Wednesday, June 3, 2015

PETS | My nightly neighborhood gig

Shortly after leaving our gate last Friday night for an errand, an energetic little kitten appeared out of nowhere and came running toward me. It was the first time I saw him in the neighborhood and of course I was delighted.

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Full of spunk, this little kitty.

After a brief interaction with the little fella I went ahead. But when I came back from the convenience store he came running toward me again. It was like he wanted to play with me or something, so I gladly obliged.

Street children
He looks no more than a few weeks old and has this cute little mark on his nose area that looks like an imperfect mustache. I called him "Charlie" after the late Charlie Chaplin. I have no idea who or where his mother is but I am 100% sure about his father's identity. Aside from the black and white coat, it's this adorable, judgmental not-too-pleased-at-all look on his face that's very much the same as this adult stray's who appears every now and then and preys on whomever hapless feline is in heat.

stray cats 02
Dear Kitten, I know who your father is. That expression you have is a giveaway.

Just a few weeks prior, another kitten (though older than Charlie) also showed up out of nowhere. I really don't want to give them names because I'll only be attached to them but I had to call each and every cat something, if only to properly identify them. I simply referred to this one as "kuting ko" (my kitten). She was so skinny when I first met her but I'm happy to see her put on some weight ever since.

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The kitten was a bit wary of humans when I first met her.

I don't know but I seriously believe that word has gotten out in the local cat community about me. Kwittiegirl even says I'm quite famous with the local neighborhood cats. They sure have heard the news that there's this guy who comes out of his lair every single night to feed some kitties. Yes, I have this little nightly feeding program where anywhere from 2 to 7 felines show up.

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Just one of them nights.

Evolution of my gig
Aside from scavenging from people's trash at night, I don't know how else these cats get by. Even more than humans do, cats move me with pity but I always tell myself I can't save them all. Taking in even just one is already a commitment that entails quite the responsibility. I know, because after Kwittie Boy, and then Foreman, we adopted a wailing abandoned kitten we named Thordis. A year later we took in another crying kitten who found himself cornered outside our doorstep. That kitten was Little Boy.

Having four cats is no joke. That said, I really couldn't pluck any more strays out of the streets and bring them home. The least I could do was feed them, which I did on occasion.

That all started to change, however, when I began feeding this cat with black and brown fur. There was something wrong with her left eye, which she eventually lost. She's no kitten anymore but her growth was stunted. And because she's smaller than all the other cats, she was easily bullied when it came to scavenging. It was primarily leftovers from our cats that I gave her, which I thought was better than throwing them away (yes, our cats are a wasteful bunch).

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That's the one-eyed cat on the right. She started this whole gig of mine.

Eventually a few other cats would gather around every time I took out the trash. Different faces would show up each time but one-eyed kitty was consistently there. She would later learn to sneak under our gate and greet me at our doorstep at feeding time. She's also consistent at that. We simply refer to her as "pusa ko" (my cat).

As the number of cats grew and a few of them became "mainstays," leftovers were obviously no longer enough and now I buy extra cat food. It's just funny how most of them just appear out of nowhere one night and quickly become regular "customers."

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I call this one "Buntis" (pregnant) because she was pregnant when she first showed up. She has since given birth though I haven't seen any of her kittens.

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Such a sweet face, but don't be deceived because she has a mean streak towards other cats. So I called her "Maldita."

The news has spread
There was also this one time when I drove past our apartment because I remembered I needed something from 7-Eleven. As I was about to make a right turn at the corner I was horrified to see two kittens right in the middle of the street -- and an intersection at that! They were no more than a few weeks old.

I picked them up and placed them on the sidewalk. But before I could even open the car door they were already right behind me. I picked them up and placed them on the sidewalk again. Same thing happened; they quickly followed me. We repeated this drill several times before I put them somewhere farther, made a dash for the car, and drove off.

After our trip to the convenience store I was shocked to see the same two kittens again. They were still dangerously on the street but this time they were right in front of our house. How in the world were they able to track where I lived?! By any chance have they also heard of the news about this guy who comes out of his lair every single night to feed some kitties?

Anyway, we picked them up, cleaned their faces up a bit, and fed them. Then I put them back to the area where I first spotted them (but not on the street of course). Thankfully they no longer followed me back though I'm a bit worried because I haven't seen them again since.

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These two little kittens followed me home.

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"Open that can now, please?"

Tearful episodes
It really baffles me how these cats find me. One night just a few weeks ago, there was a kitten right outside our door. I brought her outside and tried checking if any of the adult females who showed up for that night's feeding session was her mother, but none of them was accepting of the poor baby. The skinny kitten wouldn't eat either but I kept her outside, hoping her mom finds her.

To my surprise, she was back at our doorstep the next morning. Okay, I thought, and gave her some milk and wet food, which she ate but didn't finish. I soon left for work and hoped her mother finds her. Unfortunately when I returned that evening she was already stiff and motionless, her milk and food still unfinished.

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I was deeply saddened when this poor thing died. I guess I met her a little too late.

I was overcome with sadness despite the fact that I've only known this kitten for less than 24 hours. If only I had met her sooner, she probably would have been saved.

It was the same familiar feeling I felt when another kitten, whom we took in and kept at our back area sometime last year, died. I used to feed her, too, but after she didn't show up for a couple of nights, we decided to take her in and nurse her back to health until we find someone willing to adopt her. We intended to make her "attractive" to potential adopters.

However, that moment never came to be. I was confined at the hospital for a few days then and when I was discharged, I came home to a lifeless kitty. Kwittiegirl said she must have "saved" me. We called her "Phee-Phee."

Carrying on
For now my nightly gig with the cats goes on. Yes, I may not be able to save them all but feeding them is probably the least that I can do. To see them come running at you every night, to pet and play with them, to watch them grow and put on a bit more weight, it brings me joy.

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To find cats excited to see you (even if it's because of the food) is pure joy.

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And so my gig continues.

I hope someone out there is willing to adopt any of these furballs because I'm already worried about how our feeding sessions are going to proceed once the rainy season kicks in.

Update:
Charlie also passed away. I found him lying motionless at our garage one night.

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