Posts in Cat Corner stories

Cat Corner Stories: Chapter 4

Today I am allowing myself to have a quiet celebration. After a really exhausting month as far as my street cats are concerned, I can look back with content and look forward with hope.

I know there are still difficult moments of pain and disappointment to come. But in a moment of insight yesterday, I said to Tamer, “Do you remember how we started with a small container of food a year and a half ago?”

Today we have a 15-kilo bag of kittle in the hallway. Two cats are resting in the same room, each in his own cat crate.

Tonight we will successfully release the 13th and 14th cat after sterilization / castration.

How far I’ve come and where else can I go on my cat volunteering journey!

(The photo was taken in the beginning of March 2020 when I came back from a 1 month visit to Slovenia. My cats waited and greeted me.)

Cat Corner Stories: chapter 3

He knew I would find them. That I wouldn’t just look away and would take care of them.

He probably didn’t know I was going to break down and cry. I don’t mean a single stoic tear in silence. It was an ugly cry of despair.

11 or 12 kittens in a pile. Whichever I picked up, there was something wrong with him/her. Malnourished. Dehydrated. With an eye infection. Three or four had their eyelids completely shut. I gently rubbed them with a wet cotton pad, but they did not open. I was howling at home to Tamer that they were blind! “How will they survive? These are walking corpses, their days are numbered… ”

The next day I brought them food and water again, just an extra stop on my daily feline feeding route. One kitten sadly succumbed. The others kept climbing into my lap day after day. So I was able to give them eye drops. None were blind, only a few squinting glances stared at me as I was talking to them.

Tomorrow will be three weeks since they came into my life. 2 sisters already found a home. For others, we continue looking for the right adopters. Everyone is getting better, the orange tigers are already real three-month-old trouble makers.

If the one who threw them out on the street ever looks me in the eye, I will curse him out. But my Arabic isn’t advanced enough. I would spit in his face. But that’s wrong, I’m told. So what else is there for me to do?

I persevere. For the kitties.

Cat Corner Stories: Chapters 1 & 2

I.

Bine, Pika, Chachi and Tommy.

These were the first four on my list for group sterilization / castration. Because they trust me the most, because they are the easiest to handle. The veterinarian ordered 4 cats to be brought for the first appointment, which seemed quite a challenge to us.

On the eve before out operation we had some chicken for dinner, I saved the boneless leftovers for morning baits. It was clear to me that everyday dry kibble would not be temting enough in cat crates. When we went downstairs, our candidates were not far from the entrance. Pika and Chachi were curiously sniffing around the two crates, that’s when Tamer and I realized it was really happening. I threw some chicken bits in the first crate, Pika went inside. Ta-da! We quickly closed the door and covered it with a piece of sheet to make it easier for her to calm down. For some reason, Chachi was not very suspicious and followed Pika’s example: went for the chicken bits, we closed the door, covered the crate with a sheet. We couldn’t believe we already had two out of four cats.

Next in line was Bine. He, too, did not cause any trouble, as expected. But – where was Tommy? I started to worry that we wouldn’t catch him in time and we would have to look for another candidate. “Let’s circle around the mosque. Maybe he’s in the back,” I said. And so he was, coming towards us around the corner. He seemed a little surprised (“What are you two doing outside in the middle of the night?”), but visibly excited to see us. Chicken bits in the crate, then Tommy in the crate, door closed. Done! We couldn’t believe we really succeeded. The adrenaline was flooding us from the moment we left the building and stepped out into the street. And now?

Then we had to the transport these 4 cats to the vet at 7.00 in the morning. There was little meowing, but luckily the ride was not long. Dr. Ingrid, a German expatriate in her 60s, seemed a little surprised at her door for a moment. We didn’t disappoint, we really delivered 4 full cat crates. We weren’t just making it up, when we told her at our first meeting that we wanted to help as many cats possible in our neighborhood.

“In a few hours, I’ll let you know to come back to pick them up.” Around 1pm I received her message and we headed outside again. Less than an hour later we returned with 4 feline patients. I prepared our hallway for their recovery: litter box, 2 box-beds, water container, some food. I closed the kitchen, but not well enough. It soon turned out to be too tempting to explore. Lesson learned for next time, and when they leave, all kitchen surfaces will have to be scrubbed this time.

Tommy managed to conquer the bathroom sink as well.

How come I even let them out of their crates? Because these are my beloved ones from the street. All less than one year old. I gained everyone’s trust months ago when they were still growing. My Bine, who came to me first. And Chachi from the other corner, who won me over with his signature jump towards my palm: “Pet me!” And Pika, Bine’s sweetheart, the youngest of the gang, will now be the first female in the neighborhood who will never have to have a litter. And last but not least, Tommy. My dancer Tommy, who for weeks seemed like he would never let me get too close to him. Now he is number one among those who sometimes occupy my lap.

Bine and Tommy in my lap.

My fantastic four have recovered by that same evening. I have to admit that I kept them “just in case” for about an hour longer … I sat with them on the floor of our hallway and wondered why I had to say goodbye to them. In response to my unspoken question, I heard Tamer sneeze from the living room. Cat hair allergy.

Later in the evening it was time to say goodbye. We didn’t force them back in their crates. We went downstairs from the second floor together. At the main gate they stopped and it seemed as if they were wondering- what now?

The cat gang remains inseparable. As if they formed an even stronger bond that day. From the balcony I see them playing together, napping … And when it’s time for dinner, they are always first to greet me – together.

Cat nap.

II.

Victoria, Fiona and Ferdi.

Less than a month later, it was time for the next three. I had notes in my calendar when seniors Victoria and Fiona gave birth. I wrote to the vet for an appointment and insisted that the next TNR operation should take place before the end of Ramadan. I was afraid that the females would soon be in heat again and consequently leave the kittens from their last litter. I followed them closely, in addition to feeding them in the evening, I started a morning routine as well and became quite a cat detective.

“How are we even going to catch them? It’s not going to be nearly as easy as with the first gang,” Tamer and I wondered. We didn’t want to use cages / traps because we could accidentally catch a male which wasn’t a priority, and we would scare them at the same time … Dr. Ingrid warned us that we should not underestimate the cats’ intelligence, as they have very good observation skills and learn quickly.

One week before the scheduled appointment, it came to me: training. Just like domestic cats, one could just as well train street cats. True, Vicky and Fifi are still pretty feral, even after one year of feeding them, but they show me a great deal of trust, they know me. So for the next 7 mornings I carried one of the cat crates with me in addition to my cat bag of food and water. I removed the door from the crate. At each feeding station, I laid it on the floor and continued with the usual routine of food piles and fresh water. I also poured some food into the crate and thus aroused the interest of all the eaters present. To my surprise, Tommy showed the most enthusiasm for the carrier. Quite often he simply sat inside with his back towards the exit and had a snack in peace.

I started noticing that many cats like to follow me to the next feeding / water station. Everyone likes a second portion. So after a few days, I was forced to change the direction of my route so that I could discover Victoria and Fiona’s hiding place. On “D Day”, we had to get them alone, without Tommy or anyone else who would insist on his crate ticket and thus sabotage our plan.

The last rehearsal on the penultimate day was encouraging. Both Victoria and Fiona expressed a great deal of interest in the crate and even poked their heads into it. “We’re gonna pull this off!”

The next morning came, this time tuna was the bait. We first fed everyone else and then headed to Victoria’s lair. By car, because it seemed that the whole gang would follow us by foot. In silence without sudden movements, I laid the biggest crate on the floor. A piece of tuna at the crate entrance, another piece a little deeper inside … I knew we only had one shot. Victoria sniffed the bait and looked at me, I was squatting silently and blinking at her slowly. Then Tamer approached, thinking we could finish up quickly. “Wait,” I said as Victoria dodged back out and tried out the emergency exit a few more times. I didn’t move and instilled confidence in her that I wasn’t presenting a threat. Boom! We have her. We have Victoria. The fiercest female from our street, who has had 4 litters of kittens in the past year, and this will now be her last.

“Let’s go after Fiona.” Of course I was spotted again by other cats, including Bine … The tuna obviously smelled great. I had to step towards him and take him in my arms to release him further away before any other cat notices me. He followed me again, but this time he understood he had to keep his distance. Oh, Bine, you genius. We caught Fiona too. Tamer placed both carriers in our car that already had the AC running.

“Shall we take another one?”

At the car, the fantastic four gang with already clipped ears was hanging out and there was Ferdi too. My climber Ferdi, who came for breakfast, didn’t suspect a thing, and we didn’t even have to ask him twice to come on board. Tamer didn’t even need my help, he just closed the little ginger boy by himself and carried him to the car.

My boy Ferdi.

This time we didn’t wait at home, we immediately drove to the vet and arrived a little early. Luckily we were able to sit with the AC in the car and when 7 o’clock struck, we carried the patients inside the clinic. We came to pick them up in the afternoon, just like last time. I prepared the hallway again, but this time I didn’t intend to let everyone out, because there could be a fight … Only Ferdi was able to explore and stretch, but after a while I locked him back in the crate.

In the evening we released them at the same spots where we caught them. All three were also given water and food, away from any potential tuna enthusiasts who might disturb them. The next morning I visited all three separately. I was most pleased to see Fiona, who was reunited with her kittens, and I managed to interrupt her just as she was nursing them. I can say that the joy was not mutual, so I moved away from her lair as quickly as possible. Victoria hid her pair of kittens better, but greeted me with a raised tail when I visited her. And Ferdi – was just like always. The fiery youngster climbed up my abaya again and licked my palm as I tried to pet him. All three of them recovered well.

Vicky on the following morning.

I am most grateful that we managed to catch Victoria and Fiona. Proud that we did this without unnecessary stress that would affect them negatively. I find it hard to describe the joy I feel. The joy of helping 7 cats up until now in our neighborhood already.

Washed cat crates, ready for the next TNR* operation.

*TNR refers to the Trap-Neuter-Release method, used by volunteers working with stray cats and dogs, meaning they prevent suffering from countless pregnancies and fights for territory.

You can help me by supporting my cause, click here

Cat food delivery

– Excuse me, where’s the cat food?
– We don’t have it, unfortunately.

I exit the small shop on the corner and head back home which is only one block away. Tommy is waiting for me by the mosque again. I breathe a sigh of relief that nothing happened to him after he tirelessly followed me on my way to the minimarket. That had to be some scene. A gray cat with a white belly and paws kept lingering under my feet for an entire block. Left, right, sidestep, forward. And again left, right, sidestep, forward. I learned the special cat walk some time ago because of my long-tailed stalkers, but I literally have to dance with Tommy every time we meet. Add a long abaya to the mix, the whirling  must present additional fun for the cat, but extra skill for me … We can probably just sign up for a dance competition and take home the gold.

Tommy
Tommy the dancer

“They don’t have food here, you’ll have to wait,” I try to tell him as other hungry cats start approaching us. I call Tamer on the phone and tell him I still need a ride to a bigger store.

“I’ll be down right away,” he informs me, and I sit down on the mosque steps with my feline company.

Opening the car door, I plead with them, “Wait here, we’re going to get some food for you. We’ll be back soon.” Several pairs of cat eyes look at me intently and something tells me they understand. They know they can count on me.

My feline friends
My feline friends

Cat royalty

Official news from Victoria to her fans:

“Cat princesses and princes are healthy. We are now in a third location in a week or so since they were born. My ingenuity simply cannot be compared, Misha also continues to praise me. She sometimes delivers me water and food, but every night I still run after her across the road for a second portion and to stretch my paws a little. I don’t let anyone else too close to me, I only tolerate some cats from Palm’s Corner in my personal space. This is how it will be until my little ones grow big enough.

You may leave congratulations in the comments and wish us all best of luck. For example, Misha wanted all the kittens to take after their mother: to grow up strong and bright.”

Crassus

Crassus here. Reporting to you from Jeddah, specifically from under a palm tree next to a mosque. This is my corner. Yes,  mine. You don’t believe it? Ask anyone. Well, not exactly anyone. Victoria, for example, has no clue. And no, she shouldn’t find out I said that.

Where was I … Aha! My corner. I am the biggest, handsomest, and most importantly the most desirable Tom cat in this territory.

Why did I take over posting today, you wonder? Well, I blame my own immense kindness. Misha asked me if I could write something short and simple about myself, and I said I would do my best. How am I doing? Spectacular, I’m sure.

I’ve known Misha for about 8 months now. She used to go visit other cats in the nearby park. Then strange things started happening. All of a sudden there weren’t that many people outside, the cars also stopped moving around. It was at that time that I began to notice a new figure in our street. She came out every day with a bag, but there was no trash or leftovers in it, as it usually is with other people. She placed the bag on the floor, and from it a container of water and another sealed container. She emptied it in small piles of dry briquettes of some kind. My beloved, Matsa, told me that it was called cat food. Before her guardians left her outside on the road, she had it on her menu every day, this “cat food”. Matsa happened to be the first cat on our street to officially introduce herself to Misha. She was taking care of a kitten at the time, and for some reason unknown to me, this human woman was constantly trying to feed only the two of them. Well, we all got our portion, but I wanted to eat first. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Well, she wouldn’t let me. Unacceptable! “No, that’s not going to work. This stranger is interfering in our feline order,” I meowed.

My palm tree

And you know what? Misha dared to make fun of me! She laughed at my legitimate meow-complaints and started calling me Cry Boy! Every time she saw me and I started with my justified meow-protests, when I wanted to assert my meow-right to the first pile, she scolded me and called me a Cry Boy again. “But that’s my corner. My palm tree.” I stopped meowing monologues and began to despise her in silence. She served me an okay pile every time, but in any case I would sometimes push away one of the younglings for my second serving.

Dinner time under my palm tree

Months have passed. She came every day. And she also sat with us a bit every day. Well, with the younglings. I just joined them so I always knew what was going on. Myself, my beloved Matsa, Victoria … We slumped next to each other and watched this peculiar woman sit and caress every kitten, which was willing to trust her and then crawl into her lap.

Sometimes she would sit with us for a bit longer. At those times it happened that we could only hear the rustling of the palm branches, and after a few minutes some tiny, but extremely fast steps of a rat, which accidently stumbled too close, would be approaching us around the corner. When this happened for the first time, Misha looked at us with astonishment and her eyes were saying something like: “Why won’t you move after it?” Apparently she didn’t know about our deal with the rat gang. Well, the arrangement that applies only in the current state of plentiful leftovers: “As long as there is enough food for everyone, we leave you alone.”

My beloved Matsa, little Vinka on the right, yours trully in the background

Yes, she learned a lot in our company. Fortunately I allowed her to stay with us. Well, she’s quite alright, I’ll give her that. She even knows now that I am entitled to an extra pile sometimes, and she also calls me by my real name.
I agreed to a photo shoot this week. “It’s high time Mighty Crassus got some PR service,” I said to myself. My photographer was extremely professional, I was relaxed and trusting her completely. Her sincere emotional praise was, of course, to be expected. That is also one of the reasons, I agreed to write today’s post. She told me she needed time for new inspiration. New ideas for her letters. So I did her a favor and at the same time most likely brightened your day with my meow-story. You’re welcome.

Striking pose which pleased the photographer the most

Victoria

Cat plant. Extremely rare. Grows well in night time under the artificial light of street lamps.
I dedicate today’s letter to Victoria. The most resourceful, enduringly strong and intelligent cat on our street. We’ve been meeting since spring.
According to my observations, she will soon have her third litter this year. When she was taking care of her first one, no other cat was allowed or dared to approach the palm tree on the corner, where I was delivering food and water to the breastfeeding cat mother. I’ve also seen battle wounds on her. She’s been through it all. But her instinct is unprecedented, if anyone, then Victoria knows how to survive in a cruel concrete jungle.

Despite knowing each other for quite along time, Vicky is still feral, she doesn’t want to be caressed. “No need for that, thanks. Just leave the food there, then you can go,” she always tells me with a look in her eyes, but her tail is always welcoming when she approaches me.


Last week, however, the street boss lady invented a new strategy. Late in the evening, she now waits for me downstairs in front of our apartment building. She settles on the cold soil in a decorative pot and falls asleep sometimes. When I show up with my well known bag, she meows to greet me and walks with me to the first corner where a few other cats come for the meal as well. After I’m done making piles of food, Vicky reaches for one of them, and sometimes she decides to bother other cats, if she is in the mood to bully them for the sake of her feline territorial reputation.
That’s not new.


Her next step is what surprised me.
When I fill the water bowl and see that everyone is having dinner in peace, I head over to the other end of the street where another cat gang is waiting for me. Sometimes they come half way go meet me.
What about Victoria? She comes with me. For “seconds”.
Luckily I have enough for everyone, and Vicky most probably knows that I can’t refuse her another serving.

Yesterday something new happened again. When I started pouring cat food out of the container, she came so close that her head deliberately rubbed my hand for the first time ever.
Then she stepped back and looked at me as if to say “See how nice I am? Pour a little bigger pile for me.”
Clever girl.

Binky & Vinka

Each and every one of them deserves a home. Security. An armchair and a lap to sit on.

My street cats don’t have all of that. Every day, however, I bring them cold water under the palm tree on the corner. I give them food. They also dig it out of the bins. Every now and then it happens that people throw away their furniture in addition to leftovers and waste. At those times, many cats are seen royally stretched out on the old armchairs, kittens chasing each other between the mattresses and drawers.

Binky

When all of it is taken away by the municipality, they play around the palm tree again, hunt for lizards and insects, the mature cats occupy the corners of the large bins, where they supervise their territory.
During the day, everyone hides from the heat and sun in the narrow passages between the buildings. In the evening they come out again. That’s when I visit them too.

In all these months I am already well acquainted with everyone in the street, with the older feral alphas, who tolerate my closeness, others are almost too affectionate on account of human contact not being foreign to them. The kittens first observe me for several weeks. Then it happens. Not with every kitty, of course. But the most daring ones at some point simply decide that I am worthy of their trust. They get very close to my feet and also hands that distribute small piles of food. All of a sudden, their ears find themselves under my fingers, which can then caress them after what seems like some sort of a broken magic spell.

Vinka

I want to give them everything they deserve and need. But I can only help them to the best of my ability.

My cats actually give me so much more than I can give them. When I empty the food container and pour the water, they sit with me on the steps of the mosque. Even those feral alphas who otherwise never seek my affection.

That’s why they are all – my kitties. 

Siblings