Travel: The lost and hungry felines of Chefchaouen, Morocco

Mysterious cat in Chefchauoen

Seeing you sprawled on the ground in a doorway in Chefchaoen, Morocco, something broke inside of my heart. I found myself so immensely concerned for your safety.

From your gaunt and shabby physique and milky, clouded eyes I worked out that you were severely malnourished. I attempted to pick you up gently but my Morocccan guides became immediately alarmed, telling me firmly in Arabic and broken English to leave you alone – you were just a street cat after all. I got the feeling that your kind were the suffering, invisible casualties of the alleyways and kasbahs of Morocco, below the poor beggars, below street orphans, below the livestock.

Your tired and hopeless eyes spoke volumes to me and reached into my soul, so  that when I look on this photo today, I can’t help but feel frustrated and regretful of my inaction. I wonder what was going through your head in this moment? You swayed and swooned in the mid-summer 40 degree heat. The kind of heat that felled goats and donkeys on the jagged cliffs of the high Atlas mountains. You appeared to be transcending yourself in your feline grandeur, striking a sphinx-like triumphal pose, even though your body rose to meet my eyes in extreme pain and hunger.

Although small and fragile, I realise that sometimes it’s the most feeble who are actually the most strong. After nine years, I wonder if you’re still alive. I would if I could, scour every inch of the citadel and scale every bright blue stairwell, market stall and hammam to find you and make your last days on earth comfortable.

I’d light a candle and put it in the window of the minaret for the never loved and never properly fed cats of Chefchaouen. And then as the muezzin chants out a call to prayer each night, perhaps this prayer will be answered too.

Mysterious cat in Chefchauoen
The mysterious cat in Chefchauoen Copyright, Content Catnip 2009

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

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