Doughball the Farm Cat

When the ferryman arrived at the summer party with two of his home baked quiches, bursting with fresh lobster from his catch of the day, it encapsulated island living at its very best. It left a delicious lingering taste of fine seafood imprinted on our taste buds which, with a crowd of friends home for summer, led us to head over to Ian’s new Seafood Kitchen in Port Charlotte at the weekend. The meal did not disappoint as huge platters laden with lobster and clams arrived at the table, the menu proved a celebration of the very best of Islay’s ocean treasures.

It has been a sociable time. The island is bursting with life and we have found ourselves being swept into a whirlwind of work and play. Lots of fizz in the sunshine with spectacular ocean views from various homes, summer buffets and good craic. With all of the family home and the extended ‘family of friends’, a large tent is camped in the front garden, to accommodate the overflow from the farmhouse.

 It has been a bittersweet time though as at the weekend we said a final farewell to Doughball our Persabus cat.

Doughball was a cat among cats. She was part of the fixtures and fittings of Persabus life, choosing to join our family when the children were all ‘knee high to a grasshopper’.

The new tortoiseshell kitten was fondly named ‘Snowball’ which the Happy Potters quickly changed to ‘Doughball’, as she enjoyed spending a large part of her day sprawled out sleeping in front of the warmth of the kilns in the pottery workshop after several good feeds. Doughball was a very loved kitten. She got hours of attention from our young clan. They dressed her up and cuddled her until she was demented. She was one of the most photographed cats and made regular appearances in the ‘Persabus feature films’ being videoed by the youngsters. She was a trampolining, garden sliding cat, not always through choice.

Doughball liked to make her presence felt. She was an important part of the ‘Persabus welcoming committee’ on the farm and would always pay a visit to guests during their stay with us. If she found the guests to be extra special ‘cat people’ Doughball would often move into their holiday cottage and share in their holiday experience for the whole week. As a demanding cat she would of course not only expect breakfast, dinner and tea to be provided, but also a plentiful supply of cat treats.

Her trips around the island in the various cars she happened to climb into led to the childrens’ stern notices pinned on the pottery walls asking people to ‘check for cats in their car’ before leaving the premises. Once she even went for a spin on the back of the coal lorry.

In recent weeks Doughball was failing. She chose to spend those last weeks in the farmhouse, snuggled up in the chair or beside the heat of the Aga.

When we returned from our night out on Saturday she was missing. We looked high and low but there was no sign of Doughball. We spent the next day searching under every bush and hedge. It was a fruitless search, and after a night of heavy rain we feared Doughball had chosen to leave us and go quietly in her own space.

On Sunday afternoon eldest was in the shed when she heard a familiar meowling. Doughball was crying out to her from the bed she had made on top of the wool bales. Eldest, ever so gently, lifted her frail body and carried a purring Doughball back to the comfort and safety of the farmhouse, where after a lot of fuss and a small meal, she curled up on a cushion to sleep.

Late on that evening Doughball breathed her last breath with her favourite young clan stroking her gently. We love that Doughball, the Persabus cat, chose to spend the last twenty or so years of her life with us on the farm. She was the last of three musketeers, Spog (Tripod), Henrick and Doughball.

We have new musketeers though and last night Archieina managed to crawl into the tent and snuggle up among the friends and their sleeping bags, it seems she is enjoying the ‘Persabus camping experience’ on the farm.

Until next time…