Written by Colleen Walther
Professional photography by Colette Baillie Photography
Percy is a free cat. He has many admirers and, although some may feel sorry for him, he loves his life and the freedom to come and go as he pleases.
The kitty with two names
Blue-eyed Percy was just a teeny-tiny kitten when he turned up in 2006 at the small cat colony which I feed in front of Larry’s Restaurant (where I work) and the Wimpy in central Margate, in KwaZulu-Natal.
This confident ginger boy started frequenting the Mugg & Bean coffee shop, where he was named Percy, during the day and Larry’s, where he was named Nugsy, at night.
To this day, nobody knows where exactly he sleeps – he guards his secret closely. But during the day he’s always around, bringing a smile to all his fans.
Home sweet home
When Percy was about two years old, he was injured, although nobody knows how. Meisie, a lady who owned a costume shop in the centre, very kindly took him to the vet, where he was sterilised and had his ear clipped (as is usually done with ferals to indicate that they’ve been sterilised). She then adopted him – but Percy had other ideas; he is a free cat, after all. After a few days, our ginger friend managed to get out and he ran away… in an area he didn’t know. But we needn’t have worried.
Intrepid Percy soon arrived right back where he started – with us in Margate; he’d crossed many roads and two big bridges to get there. He was visibly happy to be back – going around and greeting everyone like long-lost friends. We therefore decided that, as he so clearly wanted to stay, we would ensure that he’d always be cared for.
Safe and sound
That New Year (and every year thereafter), we put him in the SPCA Lower South Coast boarding kennel for his safety. And at Harley-Davidson® Bike Week (now Africa Bike Week®), the SPCA takes him in for his and the bikers’ safety. The SPCA looks after him pro bono, and if he seems a little “under the weather”, people contact me and I take him to our local vet, Dr Brüggemann of Margate Vet Hospital, who kindly gives me a feral discount.
We thank the SPCA for hosting him for at least 10 of his years as their guest and for contributing to his long life, as well as Dr Brüggemann.
On 16 June 2017, our Percy simply vanished. We were devastated, thinking he’d been killed or stolen, and there was an outcry on Facebook (he has his own page). Appeals to return or find Percy went on for a month until he was discovered at the tidal pool in Southbroom (we think he was taken and escaped). He was found on 16 July, exactly a month after he’d disappeared. After that, one of his sponsors paid to have him microchipped; he had a collar too, but it was lost after a week.
Percy is rather fussy with his food. Initially, he would only deign to eat pilchards; later, he decided to eat Whiskas pellets as well. A few of his fans deposited funds into his account at the vet for his shots and deworming, etc. Thanks to these funds I can now feed him Royal Canin Ageing 12+ to make sure he gets good nutrients (he absolutely loves it).
Mugg & Bean moved earlier this year, so now he spends his days lounging in front of the Wimpy restaurant being adored by his many fans.
In November, he even had a birthday party and received lots of his favourite goodies. He clearly knew he was guest of honour and hung around being photographed and petted. He loves people, and when little kids get a bit much or he’s had enough, he just makes a quick exit. He also had a “spa treatment” by one of his admirers as he was all grey and dusty; an indication that he may be sleeping in an underground garage.
We hope Percy stays around for years to come. He has a whole village to look after him and he’s a star, known even by overseas tourists who return year after year to check on him. That is the story of Percy: Margate’s mascot and honorary mayor.
Percy has his own Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/groups/304506836695770/ and will be featured on the SPCA 2019 Calendar.