The Mysterious Stray Kitten of Havana, Cuba

Let me start by setting the scene. I’ve never really been much of a pet person. Growing up, we never had them at home and animals didn’t really feature highly in our day to day lives. It’s not that I don’t like them – I love animals (excluding all things creepy or crawly) and when we got engaged, it took us next to no time to decide that our dream honeymoon would be a safari; of all the travel experiences I’ve had, I’m not sure anything will ever beat the feeling we had spotting wild animals out in the African bush in the first week of our married lives.giraffe Tanzania Selous safariSo why am I waffling on with these stories on this month’s link up you ask? You see, when the theme of “greatest love on the road” was proposed, there was one particular little beauty that I remembered (and no, it was not this towering and splendid giraffe.)

An adorable kitten lurking in Havana

Earlier this year, Pumpkin and I impulsively headed to Cuba and spent a few days taking in its colourful capital, Havana. One afternoon, we were walking through the Old Town, suffocating in the soaring temperatures, perspiring away our body weight on a heaving street when I spotted a little cutie pie hiding underneath a bush on the side of the road. I pointed her out to Pumpkin and we stepped aside to take a look. I don’t know why I thought she was a she but I just had this gut feeling.

She was tiny, the kind of kitten that would comfortably fit within the breadth of your palms. The pictures don’t reflect her size well because I fell so in love with her that I zoomed in to capture her every feature. A little apprehensive at first, she purred vulnerably when she saw us but we took cautious, quiet steps, wary not to frighten her away. And then she warmed to us and stayed put, seemingly at ease in our presence. But where was her mother? I’m no zoologist but surely a kitten this young isn’t supposed to be out and about alone?stray kittne Havana old townWe scoured the vicinity but there was no sign. My stomach started to do that somersault thing it does when I’m nervous, when I’m anxious or when it’s the morning of an exam. Was she abandoned? Was she an orphan? I hoped that her Mother was around somewhere. I couldn’t bring myself to leave her.

Pumpkin by now reached the limits of his interest in the situation. You’ve got to hand it to him for consistency – he’s not a cat-man, he never has been. But seeing that I wasn’t about to leave anytime soon, he sat on a bench near the bush, seeking solace in the shady shadows cast by the trees. I watched my new love rolling around on the bush, hiding from the midday heat. Each purr made me worry for her hunger, her safety and her well being.Old Havana Vieja colourful buildingsBut I also felt so helpless. If she were in England, I would know to call the RSPCA. But here in Havana’s old town, I had no idea. And I didn’t know if I even had reason to worry. And so, after nearly half an hour of watching her with love, I left her with a heavy heart. Pumpkin is not known for his great detective skills when it comes to understanding the subtle nuances of female psyche but he spotted my sadness. He gave me a hug poignantly and told me she would be alright. He understood the strange protectiveness I felt for her – which was in itself strange seeing as even I couldn’t understand that.

I hope she’s still wandering around Havana’s old town, plumper, more streetwise and unharmed. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a cat but if a married couple are going to get a cat, you really do need buy-in from both parties!

Have you always been a pet person or have you ever had a moment that made you think again like I did here?

Part of a monthly travel blog link up with Kelly, Emma and Rebecca.


23 thoughts on “The Mysterious Stray Kitten of Havana, Cuba

  1. Awwww! It always breaks my heart a little to see strays. There were soooo many stray kitties in Istanbul. It made me feel a little better to see that they mostly weren’t overly skinny or anything. And sometimes I saw people leaving out some cat food on doorsteps. But once in a while, I’d see one that’s just skin and bones and it makes me SO sad. And all I can do is sneak it some of my meal.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:49 pm

      I’m so glad you can relate and it does make me feel better hearing that most of the ones you saw were nice and plump – I hope “my” one is now chubby and plump too 🙂 Thanks for reading Anna!

  2. I completely get stressed about stray animals. I was in Athens last week and all those sad dogs and cats were roaming around. They were pretty friendly but so sad that no one was taking care of them.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:51 pm

      It’s sad isn’t it Shoba thinking about whether they’re completely abandoned or not? Werd you out there for Tbex or just a holiday? Hope you enjoyed it and thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  3. Ooooh, she’s beautiful!
    Just accidentally bring a cat home one day – if he’s anything like my husband he’ll fall head over heels for your beastie – despite ‘never liking cat’s’.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:54 pm

      Hehehehe – you have NO idea how many times that same idea has crossed my mind Emma 🙂

  4. She’s so cute Shikra!
    On my overland tour through the Middle East years ago, our tour driver fell in love with a stray dog and we carried him through Syria and Jordan but then he ran away, really sad sad story but silver lining – he was well fed for a week and he got a free ride! xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:57 pm

      Thanks Kelly! She’s beautiful isn’t she?! Oh that must have been so upsetting when the dog ran away – I know I’d have gotten attached but yes at least you know he got plenty of calories in that week 🙂

  5. What Emma said!! you just need to bring one home one day and watch him become super protective of it… He’ll eventually think he found it. Cute story!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:59 pm

      Thanks so much Kat! Hehe, Pumpkin’s going to be knocking on yours and Emma’s doorsteps in a rage if I take this cheeky but brilliant advice on board! 😀

      1. oooh! I’m soooo scared!! 😉

  6. Aw what a sweet little kit! I wrote about falling in love with a cat in my link up, and when I started writing it and talking to people, I realised how common it is to fall in love with animals abroad and even adopt them! I remember seeing lots of street cats in Havana when I went a few years ago – I wouldn’t worry, I think they’re pretty street wise there!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 11:01 pm

      Thanks Fuschia! I feel a lot better hearing that – I hope that’s true and she’s been taking good care of herself! Will definitely check out your link up to hear your story too 🙂

  7. I’m definitely not a pet person but since being on my currently trip I’ve found myself really warming to the dogs I see (it did start with a cat but I decided I’m much more a dog person) I’ve now warned the BF that when we get home i think we should get one.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 10, 2014 — 11:45 am

      hehe, I’m the same Jenna about the way I’ve being slowly converted to the pet idea – the men have been warned!! 😀 Thanks so much for reading!

  8. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that I love animals, so you know that I would completely feel your pain in having to leave this adorable little thing. I always seem to come across cats or dogs (or pretty much any sort of animal) that I make friends with when I’m travelling and I would hate to have to leave a kittie this small without knowing if she would be okay or not. You should have smuggled her home in your bag and I would have gladly taken her off your hands! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 10, 2014 — 11:47 am

      Oh believe me, if there was any way in the world I thought I could keep her, I absolutely would have done! If you see her in Havana when you go, can you check she’s ok and give her a little hug from me? 🙂

      1. I certainly will don’t you worry about that 🙂

  9. I’ve always been a cat lover and can’t be without one to come home to at the end of the day (or when I’m back from my travels). My current cat, Bonnie, came from the same rescue centre that they have pretty much all come from but she’s a bit of a handful. She’s slowly getting better and generally remembers not to bite the hand that feeds her, at least not too hard anyway!
    Hope this lovely little cat is still wondering the streets of Havana, happy and healthy.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 10, 2014 — 11:48 am

      Oh Kathryn, that sounds just lovely – you are absolutely convincing me that I need to have a lovely cat to come home to after work as well 🙂 Sounds like Bonnie has had a tough time in the past but seems as if you are doing a great job with her! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  10. Ahh, she looks like such a cutey! I really hope she’d doing well too!

    Love that giraffe pic too – I have a little bit of an obsession with giraffes! Would love it if I could have a giraffe as a pet! Haha!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 10, 2014 — 11:54 am

      hehe, good luck with that!! Would it fit in your home?! This giraffe is pretty amazing though isn’t he? 🙂 Thanks for commenting Catherine 🙂

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