Thursday, March 22, 2007

A 6th addition to the household?

My new neighbour has a lovely cat. Can't tell if its a guy or a girl. But it has a lush and striking dark brown, black and yellow coat and a formidable, baleful stare with piercing bright green eyes.

We first noticed it snoozing in the neighbour's front porch. It was a sign that the house we thought to be long-empty, was no longer vacant. The next time we saw it, it was scooting out from beneath our neighbour's car when KH started ours. It tried to jump over the drain and back through the wrought-iron fences of its house. But it was fat and I saw it hesitate quite a bit before making the leap. I could commiserate. I know what it's like to be so out of shape.

Nonetheless, I am so attracted to it and very very tempted to get a cat for a pet.

So far the only domesticated cats I know have been Gayle's 2 cats and Aunty Sue's big fat Moses. Moses is a real character. He's quite the scaredy-cat and hides in the closet when thunder booms or visitors come. According to Aunty Sue he used to be quite the sleek magnificent creature stalking the backlanes near their old place in Li Hwan. But now that they've moved, and are living in a 13th floor apartment, the guy can't get out. So he's sadly gone to seed, stuffing himself with no exercise. Last I saw him, he was the whoppingest-fattest cat I'd ever seen!

The idea of pets joining us is not a newly mooted one.

When Sui Noi, a journalist friend, left for her Taiwan posting, she asked if I could take Timmy, a lovely golden retriever. He needed the space that a landed home could provide. Retrievers are also known to be gentle with children. But the thought of the additional responsibility - bringing him for walks, visits to the vet etc, killed the idea. So Timmy went to another home. I hear he's happy there.

So apart from the many long-kang fish we have in the big water-lily pot, and the larger fish in the back garden pot, we've been pet-less.

The closest we came to one was the pigeon Isaac insisted we save. Appeared in our garden with a damaged wing. Had we left it alone, it would have faced certain death from the aggressive crows residing in the trees lining the road. So Isaac insisted we save it. Brought it to the vet, who could not understand why we wanted to nurse the pigeon back to health and sceptical that it would even survive. But survive it did. We changed the bedding every day, fed it water and grains of rice and generally left it alone. Isaac though, would peer into the big cardboard box it called home and stroke it everyday.

When it got better, it used to hop around the living room - and poo all over the place! Isaac was emotionally invested in the bird and when it took off one fine day as we knew it would, he was very sad. And after that, every single pigeon that flew into the garden, he would wonder if it was the pigeon he saved. He would weave stories about those visitors - wondering if it were a guy or girl pigeon, if they knew the one he saved, if perhaps it had told others about him, if they were sending him a message etc!

The kids, like most kids I guess, are reasonably excited over animals - they see a cat/dog and they coo over it, petting it (strays and pets alike) etc. Right now the closest they've got to a pet of their own is really an accumulation of all the dogs in the neighbourhood. They know all their names.

When the Lab five doors down comes by, they go out to greet it. When the Filipino maid some streets away comes along with her big golden retriever, she stops to let the kids play with it. Once in a while, they go three houses down to Mike's place to play with Shandy the beagle. And now that an Aussie guy has moved in across from us with his terrier and shih-tzu, they would stop at his gate to play with them too. And of course, they all love Aunty Vivian's Poppet - the luckiest pariah dog in Malaysia, so cossetted and loved by Aunty Vivian! My sister always says the dog ends up traumatised after our visits because the kids would be all over it, petting, stroking, rubbing it and occasionally pulling its tail!

Somehow though, their love does not extend to the neighbour just directly in front of our house - the guy has 8 or 9 dogs (although only 2 or 3 are seen at any one time in the front garden). It's probably illegal to have so many dogs and I know complaints have been levied anonymously (not me I swear!) which led to some of the dogs being hastily evacuated in the dark of night before the authorities come to inspect his place! Anyway, his dogs do not seem very friendly to children and the kids pick up on the vibes I guess. The dogs bark incessantly and love to pick fights with other neighbourhood dogs too.

So now, I am thinking of getting a cat. We'd have to neuter it of course, and let it roam free during the day. Cats strike me as being rather independent creatures which require little fuss. I don't think they'd stay home often and with our house doors and windows always flung wide open, they certainly would have carte blanche to come and go freely.

I don't believe in getting pets to 'teach' the children responsibility or to be 'companions' to them. Animals are not teaching tools. They require a certain level of responsibility and commitment. A cat, with a free spirit nature, sounds less emotionally needy than a dog and might suit us? Am I ready for this? With 5 kids and their attendant responsibilities already? Sounds mad right?

But right now, I don't know why, I am just drawn to the idea of a cat in the house. Hmm, more research needed before I make a decision. I don't think it would be an expensive pedigree but a street cat, maybe from the Cat Welfare Society or the SPCA, someone that needs a home?


Cory said...

funnily enough - i was thinking about a cat, too!! deja vu!

try spca. think about getting a scratching post.

and cats, they don't bark!!

The Chengs said...

Is Sui Noi the one from RJC? Goh Sui Noi?