Friday, June 05, 2009

Cat Person

For a better part of my wee lifetime, I've always considered myself a Dog Person. I think I still am, yes. I miss Socks, my intelligent sheltie doggy who lived with us for all her 13 years. I still bore all my friends with the stories of how she can say grace (she will put her chin on your hand with the treat on it, and only eat it when you say 'Amen'), never letting her leash go taut (she was such a good walker), and plays ball without using her mouth, preferring to kick with her front legs with precision aim (she could even play with more than one human at a time, giving each human a fair turn at the ball).

Last year, we were adopted by a skinny pygmy cat from downstairs -- I was reminded of this post when someone left a comment just yesterday -- I should let everyone know how that's going shouldn't I!

Well, the little bugger didn't come back that often until she became very obviously pregnant -- shit, we all thought. I swear, she was so bony, nobody would have guessed she could bear any sort of viable offspring -- but she did. She had 3 snow-white kittens in the drain downstairs that we discovered purely by accident.

So we left them alone for the time being, providing Cat with food and water at our doorstep. We'd planned to sterilise Cat as soon as her kittens were big enough to loll around without her.

It was something like July, when obscenely heavy rains beat down and we thought Oh Crap. Checking on the kittens, we found Cat under the neighbour's MPV with one white ball in her jaws, and the others missing. Following the flow of water, rain still beating down on us, we found a female kitten at a junction where two drains emptied, four legs spread eagled clinging on to the cement walls. We fished her out, used an umbrella to roll the other kitten out from under the MPV, and took them up to our home. We couldn't find the third kitten.

So Cat and now two kittens lived at our doorstep in a big cardboard box turned onto its side for about two weeks before Cat decided to hitch them back downstairs to the same spot in the drain. Attempts at bringing the family back up were all in vain. Well, shit happened again when a heavy storm struck while the family was on the way to dinner one evening. Luckily we decided to turn back and check on the cats.

It happened again! Cat had the same male in her mouth, mewing desperately, while the other kitten was missing. As I brought the shivering male home to dry off, the parentals took to the drains in search of the female kitten. My father followed the length of the small drain about 50 meters down to the large canal that ran along the main road outside the estate, only to find the female kitten, barely 7 inches long at that time, clinging to the side of the storm drain, water gushing by, one bus stop down from my home!

My father got a large gash on his arm from climbing down that storm drain to fish her out.

The next three months, the kittens lived in our home in a doggy cage that we borrowed from a cat-carer we befriended. Cat was allowed daily visits of course, and later on, we sent her to be sterilised. When the kittens reach 4 months, they were sent for sterilisation too.

The white kittens turned colour -- the male remained white but with pale brown colouration on his ears, nose and tail, while the female developed grey stripe markings on her face, legs and tail, with dark grey ears. The male was very dim, and looked like a monkey. So we named him Monkey.

Monkey and Dirty at 4 weeks, trying to eat Cat's food.

Before the female turned colour, her nose developed a dirty splotch of black. So we called her Dirty Face.

That's the splotch that appeared something like 2 weeks.

Meet Dirty and Monkey at 3 months old:

...drinking out of the toilet bowl.

Dirty was very obviously the smarter one. And given her survival record, we decided she must be the fighter between the two, and that mummy Cat had to save Monkey both times because she must have known that he was dim.

So we had a lovely arrangement -- The Cats would hang out outside at night, and hang out inside in the day. And for a few months, this worked out fine. Until Monkey went missing.

Something must have happened, because ever since, Dirty never ventured out again, insisting on living as a fulltime housecat. This was very strange because she was always the restless one, hunting and exploring all night. One night she did spend the night outside, she returned with a wound on her back that developed into an abcess -- we had to take her to the vet to remedy that, the poor thing.

Cat was still nervous around us, even though we took care of her all this while, so she stayed outside. Returning to talk to Dirty at night, and at feeding time.

Just last month, she too, disappeared.

We don't know if people took her, and we can't explain that, given that she had a clipped ear.

So it's now just us and Dirty.

Haha, she looks so silly. She tweets, by the way! See how often she sleeps at twitter.com/dirty_face