Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Cat Which Fell to Earth: Part the Second (its Longwinded Conclusion)

Now, where were we?

I spent the
next two hours pacing the apartment, hands over ears, trying futilely to block out the mewling of the little grey kitten and the distressed yowls of its mother.

... and then I went to work. Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad came
with me in the hopes of securing the stellar assistance of Office Boy. Office Boy was busy ordering food for the staff's iftar - the meal which marks the end of the day's fast - and couldn't be spared from calling that one restaurant. Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad left, instead, with a step ladder which given the brain capacity of Office Boy meant that Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad came out ahead in the bargain. While I taught, he and a few curious neighbours tried - in vain - to coax the kitten to edge of the makeshift roof/overhang. Needless to say, the ladder didn't quite reach and consequently, nor could Mr. This Cat. He tossed a few Turkish 'chicken burgers' (a.k.a. bologne slices) on top of the makeshift roof/overhang. The kitten greedily wolved down the slices and then Mr. This Cat summarily suspended all rescue operations until darkness fell and I returned home.

Darkness fell and I returned home.

I came home at 10:00 and we resumed our now joint efforts to rescue the kitten. We could see the paws of the kitten - more or less - through the corrugated plastic of the makeshift roof/overhang but we could neither reach it nor lure it to the edge. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the obvious; namely, kittens can be quite skittish, especially when they are scared shitless by a six-storey drop and quite shy, especially when they have had zero contact with Tall Beings Which Walk on Two Legs who are trying to grab it.

To make matters worse, of all freaking nights, all the shops on our shop-lined street were staying open for a Midnight Madness-type sale - in anticipation of the end of Ramadan, now three days away. Apparently, there is no limit to the number of polyester headscarves, plastic toys and made-in-China crap from the dollar store people require to celebrate the end of Islam's holiest month. What this meant is that every time the kitten even remotely came close to the edge of the makeshift overhang/roof, a gaggle of women, a muffler-less scooter, and/or a pack of screeching kids passed by, spooking the kitten. Eventually, it took cover behind the Singer Sewing Machine sign, completely out of our purview and definitely out of our reach.

Time passed ...

We were stymied - which really meant that I wanted to sit down on the curb and cry. The son of the owner of the plastic toy shop directly across the street from us - a child who on a good day resembles Pugsley from the Addams Family and far worse on a bad day - who hitherto had spent the last 45 minutes swinging a toy gun on a string around him and hitting passers-by, now stood in the middle of the street, stared
blankly at us and gaped. I fully expected him to suddenly point at us as otherworldly screams emanated from his mouth. All in slow motion. As a preemptive measure, I wanted to take that toy gun and cause him grievous bodily harm with it.

Close to midnight, we heard a louder than usual car motor - this in itself was not unusual but tonight the street had been closed off to traffic (well, sort of) for its Midnight Madness sale - and we looked down the street to see a fire truck approaching.

Do you think if I flagged them down, I asked Mr. Cat, they'll let us use their cherry-picker to rescue the kitten?

Uh - no, he responded. (He's so negative some times.)

Then the most remarkable thing happened. The fire truck - which was having no easy time navigating the narrow street where we live - actually stopped in front of our building and then the ladder swivelled towards the makeshift roof/overhang. It turns out that one of the men who had helped Mr. Cat earlier that evening, who saw us still struggling in our efforts to save the kitten, called the fire department. Will wonders never cease? In 2009, in butthole Turkey, the fire department actually rescues stranded cats.

Pugsley Addams stared and gaped some more.

Huzzah! I cried. But not for long. One of the firemen - a young fellow who clearly had aspirations of starring in the Turkish version of Spiderman - scrambled onto the corrugated plastic of the makeshift roof/overhang. Because of its flimsiness, he had to shimmy spread-eagle across it but for every inch he advanced, the kitten retreated two inches. Finally the kitten made a daring escape onto the canvas awning of the next door building. Spiderman followed.

This being Turkey, I would add, a crowd of 50-some men had gathered around the fire truck all dispensing probably
contradictory advice. The women stayed behind in the scarf shops. Spiderman grabbed the step ladder and tried again to grab the kitten. The kitten, no shabby Spiderman, or Spiderkitten itself, lept onto the wall, sunk its claws into some wires on the corner of the building, scaled the wall - amazingly not electrocuting itself - rounded the corner and heaved itself up onto another overhang of yet another store.

This overhang at least was made of concrete.

More men arrived to watch and dispense presumably contradictory advice. The women stayed behind in the scarf shops.

The fire truck backed up, the ladder swivelled towards Spiderkitten's new hiding place, and Spiderman now climbed onto the concrete overhang. He made a valiant attempt to grab Spiderkitten but it bolted, jumping and scrambling behind a another nearby store sign - not unlike a long hollow tube, open at both ends. Spiderman grabbed our ladder and positioned himself at one end while another fireman stood at the other end and tried to flush Spiderkitten out with a broom. At this point, a half dozen bystanders decided to help by banging on the metal sign.

If Spiderkitten survives this, I thought, it will need therapy for life. Or was I talking about me?

Presumably suffering from tinnitus, Spiderkitten popped out and decided to make another run for it - there were more exposed wires snaking up the wall - but its claws failed and it fell onto the sidewalk where, defying all laws of physics, it ran around the corner at speeds which would shame a cheetah - with me, Puglsey Addams and about ten men in hot pursuit. We cornered it and then Pugsley endeavoured to calm the kitten down by
suddenly pointing at it as otherworldly screams emanated from his mouth and then waving his arms to and fro like a fucking retard ... which resulted into two things happening:

1) My shouting what the fuck are you doing? at him (after all, a tongue-lashing is a tongue-lashing in any language) at which he started at me blankly,
2) The kitten turning around, running towards Mr.This Cat and taking cover between the metal grate of a security gate and a store front.

Spiderkitten was now cornered and Mr. This Cat was able to reach between the gate and the glass storefront and grab the kitten. He passed me the kitten and went in search for a box. Rather than express gratitude for its rescue, it hissed, spat and dug its not-as-miniscule-as-you'd-think claws into my hands and bit me. Hard. I realized then why Spiderman was wearing large industrial leather gloves. Then it shit on me. I couldn't help but notice that its turds were quite firm so I made note to continue buying the same brand of kitten food for it and its siblings.

Mr. Cat found an empty and followed me into our apartment building foyer into which I threw the little ingrate. Thank the firemen! I called back to Mr. This Cat as I ascended the stairs and sucked the blood pouring from my hands. He did.

As I thought about the incubation period for rabies and wondered if feline distemper was communicable to humans, I brought Spiderkitten upstairs and opened up the box. It spat and hissed some more. Such anger in such a little kitten.

That night, we spent a sleepless night listening to
Spiderkitten cry pitifully for its mother, root about the bedroom for a place to hide, and hiss and spit at me whenever I approached it, until it - and by extension we - all fell asleep around 6 a.m. We woke up a few hours later to find it curled up asleep on the floor beside our bed.

We weighed our options but knew that we couldn't keep it; we were going away on the weekend and we couldn't leave this feral firebrand alone for three days, no matter how cute it was. (And it was.) With throbbing and possibly rabid hands - I grabbed Spiderkitten and returned it to its box. Mr. This Cat and I went out and rounded the corner to the normally locked door of the building which is home to Slutty Mom Cat and her brood.
The door was open and we climbed the stairs to her penthouse. The door to the top floor was uncharacteristically open as well, and entered the unfinished space, bending down below the rafters. Slutty Mom Cat was there as were the other three kittens.

From deep within its box Spiderkitten began to meow and Mom's ears perked up. We positioned the box in the middle of the room, opened it up, and stepped back. Slutty Mom Cat approached the box and, at the same time, Spiderkitten popped out. Mother and kitten ran towards each other and there was much headbutting and mewling.

As Mr. This Cat later said, if you had seen this reunion and not been moved to tears, you would have to have a heart of stone.

We patted out backs. We had done the right thing and hopefully, just perhaps - maybe maybe maybe - Spiderkitten will have learned a valuable lesson. For the rest of the morning and afternoon, we could hear it mewing softly but these were no cries of distress.

We patted our backs some more. By the end of the night, it was back on the cement balcony roughhousing and tumbling about the precipitous
edge with its siblings. Fuck almighty.

If it falls again, I muttered to Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad, it's on its own.


Anonymous said...

A story with a happy ending.
You have a heart after all.
While you were reuniting mother and kitten could you not block off the precarious edge of the balcony?

This Cat's Abroad said...

First of all, thanks for your kind words regarding the state of my heart.

As far as blocking up the balcony, it's impossible. Nothing to block it up with and also, to access it, we would have had to get past Mom & all her kittens and we didn't want to upset any of them anymore than they already were. We just left the kitten, fresh water, a kilo of food and left.

Anonymous said...

The story is priceless, as is your re-telling of it. I truly look forward to reading new entries to your blog, and hope you are compiling them into some sort of travel memoir - you have a totally dry wit, and your storytelling skills are stellar. Thanks for the great read! And I am so happy for the happy ending - I am living in Morocco, and from what I have heard and seen, it seems like animals often get the short end of the stick in a lot of developing countries, but clearly there were lots of people with heart involved in this incident.

This Cat's Abroad said...

Krista, thanks for your really kind words. I spent 2 years in Morocco and the treatment of animals was seldom pleasant. Depending on where you are, you can get involved with Spana, an animal welfare group there:

In fact, my Moroccan memoirs are being published next year & I expect to sell the movierights shortly.

Drop me a line some time.

kobico said...

I'm glad you were able to save the kitten ... and I hope you were able to avert an infection in your hand!

This Cat's Abroad said...

Hands have healed - thanks Kobico!

Anonymous said...

Three orange kittens? How could you resist?

(need your snail mail address for annual Halloween card from Missouri -- do you still have my email?)