A Paralysed Stray Cat and a Dedicated Carer Experience the Beauty of Unconditional Love

But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both
Make mere life, Love.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

COSPICUA, Malta, 19/02/2017 by Alexander Johnson. Sugar’s life started brutally. As a small kitten he was thrown from the roof of a high building on to a hard pavement, a violent act which severed a part of his young brain, causing paralysis from the head down. Somehow, the little tabby managed to drag himself into a dark doorway, where his squeals of pain attracted the attention of a kind passerby who fortunately called a friend, an animal lover, well known for taking care of sick and injured cats. This was the beginning of many years filled with a deep bond of love and commitment between «Sugar» and his human Doris Zarb.

Even though he could barely move, the traumatised kitten was hard to catch, and still had a lot of fight left in him. Beaming, and with a twinkle in her eyes, Doris recalled, “When I finally managed to pick Sugar up, out of fear he bit me, causing my hand to swell like a balloon”. The weeks that followed involved journeys from one vet to another, the final diagnosis was Sugar would remain paralysed for the rest of his life. Doris told us, “I was recommended to have Sugar put down. However, he wasn’t in pain, and he had life, therefore there was no reason to destroy him, so I ignored the advice.”

Affectionately, Doris continued, “Furthermore, as the days went by, he started to accept me as his friend, and warmly purred when I stroked him. After that I couldn’t let him go. He was so sweet and loving, so I named him Sugar, and decided to keep him with me.” Since then, for the last thirteen years, due to his disability Sugar has had to be hand fed and cleaned several times a day, a chore which Doris lovingly does, besides seeing to any other needs.

No matter where Doris goes Sugar is close by, snuggled in his soft layered basket. “I also have him by me at night”, said Doris. “When he sleeps he lies straight and stiff as a board, not curled up into a soft ball like most cats.” Doris asserted further, “Sometimes, when he’s dreaming, he has moments of spasms, which wake me up.” Extraordinarily, in all those years Sugar has not been sick once! “The fall broke all his teeth, and we had to take them out,” related Doris, “but in the course of the years his gums have become so hard that he can chew dry food. Other than that Sugar, besides his paralysis, has had a very healthy life!” Taking care of Sugar means that Doris has had to sacrifice some of life’s pleasures, such as a holiday. “How can I have a holiday, when I’m needed here with my cats!” She smilingly exclaimed.

Doris has dedicated her life to cats, especially to the most vulnerable of the feline family. Over the years she has worked hard to establish one of Malta’s leading cat sanctuary, CSAF (Carers for Stray and Abandoned Felines), which today is home to over 250 cats. It is at the sanctuary that Sugar and Doris spend most of the working day. Sugar lies in his basket, surrounded by an entourage of cats, who seem to be very happy and proud to be in his presence. “The cats here love him, play with him, and one can see he enjoys it”, said Doris. On hearing Doris’ voice Sugar lifted his head to see where his loving human was. “I love all cats,” said Doris looking down at Sugar, “but Sugar has his own space in my heart.”

It was not expected that Sugar would survive a week, never mind to live all these years, but he proved all the pessimists wrong. Today, he is happy and healthy, with a lot more life to live, a miracle of love and devotion.

You can read more about Doris and the fantastic work of the  CSAF in the book dedicated to the humble work of the Maltese stray cat carers ‘Islands of Cats‘ on pages 79-85.


Our visit to Kitty Café – Nottingham: Adoptable kittens!

Hi everyone,

We are back with the second part of our visit to the cat cafe Kitty Café in Nottingham (Click for Part 1). In today’s post we would like to share photos of some of the adorable kittens that were up for adoption during our visit.

It certainly was A LOT of fun watching this little one chase his little yellow toy and try and carry it throughout the whole cafe. 😀

We were also pleased to see that the cafe had a Kerbl hammock as we used to have one of those for our two when they were little and know it was a lot of fun for them. 🙂

Of course there were many other cats in the cafe as well… Like this calico!

Notice the sisal in the background? Despite having used very sturdy furniture it’s obvious that their resident cats must be very happy and active cats as they’ve been making good use of the ropes around the furniture haha!

We hope you liked these two cuties and are looking forward to more photos from our trip.



Check Out These Cats

Hi everyone.  Today’s guest post comes from Paul who writes about his three favorite things – travel, food, and, of course, cats – in his blog paulseestheworld.com.  This post is an excerpt from a series of posts about big cats and other animals in Botswana, Africa.

This post is video and photo highlights looking at male lions, female lions, leopards, and a caracal.  I had the amazing opportunity to spend some time in Botswana tracking big cats for a period of time.  As someone who has had “domestic” cats my whole life I noticed how many behaviors our domestic beauties have in common with the big cats.

Male Lions

Let’s start with a male lion “greeting ceremony” – perhaps you have seen your cats do the same.

The “greeting ceremony” is customary of male lions that work together as a team.  This is a greeting when they are relaxed, happy, and well-fed.  These two hunted and ate a younger elephant the previous day.

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Seeing a lion in nature is an adrenaline rush – these are beautiful, graceful, powerful, elegant, and confident animals. Their front arms ripped with muscle, their rear legs show extreme power, their face beautiful in its complexity.  They clearly know they are the king.

One night one of the brothers appears to have “met” a female (based on tracks).  The following morning his brother roared for him to come back.  Turn up the volume in this video.

The video of course does not fully give the depth and effect of the roar.  It is so loud, so deep in the earth, in the air, through the trees, so amazing a sound.  He continues to search for his brother.

Male lions weighed maybe 400 or 500 lbs.  Lions can run up to 50 mph and leap up to 30 feet (that is crazy to think about, but then again many domestic cat can jump from the floor to the top of a refrigerator).  A typical pride of lions will be 2 or 3 males, perhaps a dozen females (including mothers and daughters) and their cubs. Males typically live to be maybe 10 or 15 years old.

Female Lions and Cubs

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We found a mother who recently had 5 cubs, along with the pregnant grandmother (pictured above), in a wooded area on a savanna in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.  In the first video, the mother lion is cleaning up 4 of the playful cubs after they enjoyed some zebra meat.  In the second video, the cubs greet their mother and lay with her.

In the video below, the runt comes to breast feed (watch the mama lion lick the zebra blood off of the cub around 33 seconds in – so cute).

The cubs needed cleaned up because they, along with their mother enjoyed a zebra for their meal.

The cubs also practiced play fighting which is good for when they are introduced to the rest of the pride.


Leopards are nocturnal animals and solitary. During the day, they rest in thick brush or in trees. They were much more difficult to spot than lions.

We also saw an adorable leopard cub in a tree waiting for momma to come back.

I had asked how the lions and leopards interact and the basic answer was they avoid each other, primarily the leopard avoiding the lion.  Made total sense.


Though the caracal looks like a fox it is a really a wild cat, weighing in at maybe 25 lbs (11 kg).  We were lucky to see this nocturnal secretive feline.  This cat really was beautiful.  I apologize for the photos as it was mostly dark outside (very wide aperture) and these cats really were not interested in letting us get too close, but perhaps they interest you enough to learn more.

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Bonus cat – Billysky

Clearly not a lion, leopard, or caracal, this is a domestic short-hair who shares a house with me – and occasionally shares a glass of water with me without even asking.  Blah. She made me promise to put her in this post.

Brief serious closing thought

For a great many reasons, the population of all kinds of large cats throughout the world continues to shrink, some approaching extinction, as does the land they live in.  If you are interested or concerned, a simple google search can help you learn more or give you a call to action.  Thank you for reading.