Instinct – Mango, My Bali Cat. Published in The Bali Times, 08 June 09

I am lying on my bed, a tear rolls across the bridge of my nose under my eye on to the pillow. I have silently cried for over 24 hours and I wonder if there will be a time when I don’t feel this horrible pain of loss.

‘Don’t cry anymore’ Ganceng, one of my good friends at Honeymoon Guesthouse, tells me as I pass him on the way to work. I nod. Every time I open my mouth my voice is hoarse as I choke back the tears.

It happened so fast. Just like every accident that happens due to speed. One minute you are speeding along and the next minute you loose control because of something, something that, at normal speeds you could have easily avoided.

I look down. The cyclist is getting up. He’s ok. He turns to pick up his bike. How on earth did that happen? I walk around to see and there he is. Unmistakeable. The only white cat with ginger markings in the street.

He was from Jalan Suweta, Ubud’s Royal family’s street. I always said he and his sister were a royal pair! They were playing on the side of the road the day my friend, Janet, her two daughters and I found them. Janet’s girls wanted them but Janet said no! However they could live with me over at Second Honeymoon Guesthouse and her girls could visit.

He has the longest legs and his fur is pure white with ginger markings. Somehow I have dropped all my belongings. I pick him up. I know I am speaking but I’m incomprehensible.

Vet, Vet. It’s too late, I know. Vet, I am whispering now. Blood is pouring from his nose. I am covered in it. I hug him to my chest and keep saying his name. Mango, Mango. His body twitches but he is no longer in pain. Tears & blood are soaking us. I hear Yukde say ‘No, not just a cat. He was her child’.

My friend Made is stunned. He was about to drive me to Casa Luna and had just pulled up in his car. He has my bag, picked up, from where ever I’d thrown it. The motor cyclist is saying ‘but he just came out too quickly’. I look up at him. I know him. ‘You were speeding’. I say. How many times have I called out to people in this street? Slow down.

I hold my boy to my chest. His life is slipping away in my arms. He has gone.

Made hands me a sarong and I gently wrap up his body. A friend arrives and walks with me home. I have to shower but I don’t want to let go of him. I wrap him up in another sarong, a soft blue one, and place him on the bathroom floor.

Another blue sarong is wrapped around him and I go back with my friend. I am holding him on my lap. His body is still warm. The staff have heard and silently they start coming by. They bring messages from friends in Jalan Bisma. They have all had to catch him, and his siblings, on nights when I was late home. He was loved. One or two laugh gently, not in any malicious way, but to lull me out of my sadness. I will, I promise, smile again but now I can’t.

So much emotion over a cat? Is it strange in this society? He wasn’t perfect, the New Year’s morning snake in my bedroom and a couple of smelly mistakes on the bathroom floor, the neighbour’s chickens. The chickens were saved by quick thinking staff and delivered back, a little worse for the wear but alive. No he wasn’t perfect.

He and his two siblings have been my comfort here in Ubud so far from my children. They have bought me so much joy and he especially with his vocal responses to my calls when arriving home.

The staff bury him in the place where he, Tango and Yoko Ono had played so often in the past 15 months. They bring offerings and place them on his body that is now waiting for the earth to cover him.

Goodbye my beloved Mango, my beautiful Bali cat.

The air is cool and evening is descending. Friends come after work and we sit on my veranda. Tango and Yoko Ono are both sitting together on the wall surrounding the guesthouse temple. They sit quietly, staring toward Mango’s resting place.

One day at a time.

If you risk loving, you risk getting hurt. Isn’t that how the saying goes. But if you don’t take the risk you also miss out on the joy. Fifteen short months with my beautiful Bali cat but it was fifteen months of joy.

3 Comments on "Mango"

  • Bebta says

    Dearest Eli,

    Everytime our 4-legged, or sometimes 3-legged ones passed away, we just couldn’t hold back the tears, the overwhelming emotion often seen as “weird” by our surroundings.

    But, as the saying you have mentioned, if you risk loving, you risk getting hurt. We took that risk and we are grateful that we did because of the joy they have always given us.

    And especially when we managed a shelter, our hearts are constantly broken whenever one of them left us.

    Thank you for your constant care for these beautiful beings. God bless you.

    If you’re in town (Jakarta), please come and visit our shelter 🙂 (find us at

    Hopefully, I can visit Villa Kitty soon.


    • admin says

      Hello Bebta

      I have just read Doni’s sad farewell to Fido. All too often in animal welfare we lose our four, yes sometimes three, legged family members but the day I become immune to the sadness will be the day I quit!

      Mango was my first Bali cat. I found him and his sister, Tango who is sitting beside me with her adopted brother Yoko, in April 2008. They are now my big kids and are so kind to the little ones who come through my place. Some of course stay! Oops I now have 21 living with me and another 117 at Villa Kitty. Our hardest job: finding people to adopt these precious beings!

      The tears flowed reading of Fido’s death. Too soon! Too sad.

      We are on the same mission; to immunise and sterilise. That is the only way forward. Oh and educate. What an amazing education program you have at Animal Defenders.

      Thank you again for your kind words and yes I would love to visit Animal Defenders one day and I would love you to visit us, too!


      • Miranda Seymour says

        I cried reading this! I have 8 rescued cats in Los Angeles, and foster for the local city shelter. My sister and I plan to visit Villa Kitty later today, July 30. Xoxo

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