Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Cat Which Fell to Earth in Two Parts with a Lengthy Preamble

I hate preambles but today a preamble is necessary and it will, in all likelihood, be quite lengthy.

The Lengthy Preamble:

In the apartment building next to us is a building whose owner had, at one time, decided to add an extra floor but, part way through changed his mind - meaning that he ran out of money. So from our balcony we have a lovely view of a 4th floor construction site-cum-dump with a bare slab of concrete serving as a balcony. Last spring, a squatter appeared on the balcony: a tabby with two newborn kittens. We fed them daily by tossing bags of food over the balcony; the kittens grew up; all manner of feline life eventually made their way out of the building into the great big world, and life went on.

A few weeks ago, our slutty Mom Cat - clearly satisfied and mindful of the post-natal care she received from her previous lie-in - was back in her penthouse suite-cum-dump and soon four kittens (three marmalades and a grey tabby) made their appearance. More mouths to feed but I confess that their almost unbearable cuteness (they are very cute) mitigates the almost overwhelming stress of their being in my life.

Stress? you ask.

The daily feedings on the balcony are a source of great stress for me because there is no barrier to protect the kittens - one false step and it's a sheer 4-storey drop down down down to the sidewalk below - a significant fall if you are the size of a well-fed hamster. Kittens play. It is what they do. Watching roughhousing tumbly kittens and a bare unguarded balcony edge is turning my hair grey. Thank God I'm vain enough to colour it. If this isn't enough, every crow in a 25-kilometre radius of Izmit knows that the plastic bags I lob onto the kittens' balcony is chockful of tantalizing Crow Delights -a.k.a. kitten chow. Once the kittens have had their fill, the kamikazing crows descend onto the balcony en masse and, not to put too fine a point on it, scare the kittens - who are the size of well-fed hamsters - shitless. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud.

So just to recap - or to bring my Lengthy Preamble to its now overdue conclusion: roughhousing tumbly kittens, precipitous drop, murderous crows, and weekly applications of Excellence Crème 5.5 by L'Oréal (a triple protection system for 100% grey coverage).

Part the First:

Yesterday morning I went out at my usual time to feed The Family. Slutty Mom Cat was there with the three marmalades but the grey tabby - the alpha kitten, in fact - was notably absent. I commented on this to Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad. The grey tabby - the alpha kitten, in fact - is notably absent, I said. I began to fret.

Now I neglected to mention in my Lengthy Preamble that our street is a busy one and much favoured by hordes of children prone to ear-piercing shrieks, barking street vendors, and flatulent motorbikes. Additionally, its back alleyways - which we can see from our apartment - are populated by tribes of feral cats and kittens. In a word, our street is loud, so to hear anything short of the boom! of a nuclear explosion would not be out of the ordinary. But yesterday morning, we heard a different cry - definitely not an infant's but not one of the neighbourhood cats either, and we couldn't identify its source or its location. It was insistent and continued into the afternoon.

It was then that we noticed Mom Cat: she was pacing around the balcony, peering over the edge, and crying. I had a sinking billeous feeling in the netherparts of my stomach and, having the eyesight of a mole, called Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad - a.k.a. Mr. Eagle Eyes - to the balcony to check the street once again.
It's down there! he cried. I can see it.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! .....
I wailed. And he pointed.

And indeed it was. On the corrugated plastic roof/overhang of the store which occupies the main floor of the apartment building is a large metal Singer Sewing Machine sign. Beside the sign was the grey tabby.
Crying. Alive yes, but injured? Probably. Dying? I didn't even want to think about it - at least the corrugated plastic roof/overhang had broken its fall and it had just missed the sidewalk. But this was Ramadan - was it too naive of me to hope for another miracle from a god whose antipathy toward me is already well documented?

Not knowing what to do, we scurried downstairs to see if we could somehow reach the kitten. On the second floor of the apartment building was a dress studio whose display windows overlook the
makeshift roof/overhang. Perhaps, in our stellar nonexistent Turkish, we could persuade an employee to let us crawl through one of their windows and rescue the kitten.

We went up to the second floor and buzzed the ringer. Do you speak English? we asked the girl who answered the door, a pointless courtesy really, as we knew full well that she wouldn't. She shook her head and I was forced to haul out my linguistic big guns: the words balkon (as in balcony) and kedi (as in kitty). She nodded but wouldn't let us into the store. For fuck's sake! - should I offer to buy a dress? We pantomimed that the kitten had fallen and, either because she didn't understand our clever gestures indicating a cat falling from space or she was mentally feeble, called for her supervisor to decide if we should be let
into the store.

The Supervisor, equipped with either a brain or a heart (or both), motioned for us to come in and showed us to the window which overlooked the
makeshift roof/overhang. Unfortunately, it wasn't a full length display window but rather a regular window-window and access to it was blocked by several industrial sewing machines. The likelihood that they would allow us to move their work station seemed glaringly dim. The supervisor rattled on to us in Turkish and the only word which was even vaguely familiar was salami. Either she had been feeding it luncheon meat or I had completely misunderstood and she had just told me that a small cat was lying below her window with all four legs twisted in unnatural angles from its body .

Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad shimmied over and, craning his neck, could see the kitten. It was alive and not visibly injured but very very frightened. There was no way he could reach it and in spite of his attempts to get it to approach him (he piss-wissed it), it slunk back behind the Singer Sewing Machine sign.

Dejected and with no help being offered from the Sewing Ladies - you'd think the constant crying would have unnerved them by this point - we left. We stood below the sign and waited for - well - a sign from Allah. A DVD pirate (no parrot or eye patch but a prodigious selection of
Nicholas Cage films) whose very temporary sales stand was located just under the makeshift roof/overhang pointed at the makeshift roof/overhang and said a very great deal to us but the only word we understood was kedi. He made no references to salami. He also suggested - we think - that we try the Sewing Ladies. We thanked him and hiked back upstairs to reassess things. In two hours I had to be at work. Was there a ladder there we could use? Perhaps someone at work could help us. Maybe we could borrow Office Boy, our hapless navigator through the turbulent seas of Turkish cell phone acquisition.

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.

End of Part the First


Snowflake said...

Ok, I only want Part the Second if it's a good ending. Don't even THINK of sending me the link unless the kitty is safe and sound!!!

This Cat's Abroad said...

Patience ... in the meantime, you should read an older blog post of mine calledf Groovy Max: a puppy which was killed by her owner (a Moroccan student)'s grandfather.

Unknown said...

Oh no, the poor kitten! I wonder if Turkey has animal rescue groups that do TNR, so this won't be a recurring problem for you.

Cath said...

"Cats can work out mathematically the exact place to sit that will cause most inconvenience."

This Cat's Abroad said...

Amen to that Cathy.
Conclusion will be after the weekend ... going away to celebrate the end of Ramadan among the Turk-haters.

Anonymous said...

Are you back yet ?????
How is the kitten ????
They can't last too many days without water and food.
How could you go away and leave it like that ????
I wouldn't go away and leave you hanging on a precipice..
The poor little thing. Did you call the fire departmen ??? They like to rescue kitties.