In ‘the pains of rearing pets part one’ I mentioned how much I love pets… I always wanted to have an animal I could call my own, but that didn’t happen until I was thirteen. One of my mom’s friends had a female cat that had recently given birth and since she knew how much we desired to have one of our own, she sent my mom to bring us one of the kittens when she went over to her place.
The instant we saw my mom walk in, with a carrier in her hands, we instinctively surmised what she was carrying; she had brought us a kitten; our very own pet. Excitedly, we pounced on her, anxious to get the little moggie out. When we opened the carrier he was hesitant; he didn’t want to come out. He retreated to the back and when my sister tried to reach for him he dashed out, seeking refuge behind the nearest couch. We understood he was scared, so we gave him time.
In the meantime we prepared his bed, his litter box and poured milk in his bowl. I guess the aroma of milk lured him out because he came out to drink. His steps were unsteady at first; I imagined he was trying to gauge his surroundings. We stood still, afraid that any sudden move would make him go back into hiding. It worked perfectly. He walked towards his bowl, gaining momentum with each step. Finally he got to it, and without further ado he extended his tiny tongue out, lapping up the milk with maximum elegance. He appeared unperturbed by our excited gazes.
When he was drinking to his fill, we took time to study his features: his fur was mainly white with some grey stripes on his back, which extended from his forehead to his tail. He was beautiful. Soon after he was done drinking, he sat on his hind limbs, and embarked on grooming himself. He would lick his front paws with his rough tongue then use them alternatingly to clean his face. When he was satisfied his face was clean he went on to clean the rest of his body. We were fascinated by him. My sisters and I hadn’t picked out a name for him yet, so we unanimously settled for kitty.
Comfortable that he was acclimatizing to his new home, we let him be. Later when we were all sitted in the living room, he found his way to my small sister’s laps. She was ecstatic. Gently she stroked his back and he seemed to love every bit of it.
We had memorable moments with him: when packing up for school he would playfully tuck himself in our bags. At one time I vividly recall how my unsuspecting big siz came so close to carrying him to school, until- thankfully- she realized her bag felt abnormally heavy. She looked inside the bag, only to find him curled in there. She was flattered. Tenderly, she lifted him up and held him close to her chest in one arm, stroking her with the other.
He was playful just as one would expect, and when he was slightly over a year old, he started staying out late. At times he would come back home in the morning. We assumed he was out wooing his female acquaintances. At about the same time he disappeared for a few days. At first we weren’t too apprehensive because we thought he would come back later as he had been doing for the past few months; but to our consternation he didn’t show up. The first day went by; each second dragging by…the angst only aggravated the situation. After two days we freaked out. It wasn’t like him to stay out for more than a night. We didn’t know where to start looking… we were distraught.
My sisters and I agreed to conduct a neighbourhood search. We walked around the houses calling out, “Kitty”, all to no avail. After a relatively long time doing rounds, we were almost giving up when after calling out his name we heard a familiar “Meow”… we traced his purrs to a nearby house.
Just to confirm it was him indeed, we called out his name and his familiar “meow” went up in the air again. We didn’t need any more proof; our neighbours had unmistakably kidnapped our kitty. Invigorated, we knocked on their door and the instant it flung open, kitty dashed out. We were furious at them for abducting our feline, but then the joy of finding him eclipsed the fury.
Apparently, he went straight to the house.
We took turns to hug him… kitty looked elated; when I held him he nuzzled my chin. I could tell he had missed home. When the excitement had cooled down, we got down to analyzing what would have led our neighbours to commit such an odious act. We didn’t know much about them, as they had moved in recently, and the two kids in question were both under six. The older girl looked five and the younger boy looked three… we easily surmised they had done it with their parents’ help; but for the sake of maintaining cordial relations with our neighbours we let that one slide; but if they kidnapped him again, we would retaliate…that we vowed.
I don’t know if that incident affected him, because his nights out reduced remarkably.
A few months later, when my baby siz and I were in boarding school, my mom brought us some egregious news on visiting day. We were sitted with her and our dad catching up on what had been happening for the past month and a half that we’d been away from each other. It is then that my mom’s face turned somber as she announced, “Kitty died!”
I took a few minutes to assimilate the news, before breaking into a sob… “Kitty died?” I asked, disbelief written all over my face. My baby siz seemed more affected by the poignant news than I was. In tears, we recounted some of the moments we’d shared with him.
Then, I realized I hadn’t spent so much time with him as my sisters and I were in school most of the time. When we went home for the holidays we would find he had grown bigger; it was evident as his tail appeared longer and fuller every time we closed school. He even felt heavier. Mom had been feeding him well…