Someone wise once said, ‘Cats are like potato chips, you can’t just stop at one.’
If there are two things I am very sure of in my almost-50 year life, it is that I like chips. And I like cats.
Long time readers of my blog know so much about my allergies and at least two of my cats. But a lot more of them have entered (and gone) from the picture since I lost the ability to write with joy and humor about my day-to-day six years ago, and almost all of my blog community has vanished into thin air too. When I revisit old posts and read the comment section now, I feel so happy to remember that I had so many friends here once, and I miss them and their familiarity with my idiosyncrasies, and all the conversations we got going.
I am told (and I agree) we should greet each day with enthusiasm and positivity by saying hello to everything we see, it helps to set the tone for the day. I may not always articulate it, but my heart always does send a greeting to the sun, the sky, the sunbirds that visit my courtyard, the plants in my house, each cat that graces us with its presence.
Today I met Fuzzy first, petting his soft head. He stands by the fridge patiently until he is served a tiny saucer of cold milk, which he sometimes finishes, sometimes not. Having been around the longest means he has had to get used to an increasing number of feline presences in the house, first Minnie, then Mowgli, and now Jimmy Choo. Being the only long-haired cat in the house (a little on the threadbare side now) makes him the only recipient of brushing and bathing (the others take care of their own grooming.) He is also the only one who will be hungry and there will be a bowl of kibbles at hand but he won’t touch it. However, he will happily polish off the entire bowl if I pick up a kibble at a time and let him snatch it from my fingers. Once he is satiated, he will look disdainfully at my proffered kibble and slowly back off as if to say ‘get the f*** away from me hooman’. Fuzzy likes to sleep in a corner of the kitchen and is probably very proud of the fact that he has never used a litterbox in his entire life. A few years ago, a vet told us he had only 4-5 months to live, diagnosing him with kidney failure after his pee puddles started to show some blood. I should probably go tell that vet Fuzzy is still living his best life, munching the occasional spaghetti and watermelon, french fries and little pieces of uncooked zucchini, still eating raw chicken like his life depends on it, with gusto and entirely without assistance.
Jimmy Choo gets the most love nowadays, as he is the most unfortunate of the lot. The man who guards our gate drew my attention to him earlier this year, telling me I should take him under my wing or he would surely die on the streets. One look at the little guy was enough to indicate he had some serious issues with his back legs. He could only get around by dragging his whole body using just the strength of his front ones.
I am now familiar with the feeling that comes over me just before I adopt a cat. Perhaps this is what divine guidance feels like, I don’t know. I really don’t understand this mixture of resignation and responsibility, but I knew in my heart this beautiful black and grey tabby could do with some love and care. I know there is always a choice to be made, but often if feels like the choice isn’t really available to me. Like the ‘me’ drops away and Spirit takes over. And it seems Spirit doesn’t want me to be a normal person who gets to travel with abandon or have nice furniture.
It was evident that the cat had a misaligned spine, either from birth or perhaps due to some injury. An x-ray confirmed this, and the vet said chances were he could very likely recover his mobility if he received some care. How fortuitous for this little cat to have found people like us, as Amu and I proceeded to administer lots of physiotherapy, soft food, cuddles and love. By the end of a month he was back on all fours, his personality swung from pathetic to playful, and we laughed with delight when he began to dash about with the zoomies, something we never could have imagined when we found him.
He still has issues though as he is not a normal cat, unable to use a litterbox, which means there is a lot of cleaning up to do after him. So far Jimmy has been treated for a series of afflictions which he is prone to because of his situation in life, the latest thing to strike him down being the most horrifying to witness (I cannot bring myself to go into the details as I am trying to erase the memory of it as quickly as possible.)
But I love him and I love seeing his cute little burger-face (his nickname) every day. He has brought with him plenty of distress but a lot more joy. And he welcomes and receives my morning affections happily, unlike Minnie and Mowgli who quickly turn predictably vicious when they’ve had enough. Jimmy seems incapable of snarls, and always keeps his claws retracted. I love watching him sitting quietly in the dappled sunlight under the tree, looking up at the sunbirds hopping around on the branches and the butterflies flitting by.
Minnie being a nocturnal cat sleeps all day in various locations around the house but will show up at my bedside at night, meowing for attention. She has a way of looking deeply and meaningfully into my soul with her blue eyes almost next to my face. Her sweet spots for being scratched are her cheeks and her chin, but the sweetest spot is the one right above her tail. I think she doesn’t know what to do with herself when I scratch that and will headbutt anything that’s close enough. A very vocal cat, she will even talk to me while fast asleep. I love playing with her, and she enjoys the interaction too, but things can get painful very quickly when her bunny kicks turn violent and her playfulness brings on her teeth and claws. I still let her grab my arm and have some fun with it for five seconds though, but heaven help the vet if she ever needs any kind of treatment.
Minnie is a very dangerous cat indeed, and yet the only one who gets to sleep next to my pillow. I call her my snow bear and I know she secretly adores it when I smother her with my love, picking her up and flinging her over my shoulder for a little stroll around the house. Huz only pets her tentatively on the head when she lolls around seductively on the floor inviting a belly rub, but sadly for her, her cuteness doesn’t fool him much.
Perhaps it is Mowgli’s response to my morning greeting which I find the cutest. She has a way of winding about my feet, stepping on them as I stroke her head and back, rubbing against my leg as her tail twines around in ownership. She is just as vocal as Minnie and will talk to me endlessly if I speak to her. Mowgli is blind in one eye, and I think that’s what makes her movements more abrupt, almost edgy, and I approach her slowly and gently so she doesn’t get spooked. She is the most intelligent cat in the world I think. There are so many things she does that the other cats can neither do, nor display the desire to. She will come running from wherever she is if she hears the tv being switched on , and will watch whatever I’m watching with avid and unwavering interest, especially if there are fellow animals on the screen. Mowgli has very short hair so I think that makes her the most sensitive to cooler temperatures, and she is the only cat who will purposefully climb onto a warm lap and snuggle in cozily. She can open doors by jumping up and putting her weight on the handle till she manages to turn it down, one trick that just doesn’t get old. It is astounding to me that she figured it out.
This post was meant to be an introduction to the cats that co-habit the bubble, but I haven’t even mentioned the ones that got adopted (Mano) or abandoned (Emmet, Molly and the Scruffies) or the ones that crossed the rainbow bridge (Georgie and Grey) It has been very difficult to shortlist a few pics from amongst the hundreds in my collection, but I must figure out a good way to showcase more of them here. They’re my legacy after all… After Amu of course! 😉