My husband emailed me, notifying me that there was an abandoned kitten on the construction site, he considered bringing it home. The site is overrun by massive construction trucks and I knew that the little one had no chance of survival. I said, “bring it home, I will love it”. Besides, now that we knew about him, we could not leave him there. Turns out, a colleague gave instructions for it to be dumped off site (near the road and drain) to fend for itself. Two weeks old or so, fend for itself? Ugh. When he was retrieved by my husband, he was mewling pitifully near a drain. He would not have survived. So home, he came.
Bear in mind that our eldest boy Leo (1½ years old) was rescued from a manhole. He looked at his rescuers and darted off to return two days later. The husband and two children had a meeting outside (excluding the Dragon, read me here for Dragon), debating on his next meal. In my defense, let me say that we had 2 beautiful Labradors, mother and son, Chelsea and Lucky. Chelsea had passed at 16 of old age. She tried to wait for me to return from work but I was stuck in traffic and also stopped for fruit along the way. Lucky had separation anxiety and developed cancer. We made the painful decision to say goodbye to him and even now, the pain of saying goodbye has not abated. So no, I did not want any more children. Long story short, we had nothing for him to eat besides chicken curry. I rinsed down a portion of breast and mashed it which rice, which he devoured. The next day, thanks to Standard Bank’s Mastercard, he had his kitty milk which helped him flourish to his now glorious self.
Obviously realising life in the Ramlal household was a good one, I learned from Leo’s eating patterns that he had a secret, he had obviously been sharing his dry chunks with someone. That someone turned out to be a delightful kitten, who was terribly scared and very skittish around people. Husband was aghast at his behaviour until we reasoned that his fear must have been caused by someone who obviously hurt him. Remember the kids animated movie Kung Fu Panda? Snosey (1year old), as he is now called, has all the characteristics and strutting confidence of that panda. Independence personified, he only relents to converse with me at 5.30am when he asks his “Mom” for his feed. Yes, he says “Mom”.
Just as I thought my infant mothering days were over, along came black/white/grey fur ball Jag, named by my son Owen, we think after the car advert which depicted the speed of the car, liked to that of the jaguar.
Jag on the other hand, seems to crave the dry bread that was tossed at him since birth. His formula is tolerated, just barely. Anything else is spit up and this is quite worrying as, as young as he is, his ribs can be felt. His first night home brought back memories of night feedings. A 2.30am feed was welcomed by him. He needed more to be swaddled and I did exactly that. Took out a 21 year old Glodina napkin (remember them – the best then that money could buy?) and swaddled him. Lay him down in a little bread basket bed and tapped him until he fell asleep.
The second night, he progressed to Leo’s bed, which was fashioned by 21 year old, Jade’s baby mint bath with matching baby blanket. Placed at the side of my bed, I watched him nod off, walk up, toddle around and look at me. Exactly like the gremlin, glassy eyed, he looked at me imploring me to understand. Back to bed he went, tucked up warmly, I had my palm over his back, the warm must have been comforting because he fell nodded off.
On his third night home and a Sunday, (bear in mind that Monday is work), I expected a feeding which was done at 3.am. Fed and fuelled, he was ready to play. I debated mentally to forgo the next hour and a half of sleep and start my week super early by using that time to treat my colleagues to chillie bites. Thought again and sleep won out. Swaddled him again and yes, I did what every parent does at some stage, tucked him in the crook of my arm and brought him to bed. He stared at me until I pretended to sleep, not sure who fell asleep first. When I woke, his little paw stuck out the napkin, Superman style whilst he slept on. True to form, as children do, he was up the moment, I left the bed.
Jag was welcomed warmly into the household, more so by son Owen , who desperately wanted a pet of his own to love. He rationalises it in many ways. Jade my daughter, loved him on site, she calls him, her little gremlin. The husband was happy to have another companion, someone who would talk to him whilst he indulged in the garden, in his fifty thousandth smoke break (not really, I just get waspish sometimes…okay, a lot!). Most importantly, we were all justifiably apprehensive over Jag’s reception from the two cats. Leo strutted in, took in the situation, and whilst he is not actually sulking, he is barely on speaking terms with us. He has allowed us to caress his fur and tolerated our explanations. On weekends, when I am home, he generally takes his forty winks on my bed . Leo sniffed the bedding, discovered that his haven has been infiltrated and hopped off. I can’t help feeling brushed off. He has not yet looked at me with betrayal in his eyes, so that has given me hope for the days ahead. Snosey has had several eye to eye encounters but seems fascinated yet a little fearful of this new creature.
My lounge is inhabited by two cockatiels, Miss Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, keen fans of Bollywood movies and north Indian music. They are also our alarms when there is a visitor at the gate, or when the cats sneak out, much to the cats chagrin. It’s a full, chore driven household, yet none of the pets are regretted. I am convinced the Leo’s arrival was from a higher calling. Positive that Lucky returned as is evident by some of Leo’s mannerisms and deep understanding of the family dynamics. Snosey on the other hand was God sent for me, he filled a void and will remain always, a precious sentinel. Jag came almost immediately after I was robbed at gunpoint. Their arrivals have brought immense joy and light to the household. Gerald Durrell’s, My Family and other Animals, a book I quite enjoyed in my secondary school, mirrors many aspects similar to my lifestyle.
I have learned that there is pain in saying farewell to pets. Was I prepared to dedicate 15 years or so of my life again? I have been warned about the expenses that accompany pets. Did I have the financial budget for it? No. To be honest, the kids agreed to go without if necessary but the pets would not be wanting for anything. We have taken in pets when others wouldn’t feed them. My best conversations are with the neighbour’s pitbull Jock, who receives 2 biscuits every morning before I leave for work. Junior the Dalmation is another favourite.
If I did not relent in my decision and welcome more fur babies, then would I not be selfish, worrying and fearing for my/our pain? After all, these babies NEEDED us. They do not have voices. In adopting and providing, loving secure homes for them, in the giving that we do, it is in the receiving that we are enrichened.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God’s kindness:
Kindness in your face,
Kindness in your eyes,
Kindness in your smile” Mother Teresa