Monday, 22 September 2014

The Acquired Ginger Cat

We have acquired a cat...sort of.  He's a ginger and white cat, currently nameless unless you consider 'Cat' a name.  Surprisingly, Hubster has decided he deserves our love and attention.  Well, some of it anyway.  You see, we aren't really cat lovers.  And yet this feline has managed to weedle himself into our lives - for about an hour or so each night.

One of the cats on this compound breeds like nobody's business, and the little ginger squawker belonged to her.  Obviously he figured out fairly early on in his little kitten life that his survival was up to himself so he began roaming the fringes of people-dom in search of food, and possibly love and affection, at a very young age.

He was a spindly looking, loudly meowing bludging kitten.  Each night it would sidle shakily up beside our chairs as we sat moon bathing out by the pool.  Most nights it would sit, just far enough away not to be annoying, but close enough to be obvious.  I'm guessing it presumed we had food.  Most nights it was sadly mistaken - we only had coffee!  Initially the kitten was ignored or chased away.  But he was a persistent little bugger and one night he scored some of Hubster's left over KFC.  Well, then we couldn't get rid of him, could we!  And he started following us home.

So, one thing led to another and soon he was being fed, once a day only, early in evening, out on the front step.  I refuse to feed the cat in the apartment.  He is going to stay a wild cat because we travel a lot and he still needs to know how to hunt and live rough.  But at least he'll be in slightly better nick than the other wild cats hanging about.  That's my theory anyway.

He was a right Scary Mary initially.  Cautious and jittery.  He had this habit of clawing at the ground, the door mat, the front step, the tiles - anything at all, constantly, with his rather giant paws.  I found it quite unnerving.  It reminded me of fingernails on a chalk board and I half expected to hear a terrible screeching sound coming from the ground upon which he always clawed.

The cat soon got quite comfortable around our front step.  Eventually we could reach out and pat him without him running into nearby shrubbery before skulking his way back to the food.  He gets company at each meal.  Ours.  As I told Hubster, I have no intention of feeding every other cat in the compound - just this one.  So we sit on the front door step with him.  Initially it was to keep the other bludging cats away.  Now we've discovered it's quite nice to just sit and chill on the front step after a day at work.  If we had a beer in hand as well it would make for a near perfect evening ritual!

We told a friend about our semi-adopted cat.  She loves cats and gave us a whole bunch of pet food her newest addition won't eat.  And a cat tower.  Introducing the kitten to the cat tower was a bit of fun.  He'd walk, Scary Mary fashion in the door, following the smell of cat biscuits he was being teased with.  H'e'd investigate the tower, sniffing, cautiously, slowing sticking his head into the bottom house then jerking his body out,  and turning tail, slip sliding on the floor tiles and flying full tilt out the door because something had frightened him.

That was the first week.  By the second week he was entertaining us by flying full tilt in the door when we opened it, and leaping at pace to the top rung to fight with the balls of fluff hanging around up there.  Then he'd leap off, flying back out the door, skidding on the tiles as he went like an out of control ice skater.  Every now and then he'd smack into the couch mid skid.  He'd wander around outside composing himself.  Shaking his head.  Mewling.   Then he'd come flying back in and do it all again.

A few weeks after Cat made us decide that ours was a nice place for him to visit, I had to seek the expertise of a pet center because of the bites I was getting all over my legs.  I thought they were fleas from the cat.  I was wrong.  Apparently there are no fleas in Riyadh - it's the wrong weather for them.  So I came home with cat shampoo for lice and instructions on how to get said kitten into a bucket of water.  He didn't really enjoy that experience and, once he could extricate himself from my grasp, he disappeared under the couch to hide.  We left him there for a while but he's an outdoor cat, so out he goes, just like Fred Flintstone and his cat, and just like Fred's cat, he's not happy with that plan.

One night, about a week after we accepted that Cat had officially been semi-adopted, he didn't turn up.  I presumed he'd been fed by someone else and was hanging around someone else's door getting a better deal.  When he didn't turn up the next night either, the thought that cats are fickle beings did cross my mind.  Come the third night, Hubster thought the kitten may have been beaten up by one of the Toms that like to rule our compound - well in cat world they rule.  Apparently there had been an almighty cat scrap out by the B-B-Q the night of the Italian Cook Up and, being a wild cat looking for food, our Cat had been attracted to the barbecued chicken along with every other feline in the neighborhood  When Cat didn't turn up the next night either Hubster announced that Cat was probably dead.  He's very matter of fact like that.

The following night there was a commotion at our doorstep.  Seriously, it sounded as though some huge animal was literally throwing itself at our door.  Banging and knocking and screeching.  I actually thought it was Big Tom come to demand some attention.  When I opened the door Cat came bolting through and disappeared under the couch.    Hubster and I looked at each other.  I didn't think a kitten that small could make so much noise at our door.  Apparently cat was not happy under the couch and spent the next hour or so restlessly trying to find some other corner to curl up and hide in.  He looked a lot worse for wear, too.  Obviously, he'd had a rough few days and I think he had been taken to by a bigger cat, but we couldn't get close enough for a thorough investigation.  He eventually settled in a nook on top of the couch covered by the heavy drapes.  We left him there for the night and the next morning, he hadn't moved an inch.  To date, that is the only night he has spent indoors.

Being semi-responsible cat adopters we did wonder how we were going to continue care for Cat when we went away over Ramadan.  After all, we are less than complimentary about other cat feeders who abandon cats when holidays send expats fleeing from the country.  We didn't want to be one of those kinds of semi-adoptive expats.  So, we employed security to help out.  With instructions, a key to the apartment and plenty of food, one of our security blokes would visit each night and sit on the steps with the cat.  He loved it.  It was his time out.  Him and Cat bonded quite nicely for a month.  He was surprised how easy it was to look after Cat.  Cat grew a lot in that month!

Our next move is to get Cat fixed.
We don't really want him contributing to the compound cat population.
And I don't intend to feed additional offspring.

Lana, who Hubster has dubbed The Crazy Cat Lady, is happy to come to the compound and talk to the manager about her voluntary role as Riyadh's Cat Ambassador.  Our neighbor, who has also adopted a wild kitten, went to visit Lana and returned with a fountain of information on her activities.  You can find out more here, on Open Paws website.   Lana said she would visit and deal with any cats provided management is happy to have her.  I'm recommending management say yes....but I'm not holding my breath there will be an immediate follow through.  The health and breeding capacity of city cats, or any animals for that matter, isn't really up the 'This Is Important' ladder for peeps in this country.  So I have Lana's number and will be giving her a call.  Getting Cat to co-operate with my plan might prove somewhat interesting.

Ka Kite,

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