Continued from March 2, 2010
Okay, so here I was now, with three cats. Gabriel, Simba, and Eloise. More cats than I had ever had at any one point in my life, that I could remember.
Towards the end of summer in Taiwan, there is a holiday called “Mid-Autumn Festival” or “Moon Festival”. It’s one of those ‘national’ holidays that, if it falls on a work day, you are required to make up the time at school another day. Easier said than done… but I digress.
About three years ago, on the evening of Moon Festival, I was still living on Weimin Street in Tainan. A beautiful house with four floors, a full roof top, half covered over, half open to the skies above, so many rooms that I had a hard time keeping track of them. It also had a carport, but I never used it for a car. Having a car in Taiwan is, to put it simply, INSANE! A scooter, although probably more dangerous, is better.
One of my neighbours, whom I rarely ever saw, and spoke to even less (language, of course), came home from a day in Tainan county. I was watching T.V., while my friend Ian and a friend of his, were barbequing, because that is what you do on Moon Festival. Our neighbour returned from her trip, and when she stopped the scooter, a kitten fell out from INSIDE the front of the scooter! Ian brought this poor little shivering, scared, dirty little ball of fluff, dropped it on my lap and asked where the toolbox was. Apparently, our neighbour had driven for over an hour, and every time she stopped, she could hear a cat meow, but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.
Ian and his friend ended up taking apart the neighbour’s scooter, and lo and behold, inside the front of the scooter, was another kitten. I can only imagine that she had parked the scooter wherever she was, the kittens crawled up inside, and then hung on for dear life. Not realizing that they’d be going on an hour trip to the ‘big city’.
The next thing I know, there’s another little kitten, sitting in my lap. With her, Arabela as she was to be called, I couldn’t tell if she was dirty or not. She was completely black. She only has about 5 or 6 little white hairs on her chest and tummy. I call her my little black panther. She kind of meows like I would assume a panther to sound, since I’ve never seen a panther. Actually, she sounds more like a Siamese cat. Anyhow, because of their age and relative size, I kind of figured that they were related. I decided that on the first day I could take the kittens to the vet, I was going to see if someone else would adopt them. After all, I already 3 cats, 2 more would have been crazy.
This all happened on a Friday night. By Monday morning, I was now attached to these two little sweethearts. They were playful, cleaned up, looked and seemed fairly healthy, and were so small. How could I give them up. They were small, so how much trouble, really, would 2 more kittens be? The other cats didn’t seem to mind too much, except for Gabriel who was now feeling like I was deserting him. He was number 1. Then Simba… then Eloise… now 2 more rugrats? How much can one cat take!?
Everyone began getting along. Eloise seemed to take over the motherly role to raise these two. The boys kind of kept their distance, and everyone was happy. Gabriel even decided to stop hissing at them, I guess once he realized that they were staying.
Now, Arabela and Eloise are mortal enemies. They find ways to terrorize each other. Cornelia only wants to eat, eat, eat. She is so fat. She will not eat dry food at all. It’s beneath I guess. Oh, she will eat it, and then throw up somewhere where I’m sure to step in it if I’m not careful. Her way of telling me that she wants “WHISKAS”.
Well, a couple of years go by. Things seem to be going fine. I start working at a new school. One of my students, knowing that I have 5 cats, because I like to show off my kids to my kids, asked me, I figured in a joking way, if I wanted a kitten. I thanked her a lot, but politely refused. She kind of looked sad and told me that if they can’t find a home for the kittens, her mom was going to take the kittens to the vet…
Again, that’s all I needed to hear. I stopped her and said, “Okay, but ONLY 1. It has to be a boy!” I asked what colour the kittens were. She started to tell me about one or two of them, and then she mentioned that one was orange and white. PERFECT, I said. That’s the one. That is a boy. She didn’t understand how I knew, but for those that don’t, all orange and white cats are boys. If, by some freak of nature an orange and white cat is a female, she is unable to have kittens. Same as tortoise shells (three colour cats). They are always female. However, should a male ever be born, it is not able to be a daddy.
So, about a month later, I finally got my new arrival. She had brought the little one in a box to the school. There were a bunch of holes punched in the box, and the box was sitting OUTSIDE, because the manager of the school was afraid of cats. CATS, this was a little kitten. I opened the box, and here was this scared little kitten, about a month old, big golden eyes, looking at me. I picked him up, and he clawed into me for dear life. I whispered in his ear, tried to calm him down, put him back in the box, and took him home after class.
From that point on, once I guess he realized that my home was better than whatever he had before, he calmed down. He never left my side. Wherever around the house I went, he was right at my heels. He slept with me, sat with me while I worked, and now, is the most affectionate, loving cat, I have ever had.
Years ago, I did have another cat, Mhoram. I had him for 19 years! About a month before coming to Taiwan in 2002, I had to have him put down. He was extremely old (133 in human years), and was starting to have health problems. I cried and cried every night for the next month, and then again after coming to Taiwan. At that point, he had been with me 1/2 of MY LIFE. The funny thing is, I’ve compared the ONE picture of Mhoram I have to pictures of Ignatius. The resemblance is almost scary. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were the same cat. Colouring, markings, attitude… almost identical.
There is a video on my Facebook account of Ignatius giving me kisses. He does this every day. Although, he is now, not so much a kitten. Last week I came home around noon after finishing my kindergarten class. I walked in on 5 cats (Eloise, Gabriel, Simba, Cornelia, and Arabela) sitting in around looking at one spot very furtively. I looked over, and here was Ignatius with a bird in his mouth. He dropped the bird, looked at me, blinked his eyes, and I could hear him purring. My baby kitten was now a cat. He had proven himself a hunter to the others. NONE of the others, to my knowledge, have ever caught a bird. Sure, Gabriel used to catch and eat butterflies, but not a bird.
Ignatius now struts around the house like he’s the head honcho. Even Gabriel kind of ‘respects’ him now. They used to always get along, as they do now, but it was more like a big brother teaching little brother how to be a cat. Well now, it’s more like equals. Funny to see the interaction.
Cats are amazing creatures. Having had cats in my life for as long as I can remember, I still maintain, and probably more so now, that cats are more like kids. They have their own personalities, their own way of interacting, their likes and dislikes, how they want to be treated, and it’s up to me to know what each wants. I would never, ever, give up any of these kids for anything. When and if I ever come back to Canada, they are coming with me. They’ve all had their shots, they’re indoor cats, they are like a family to each other, and to me.
I also have an album on Facebook entitled MY BABIES. There are about 180 pictures of these cats. I have hundreds more, just not enough time to upload them all.