How Babakat became Fred, the poster boy of the Deep South

22nd Sep, 2021

Written by Wendy Smith, his adoptive mom

Professional photography by Nat Gold ZA

This story about the adventures of one gorgeous tabby cat with the biggest, most expressive eyes begins in a town called Fish Hoek. Nestled in a valley between two beaches – Fish Hoek Beach and Noordhoek Beach – it’s a magical place where the winds sometimes blow a gale, causing everyone to batten down the hatches, then suddenly stop as quickly as they started, heralding a splendid day full of endless possibilities, filled with blue skies and brilliant sunshine, making it feel as though you’re in a fairy tale.

In this extraordinary place lived a much-loved cat called Tubby. He was a very special boy, rotund of girth, sweet of nature and very lovesick. He’d lived a wonderful life, filled with hearty meals twice a day and comfy places to nap in the sunshine. But alas, over time as he advanced in age, he became quite sickly, his joints hurt and he couldn’t groom properly. It saddened his loving parents to witness the daily decline of this once stately boy.

During this time, a young boy cat, called Babakat, lived two doors down from Tubby. He was well-loved but adventurous and found Tubby’s garden quite welcoming and magical – a place where he could nap and have a good wash in the sunshine. The owners of the house, Russell and Wendy, who adored animals, didn’t know Babakat lived close by but could see he was cared for. They welcomed him into their garden. Russell and Wendy were quite enchanted with Babakat’s extraordinary features – a grey stripy tabby coat, a magnificent stripy tail and the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen. His eyes were full of mischief and charm and intrigue – one didn’t know quite what to expect from this boy. And he was smart (some might say manipulative), and he used his charm effectively and indiscriminately to gain delicious treats – he had a particular fondness for big yellow butterflies and silly young geckos that came too close and liked to live on the edge.

From Tubby, of course, there was a lot of good-natured hissing and cussing, but Russell and Wendy were quite surprised that he wasn’t more upset about this brash kid from the block hanging around and being (secretly) admired by his parents. But all things happen for a reason and because of a greater purpose.

Unbeknownst to his adoring furparents, Tubby was preparing Babakat to be around long after he had to bid farewell and cross the rainbow bridge, where he’d be young again, free from sadness and pain and happy in the knowledge that he’d been well loved and would forever have a place in his dad and mom’s hearts.

Sadly, the day arrived when Tubby passed in his sleep and crossed the rainbow bridge. His parents were heartbroken. They couldn’t get over his death or fill the huge hole in their hearts. Wendy felt like she couldn’t breathe properly, she couldn’t sleep… she couldn’t eat. The tears would fall unexpectedly and at inappropriate times, but she couldn’t help it, her eyes would just leak uncontrollably. During this time, Babakat would pop in, especially on those overwhelming sad days, and tightly wrap himself around Wendy’s neck, trying to be of comfort to her. It was as though he was hearing Tubby’s voice in his ear, telling him to do this, knowing how sad Wendy was.

BABAKAT CHOOSES TO ADOPT THE SMITHS

One evening, as is his habit, Russell was making delicious rooibos tea before bedtime when he heard a cry outside the kitchen window. It was one of those evenings when the days darken early, the birds head off home to roost, and the geckos settle in for the night. Looking outside the window, Russell saw this grey boy cat crying to be let in. His heart melted at the sight of the cat’s big, beautiful and pleading eyes, and he felt compelled to bring him inside as it was growing so cold.

When this began to happen regularly and the cat spent long hours in Russell and Wendy’s home, clearly comfortably at home, Wendy asked the owners if she could adopt him. They happily agreed, as they could see Babakat was happy and content in the Smith’s home. It all seemed like a miracle as the timing was perfect: Babakat’s owners were moving, and if Wendy had waited any longer, the opportunity would’ve been lost to call him their own. And so, he came to live with the Smith’s; they named him Fred – it seemed to be an apt name for him.

And so, Babakat became Fred, and although he has many other loving names, mostly food-related, like Lil Chorizo Sausage, Pumpkin Fritter, Curry Bunny, Butter Chicken and Sweet Chickpea, he is Fred, or most commonly, FredStar (read below about his rise to stardom). His parents do have some concerns that, in time, if asked, he won’t be able to remember his real name, but one thing he does know is where his home is and how deeply loved he is.

FREDSTAR BECOMES A FACEBOOK SENSATION

Here in Cape Town’s Deep South – an area that spans Noordhoek on the Atlantic Ocean side around the southern side of the Cape Peninsula and back up around the Indian Ocean side to Muizenberg – resides a lively group of cat lovers. The Deep South’s residents are so enamoured of their feline companions that they started a Facebook Group called Deep South Cat Chat where proud cat parents share stories and anecdotes about their beloved cats, accompanied, naturally, by many, many photographs.

When Wendy first started posting about Fred, she was amazed by the number of likes and comments her posts attracted. Tales about his adventures, his enormous appetite for snacks, his gecko-hunting antics and his crazy post-poop wild actions, accompanied by photographs of his many expressions ranging from sweet and sleepy to bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, soon saw this photogenic boy become the darling of the group, hence his nickname, FredStar.  Members of the group eagerly await Wendy’s daily post about Fred’s latest doings, and should the day ever come when a photo and tale about Fred fails to pop up on the group page, there could well be wailing and gnashing of the teeth from cat-lovers in the valley and even further afield.

The Deep South is so proud of and in love with its poster boy, Fred, who brings great joy to all who follow his stories. But the pride, love and joy felt by the group comes nowhere near that of his adoring dad and mom.

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