In the book “Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life” by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins D.V.M. Esq., there are suggestions about getting a cat for the first time. Some may ask where one should be acquire a cat. Hodgkins mentioned either getting cats from a responsible breeder or from a friend whose cat had a litter, or a shelter. Each cat I have had has his or her own special story. Here are stories about some of the cats we’ve owed throughout the years.
Her name used to be “Goofy.” She was abused by her former owners, and was fearful of humans. Somehow she ended up at the humane society. My stepsister went to the society one day, looking for a dog. As she waited to see the dogs, she hung out in the cat house. As she sat in the cat house, a black and gray striped cat with large, green eyes jumped into her lap almost immediately. The society staff was surprised. She wouldn’t come to anyone and they were going to euthanize her the next day. My stepsister didn’t think twice. She brought her home. Kayah is almost 20 years old today. She looks almost exactly the same as she did when she first came home. Kayah is an example of what can happen if a cat is abused, or any animal for that matter. She has known me for the majority of those 20 years, yet she is only comfortable with a simple pat on the head. I have never been able to carry her. No one but my stepsister can carry her. She spends most of her days in my stepsister’s room, and never comes out. Know that if you adopt a formerly abused cat, he or she may never fully recover from a painful past.
Lala was a birthday present for my stepsister from a pet store. When my stepsister found a new apartment to live in, she was unable to take Lala with her. Instead, Lala lived with my mother, stepfather, younger siblings and I. My stepsister warned us when Lala came home that she was still too light to be fixed and to keep her inside. Though we tried to be careful, she took every opportunity to scramble past us when we opened the door, and rub herself on the lanai. I heard that young female cats do that to put their scent out to male cats as an invitation. Sure enough, Lala became pregnant. One day she got out again and my stepsister, who had come over at the time, said she heard the familiar yowl and groaned because she knew what just happened. Since Lala gave birth we have finally fixed her and for the last five years Lala has had little to no interest in going outside.
Linkin and Kasumi
Ever watch a cat go into labor at 1:30 in the morning? I woke up because Lala was meowing like crazy. She was with-kitten, making squatting motions, and crying in front of me. I immediately called my mother and found a box and towels. I called my stepsister, who was sleepy, but came over to comfort her cat. I called my mother, who said it was all right and to leave her alone because she already knows what to do. I watched as she cried and squatted and wandered around my room, and witnessed my very first birth. BLOOP. Number one came out mewing, and gooey. A few minutes later, BLOOP. Number two also came out meowing, and gooey. The process continued three more times. Lala, for some reason, started jogging around the room, dragging her baby, which was hanging on by the umbilical cord. When all five were born, Lala also hid in my makeshift dollhouse, and refused to come out for a little while. I tried researching cat pregnancy on official websites, only to find more articles on the importance of spaying and neutering. Online forums basically told me that the mother should know what to do. The main advice they offered was only to keep a warm, safe place for the mother and kittens with some fresh water, food and litter nearby. Of the five, two were given away, and one disappeared. It has been said young feline mothers can potentially kill their young, whether by accident or because they have defects. I can only assume that’s what happened to the one that was missing. I asked my mother to save one, Linkin, for me. The only one left to give away was Linkin’s sister. I nicknamed her “Lil Girl” so I wouldn’t get too attached. However, when we couldn’t find another home for her, she stayed with us. She was always the cutest one, but I felt I could only negotiate with my parents for one. Now she’s mine and her name is Kasumi.
I had lost my Sharpei, Lauai, and my Shiba Inu, Tsuki, at least five months apart from each other. My stepfather proclaimed we were not allowed “to bring anything else home with a mouth,” except for grandchildren. I had just recently subscribed to the Hawaiian Humane Society’s Facebook page and found out that pictures of new animals were being posted every once in awhile. Then, one day, I saw him. The society asked FB followers to name him. His right eye was gigantic, swollen and red. Honestly, I was appalled. But somehow, I was compelled to show my stepsister. Her heart swelled as large as his eye, and asked that I bring him home. It was then that the obsessive side of me kicked in. I called the society, I left a message. I called again a couple days later. I checked the Facebook page constantly. I mentioned the cat to numerous people at the society’s inaugural Paws for Patriots event.
Then one day, the little fellow appeared on the website, having recovered from his surgery, and now with only one eye. It happened during work, so I asked to spend lunch hour in town. The society could not guarantee that he would be there when I got off work. I drove straight to town, waited impatiently in line, asked for him by number. As I squeezed into the tiny cat house, I told one of the women in there that I wanted the one with one eye. She picked him up and gave him to me. He immediately panicked and clawed his way up and over my shoulder. I didn’t want him to fall, so I had to bend over as he started running down my back. The woman had to pry him off. He was bouncing off the walls when he came home, as if he had just consumed 10 cups of coffee, five jars of sugar and 20 energy drinks. He has been a happy, sweet little guy ever since.
Ever watch a horror movie? The ominous music plays as the unsuspecting main character ventures into a darkened room, unaware of the danger that lies ahead. My mother called me at work that day. Her co-workers found a small marmalade cat wandering around her workplace and asked if she should take him to the Hawaiian Humane Society. I wanted to find a home for him myself, so I told her to put him in my room. As I entered my room that evening, everything was quiet. In the darkness of the closet, I peered in, and saw the little one crouched behind a bag. As soon as he saw me, he fled, wedging himself between a bureau drawer and the wall. As I cocked my head to the right, he perched against the bureau, his head turned sideways. His pupils were dilated, like the black-oil-alien-possessed humans from the “X-Files.” Cue “Ave Satani.” It was on a Tuesday. I reached out to carry him. MISTAKE NUMBER 1. Hissing and spitting ensued. I left rather stunned and in pain. Even my stepsister, who is very good with animals, had to wash blood from her hands. My brother, stepsister and I tore apart my room trying to catch and carry him, to no avail. Day after day, it was “Hi, sweetie, how are y –HISSSSSSSS!!! Meow…SSSSS!” Those dark, empty eyes stare back at me from the abyss of my closet. Hodgkins said that a new kitten should be given a “safe” haven in the house where it knows it will be fine, and it will be comfortable. For Damien, it was the closet. Hodgkins did say that it’s natural for kittens to feel scared around humans. But a week later, we had a breakthrough. Cyclops ventured into my room to meet the new arrival. Before I knew it, Damien was coming out further from his hiding place. Damien finally stayed in one place long enough for me to snap a few photos, to help him get a home. He frequently played with Cy, our other cat, but it was hard for him to trust me. I’ve been told by a Game Warden volunteer on base that it will definitely be a long road, but am happy to report that we’ve finally found a home for him.
Whatever your preference of cat, wherever you get this cat, my only advice is to make sure you are ready not only to provide sustenance and a warm bed, but devotion and love.
Kristen Wong is the co-administrator of The Hawaii Military Pets Facebook page. An avid cat lover, she provides cat resources to help balance Theresa’s love for all things related to dogs. With a background in communications and writing, Kristen is a photojournalist for the Hawaii Marine. She lives in Kanoehe.