For many tourists, a trip to Bermuda isn’t complete until they’ve sighted Flea, St George’s resident celebrity feline. Skittering from shop to shop, they ask, “Have you seen Flea?” until their queries are rewarded by an appearance by the big orange and white tabby.
“He is so well liked among the tourists,” said Belinda Tartaglia who runs her own gallery on Water Street. “He has repeat guests that stay at the St. George’s Club and go looking for him.
“One of the cruise ships actually tells their passengers about Flea so they can look for him.”
Six-year-old Flea hits all the hot spots each day, wandering from Ms Tartaglia’s art gallery to Vera P. Cards and finally to the Island Shop where he curls up in his purrsonal cat bed to nap.
During balmy summer evenings, he can be spotted on one of the island’s glass-bottom boats, gazing longingly at the fish.
“He’s the official town cat,” Ms Tartaglia added. “He has us all wrapped around his little paw. I tell the tourists he should be the next mayor.”
It’s not just the tourists who flock to see the orange tabby. He’s also popular with the local children who seek him out after school and on weekends.
Four-year-old fan Bailey Boyd visits Flea with her mom as often as she can.
“I like Flea,” Bailey said as she stroked his head. “He’s a happy cat and feels really soft.”
One of the perqs of the job for hard-working Flea is an open invitation to sample St George’s finest cuisine from restaurants that include Caf Gio and Tavern by the Sea.
Flea wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, however. When he was only a few days old, Suzanne Hollis found him and a sibling clinging to life, starved and “eaten alive by fleas” at the site of the old Club Med. His sibling didn’t make it, but Flea was nursed back to health.
“He was so small he used to fit in the palm of my hand!”
Four years ago, the Hollises brought home a rescue dog from the SPCA, and Flea said “Adios!” to the family, unwilling to share accommodations with a lesser species. The Hollis family continues to provide Flea with medical care; he returns home if he’s not feeling well. A few months ago, he was hospitalized with a bacterial infection, the consequence of too many raw shrimp handouts.
Ms Hollis describes her pet as “street smart” and “independent.” He’s also well-traveled, hopping into cars before people drive away from St George’s and ending up elsewhere on the island.
Ms Hollis added: “When we bring him back to St. George’s he is so excited to be home – back on his turf.”
Click here to track Flea’s antics online.
[LINK: Bermuda Sun]