Tag Archives: cats

Maho Guest Spotlight

Althea, Maho's beloved calico cat, sleeping in one of her favorite places along Maho's boardwalks. Please donate to the fund established in her memory.
Althea, Maho’s beloved calico cat, sleeping in one of her favorite places along Maho’s boardwalks. Please donate to the fund established in her memory.

“In Memory of Althea,

the Beloved Calico Cat of Maho Bay Camp”

Today I want to share to a meaningful charitable cause and initiated by a generous and thoughtful former Maho Bay guest, Cathey Beard.  Cathey, who first visited St. John in the early 80’s and later stayed at Maho Bay Camps with her children, has set up a charitable fund “In Memory of Althea, Beloved Calico of Maho Bay Camps”, in honor of Althea who many guests came to love while staying at Maho. Sadly, Althea passed away a few months after Maho’s closing. All donations will benefit the non-profit St. John Animal Care Center (ACC), going towards care of the islands cats.

The ACC states “the money raised from the “In memory of Althea” fund will help us catch/feed/spay & neuter/medicate many of the islands stray cats. And not just the free roaming cats, but the cats that the shelter puts up for adoption. One of the shelters biggest expenses is supplying the feeding stations on island. Last year the ACC caught 321 cats and had them fixed. Our main goal is population control.”

You may donate to Cathey’s ACC fundraiser online at Razoo.com, linked here.

Cathey Beard and her daughter Lauren at Maho Bay's Dining Pavilion. Cathey has established a fundraiser in honor of Althea, Maho's beloved Calico Cat.
Cathey Beard and her daughter Lauren at Maho Bay’s Dining Pavilion. Cathey has established a fundraiser in honor of Althea, Maho’s beloved Calico Cat.

Not only has Cathey visited Maho and St. John on at least seven trips over the years, but her daughter Lauren fell in love with the island too and came down as a 4-hour worker for a couple of summers at Maho Bay Camp. Cathey’s feelings about the specialness of her time at Maho Bay Camp captures a collective sentiment:

“Maho to me is HEAVEN!! For a marine biologist who grew up in Miami and the Florida Keys – for a frustrated scuba diver who can only snorkel because of ear problems – to someone who just thrives on sand, sea, sunrises & sunsets – it was always perfect!! To be able to walk off a beautiful beach into crystal clear water to see glorious reef fish and corals – it was just “Heaven on Earth” to me!!  I am so praying that heaven is just like Maho when the time comes too!!  We visited Annaberg Ruins on New Year’s Day one year and saw a huge pod of dolphins down below.  One dolphin did couple of flips out of the water in front of a small boat – I’m sure those people couldn’t believe it!

I want to wholeheartedly thank Cathey for creating this fund for the ACC and the island cats on her own time! It was her intention to create a positive way to respond to the sadness of losing Maho Bay Camps and of losing Althea as well. This is Cathey’s third summer fostering cats and kittens at her local animal shelter, and her work inspired the idea for the In Memory of Althea Fund. She knows there is always a tremendous need for help, homes and funding! And while she knows firsthand the beauty of St. John, it is also a harsh environment for homeless animals trying to fend for themselves. And it seems Althea was doing just that for a while. Cathey said she can’t stand to think of helpless animals suffering in this challenging environment.

We need more people like Cathey who respond to situations with thought, compassion and inclusion of others (human and animal!), versus simply reacting to what happens around us.  All it takes is one person who feels strongly about doing something good to make a big impact, especially on St. John.

Please go to the Razoo site and make a donation if inclined.

Or you can help by sharing the donation page with friends who you know would like to help!

Thanks from both of us!!

Rest in Peace Althea

I am sorry to say I have some sad news: Althea died this morning.  She has been living with a former Maho Bay Camps chef near Cruz Bay and being well taken care of.  I imagine the stress of moving to Coral Bay with someone she had never known before and then the time she fended for herself until finding Marty in Calabash Boom, her age and being away from the only place she knew as home was too much. Crispin said he was there to comfort her and she was not alone.  Althea was a very special presence at Maho  and she is always a part of my memories of Maho Bay Camp…

If you have any photos you’d like to share, please email them to me with any comments you’d like me to add. I will gather any sent over the next few weeks and will put together another post with them all!  You can find my gmail address on my Contact page.

p.s. Unfortunately Eco (the grey and white cat that could be found near the art gallery and sometimes the bar area) died a few weeks after leaving Maho also. He was younger and living with a former staff person so it came as a real surprise. It is sad to hear, like another nail in the Maho coffin so to speak, yet I am not surprised. These cats always seemed very happy and content at Maho and obviously thrived off of being around so many people or they would have left. It’s bit like the magic spell has been broken.

In one word: Althea!

What title would you give Althea?

While trying to come up with a title for this post I ran through a number of ideas but all seemed to fall short and not capture the right feeling.  So I have left it ‘Althea’, similar to other famous individuals who only need one name: Madonna, Elvis, Houdini, Sting…  Althea has most certainly been Maho Bay Camp’s biggest celebrity!  Add her regal air, a combination of aloof and inviting which created an ever-growing fan base every season.

Where I always found Althea: on the boardwalk from the dining pavilion to the store.
Where I always found Althea: on the boardwalk from the dining pavilion to the store.

While there were other lovable cats at Maho, Althea has always been my favorite.  Perhaps it is because my family had a cat that looked nearly identical to Althea, a calico female we named Checkers. Checkers and Althea even have very similar personalities / temperaments. (Somewhere packed away in a box I have a photo of her and will have to scan it and post it here for a side by side comparison.)  Every year that I visited Maho Bay Camp I would look for Althea and my vacation would not be complete without seeing her.

In years past I remember seeing Althea up near the Dining Pavilion where a water bowl was placed for the Maho cats. While feeding the cats in the pavilion was discouraged, it was hard to resist Althea’s occasional visit to my table for a bit of bacon. Not the healthiest cat treat, but it is what she liked. Does anyone else remember seeing her hurry across the area where the line formed? She would be quick in getting from one side to the other, trying to avoid all the feet of the many guests, and I guess she has a hip problem because her run was more of an elegant sashay. Very different from other cats.

Below are two recent photos of Althea, the first taken in 2013 and second taken almost two years prior in 2011.

A popular place to find Althea, she looks like she had had numerous people stop to pet her!
A popular place to find Althea, she looks like she had had numerous people stop to pet her!
This was a popular place to find Althea, since I had taken a similar photo two years prior!
This was a popular place to find Althea, since I had taken a similar photo two years prior!

Althea liked to spend some time in the high traffic areas and boardwalks of camp and would even lay down in the middle of a step on a flight of stairs, often right at the top coming up from the A-Section before you reach the Registration Desk. She was completely confident that no one would accidentally step on her!  This last seaon I was told the story of an evacuation of Maho for a tropical storm or low level hurricane.  After everyone was gone and the wind and rain were picking up, the resident manager made his last rounds of camp before taking shelter himself.  He saw Althea in an alcove next to the store (in a spot staff called “the Secret”, which was a recessed storage doorway), sitting up with her head held high and Althea appeared as though she was going to stoically wait out the storm right there. Of course she was at camp and fine when everyone returned.  With that confidence and attitude I came to see her as Maho’s “Manager Incognito”. Secretly Althea ran the place….

At various times there has been some discussion regarding when Althea arrived and how old she is. Last year I got the credible answer from Joe Brown, a friend and former staff member at Maho Bay Camp:

I’ll clear this up. I worked at Maho from 1997-2008. Althea showed up feral to my apartment (Dan-o’s too) right after hurricane Georges in 1998 – so she is at least 15 years old. We lived above the store and took her in as our own. We had no idea where she came from, but she was adorable and wouldn’t stop meowing at our door. Danny took primary responsibility for her and had to leave island in 2000. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take her to NY and thought it would be best to leave her in the care of staff and guests. He loved her very much and hated to leave her. Danny passed away in 2006 at the young age of 35.  She has had a great life at Maho. By the way, we named her after the Grateful Dead song Althea.

Althea taking a comfortable nap after eating her fill of tuna fish!
Althea taking a comfortable nap after eating her fill of tuna fish!
Althea was tempted to sleep on my papers in order to be sure I gave her my undivided attention!
Althea was tempted to sleep on my papers in order to be sure I gave her my undivided attention!

She did have a great life at Maho Bay Camp! Guests, staff and four-hour workers alike loved her, fed her and took care of her whenever she needed it. The Animal Care Center on St. John knows her well enough that I could pick up medicine for her without bringing her in (she had previously run away during a vet visit and it took weeks for Althea to return to Maho Bay Camp.)  Meanwhile she had the run of the property and could be as social or introverted or independent as she wished. When Maho closed everyone felt Althea needed to stay on island because she would not survive a flight to the States. Understandable since she disliked even the short car ride to the vet!  Actually I was worried that she might not even survive the closing of Maho. I am rather impressed that she did not return to Maho Bay Camp (as best I know.) I had anticipated her returning a number of times before she settled into a new home.

The day Maho Bay Camp closed, May 16th, someone from Coral Bay did adopt her but apparently it didn’t work out. A month later Althea showed up near Calabash Boom (the area just before Miss Lucy’s restaurant) at the apartment of Marty, a former employee of Maho Bay Camp. She could not have been luckier to find anyone, since Marty not only knew her and that she was supposed to be living in Coral Bay, but he also has a soft spot for Althea. He looked after her until she could find a permanent home, which turned out to be a former chef from Maho Bay Camp. Crispin had left St. John when Maho closed and by a twist of fate returned a few months later to work at Asolare in Cruz Bay. Crispin has now adopted Althea and I am guessing that she is eating better than I am!!

One thing is for sure, Althea is a fighter and a survivor! So… Titles for Althea??

Althea keeping an eye on things!
Althea keeping an eye on things!