Durban - In a true rags to riches tale, Skabenga is living the kind of a charmed life (all nine of them) that most other cats can only dream of.
The cat has free rein at the five-star Oyster Box Hotel, and has a penchant for caviar, prawns and crayfish. He spends his days lounging by the poolside, enjoying the spectacular view of the Indian Ocean.
One of the hotel’s oldest residents, he wandered on to the property as a stray almost 10 years ago.
The story goes that guests thought he was the resident cat and started feeding him from their plates.
Skabenga’s appreciation for the finer things in life grew, and he decided to stay.
He also developed a taste for bling, and now owns several bejewelled collars.
He initially declined to be photographed by the Sunday Tribune, after being disturbed during an afternoon nap, at first sniffing disdainfully, but then gave in graciously when guests fussed over him.
While his age was unknown, his birthday was celebrated every October with a high tea, said Oyster Box spokeswoman Joanne Hayes.
“‘Skabenga’, which means ‘hooligan’ in Zulu, is quite fitting, because he has this naughty personality,” Hayes said.
“But he is such a hit with guests and staff. If something were to happen to him, it would affect us all.”
Skabenga also has his own Facebook page, and boasts 629 friends, who often post on his wall. In addition, general manager Wayne Coetzer has written a children’s storybook about him that is given to every child guest.
“He has his favourite couch where he naps, and he does daily inspection strolls around the hotel. He also has perfect timing, instinctively knowing every time the red carpet is rolled out,” Hayes said.
He first stalked the red carpet when the Cameroon soccer team arrived at the hotel during the World Cup.
He even staked a claim to the carpet when Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco arrived at the hotel.
“He loves the limelight, especially the bulbs flashing as his picture is taken,” she said.
Hayes was forced to admit Skabenga can be moody.
“If he is not feeling up to being petted, he will let you know.”