freaking ribbons tying up pigtails on top of her head. They took the table beside ours, and even sat the dog up on a chair. They were ordering a meal for the dog! I wish I’d taken a photo of the dog.
We soon got chatting to them, and noticed that the girl who owned the dog was twitching nervously every time a cat came near. It turns out she was afraid of cats. She and her companions thought it was awful that there were cats inside the restaurant – how terribly unhygienic it was, letting animals inside a restaurant, around food people were eating! While I agree that may be true, I felt that the entertainment value far outweighed any health concerns I held. I also found it funny that they never considered that their dog was also an animal, and just as unhygienic! They couldn’t see that having a dog in the restaurant, sitting up on a chair to eat a meal at the table was no better than letting the cats in!
We all had a great time laughing as the cats begged for scraps and the dog pretended to be tough, before cowering on her chair and hoping the vicious felines would leave her alone. I don’t know if the girl who was scared of cats found it as funny, but the rest of us enjoyed the show – interspersed with bouts of thwacking by the woman with the big cane. Those cats were persistent though. They’d let her chase them out, and then dash back in as soon as she opened the door to leave. We got the feeling that this was an endless battle, with little ill-will on either side. The woman laughed about it as she tried to boot them out, acknowledging that this particular game would never be over.
After lunch we explored the town, with a trio of curious cats in tow. They’d follow behind us, sticking their heads out of holes and perching on tree branches.
As we were leaving Monemvasia, I heard some ruckus in a rubbish bin and leaned over with my camera to capture the cat inside. Mum, however, had other ideas, smacking her hand against the side and giving the poor cat one hell of a fright. He leaped straight up, and I just managed to move in time to avoid an attack. It was one grumpy ginger tom, and he was mightily pissed off!
While I’m sure there are people who would prefer that Monemvasia was feline-free, I found that the cats made our visit so much more enjoyable and entertaining than had it been animal-free. But then, I love cats. Even the dirty, scruffy, cheeky and curious little beasts who roam this tiny town.