Leaving Malta with a family of seven cats and three mice

Leaving Malta with a family of seven cats and three mice

After a night of worrying whether or not our boat would be able to sail from Malta to Sicily, we were relieved to reach the port and find that the container ship we were booked on was indeed scheduled to leave.

On board with us were seven cats and three mice belonging to Julie, who works for Defra, and Colin, who designs video games. The couple arrived in Malta last year from Grimsby with three cats and three mice. Black-and-white mouse Jasmine and silver mouse Pearl were destined to be snake food before Julie rescued them. Brown mouse Bud was a wild mouse rescued from the jaws of Meo the cat — Bud stayed on with the family after convalescing.

Living next to a field in Malta, Julie and Colin were soon adopted by a family of seven more cats! When the time came to return to the UK, Julie would have brought all of them with her, but felt that three of the kittens were simply too feral to make the move. So she went to great lengths to introduce them into an outdoor cat colony, which worked out very well. So travelling with us are the three mice, the three original UK cats, and four Maltese cats: mum Grace and her three kittens.

Julie realised how easy it is to become involved with the cats on Malta. If she and Colin had stayed longer, she was planning to work as a volunteer with the colonies. The strays we saw and blogged about in our last post all looked remarkably healthy — unlike some of the places we visit, there seems to be quite a lot of harmony between the cats and the local community.

At the port we were once again amazed at how pets can be a great leveller. A very strict-looking port official checking our van broke into a huge smile when he saw our cargo of cats. ‘I have 11 cats,’ he told us, and proceeded to make cooing sounds and pretend tickles with his fingers. He was clearly hoping we’d open the compartments so he could give them all a cuddle!

From Sicily we crossed to the Italian mainland and headed to Bari, where we met up with courier M2. He took charge of Julie and Colin’s family to speed their journey to Nottingham in the UK, while couriers J and M continue towards Greece.

Waiting to board the boat to Sicily

Waiting to board the boat to Sicily

Our cat-loving port official

Our cat-loving port official

Julie saying 'au revoir' to her cats

Julie saying ‘au revoir’ to her cats

Pretty Grace, the kittens' mum

Pretty Grace, the kittens’ mum

Sam who has a cute black spot on her nose

Sam who has a cute black spot on her nose





Dave and Cleo snuggled up together

Dave and Cleo snuggled up together

Shy Meo finally popped out to say hello

Syd and Chockie simply didn't want to know at first…

Syd and Chockie simply didn’t want to know at first…

…but finally emerged to show us how gorgeous they are

…but finally emerged to show us how gorgeous they are

Jasmine, representing the mouse contingent


  1. Lavinia Ross Feb 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Some story of the cats and the mice! Beautiful passengers, all of them!

  2. Jovina Coughlin Feb 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Did the cats know about the mice?

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 8:55 am - Reply

      We suspect the cats have known about the mice from the get go but have grown bored of not being able to ‘play’.

  3. Sheila Morris Feb 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    I also was curious about the cat and mouse combination Julie has going on there!! Whatever makes them all happy is good!! 🙂 Great story and pictures, too!!
    Glad you were able to keep everyone on the move to the right places…amazing work you all do.

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 8:57 am - Reply

      Got to love people who take in needy animals! Journeys of this length can be complicated and we try to make sure than no passenger has to be on board for too long.

      • Sheila Morris Feb 4, 2015 at 9:31 am - Reply

        May the Patron Saints of cats and mice protect you…truly. And bless you for what you do for the creatures.

  4. G Griffiths (@TinyMapTurtles) Feb 3, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Mice seem remarkably relaxed among a cargo of cats! Glad to see Malta has now become a regular destination for Animal Couriers -third trip since Nov. Of course my turtles, axolotls and African snails historic journey will always be remembered as the first “pioneer” travellers to Malta in your newly adapted van!

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 8:59 am - Reply

      You were certainly the ground breaker! How are your pioneer turtles, axolotls and African snails? Hope you’ve all settled well on that lovely island.

  5. onespoiledcat Feb 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    What a crowd on that trip……….how wonderful all those kitties got a forever home – it’s amusing that cats were traveling with mice…..!!


    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Julie & Colin have big hearts! We suspect the cats have lost interest in the mice as they’ve lived a long time together and ‘playtime’ isn’t really on the cards 😀

  6. Austin Starr Feb 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    nice to hear from you with your latest adventures and fine cats. Cleo looks a bit like my late, great Pandora so, of course, she stole my heart . . .

  7. angelswhisper2011 Feb 3, 2015 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    That sounds like a fairy tale….one I can only dream about 😀 Have a save trip. Pawkisses 🙂 <3

  8. Curt Mekemson Feb 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I am sure the mice are disappointed they didn’t get equal time in photographs. 🙂 Hard to compete with Sam, however. –Curt

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 9:04 am - Reply

      Having managed to get three rather dreadful photos of Jasmine, we decided that mice really aren’t interested in the limelight 😀

  9. orples Feb 3, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    As always, it is a joy to check out your newest selection of furry passengers. I hope they all find themselves in loving homes before all is said and done. 🙂

  10. Sand Spring Chesapeakes Feb 3, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    what beautiful kitties and a good looking mouse what a great story. safe travels

  11. tootlepedal Feb 4, 2015 at 12:05 am - Reply

    Careful handling required!

  12. Clive at AnimalGiftIdeas Feb 4, 2015 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Syd & Chockie have lovely markings – have a safe journey back! 🙂

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Haven’t they! We were very relieved when they popped out to show themselves 🙂

  13. Clowie Feb 4, 2015 at 7:30 am - Reply

    That’s quite a collection of cats. I’m surprised the mice are relaced, but then I suppose they’re used to cats around!

    • Animalcouriers Feb 4, 2015 at 9:07 am - Reply

      You got it Clowie – they know that ‘playtime’ isn’t on the cards 😉

  14. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie Feb 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    After reading about how those in Malta treat street cats and cats in general, I’m in love with their country. What a wonderful place where cats are treated with so much care and concern. 🙂

    • Animalcouriers Feb 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      We’ve been particularly struck by the people of Malta and how they look after their street cats – haven’t seen such lucky cat communities in many places!

  15. 7 cats and 3 mice? That is quite the match up isn’t it? hahaha!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  16. easyweimaraner Feb 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Grace looks a little like Savannah :o) that could be a challenge this time … hope you have enough kitty treats on board :o)

    • Animalcouriers Feb 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      She does indeed look like Savvy. Luckily everyone had enough of the food they were supposed to have 😀

  17. becomingcliche Feb 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    awww! mice! i have a mouse story to tell one day. jasmine is darling!

  18. Kev Feb 4, 2015 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Aw, bless! 😀

    • Animalcouriers Feb 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      It is a lovely story of how they all came to live with Julie & Colin!

  19. saymber Feb 4, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Grace could me my May’s sis! You certainly have some great adventures and meet such wonderful people. I love that you take the likes of me along! 🙂

  20. Andrea Feb 5, 2015 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Hi, very nice story and pictures! How Simba is doing? Would it be possible to see any picture of him?

    • Animalcouriers Feb 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Andrea, Simba’s doing just fine. We’ll ask courier M2 to send a pic.

      • andrea Feb 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm - Reply

        Thank you! Loking forward to see the pic then!

  21. Marty the Manx Feb 6, 2015 at 2:24 am - Reply

    What a beautiful family. Made me smile when the port official had 11 cats, I guess a bit fitting for cat filled Malta 🙂

  22. Nylabluesmum Feb 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    What a lovely story about Julie helping with the feral cats & caring enough to assist the 3 too feral ones to find a proper enviroment! That is one wonderful lady!
    As for her menagerie: WOW!!
    How she keeps the 7 cats & 3 mice together w/out incident is wonderful….
    Safe trip to all of them & Julie & you & the Couriers of course!
    Love Sherri-Ellen & Siddhartha Henry <3 <3

    • Animalcouriers Feb 10, 2015 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      We think Julie did so well to get the really feral cats accepted into a local community – often they find it very difficult to move to new locations, especially if living outside isn’t so easy. The mice kept well and truly to themselves 😀

  23. Jodi (@HeartLikeADog) Feb 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    How interesting. CATS and MICE!! I don’t think I’d be that brave. 🙂

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