Monday, February 09, 2009

Tigerlily today

So its been more than a month and Tigerlily is more than ever, a part of our family. Even her name has stuck - 4 syllables not withstanding. She is now Tigerlily Chong, feline sib to Gillian, Isaac, Caitlin, Owain and Trinity Rose.

We've brought her to the vet for a prelim exam. She looks like she's about a year old and in good general health. We've dewormed her and given her her vax. And we're planning to neuter her within the next week or two.

She's made herself at home. She sleeps with Cait on the bed and I've spotted a guilty looking KH actually tucking her in with Cait's comforter! When I glared him for spoiling her, he muttered something lamely about the aircon being too cold for her. That man is putty in the cat's paws.

In the morning, she wakes Cait up by mewing and pacing the room. You know the research about mothers and babies sharing the same light sleep rhythm. Well looks like I now share the cat's rhythm! I wake up instinctively knowing I have to feed the cat. Usually its around 5.30am. Which is time for us to rise and shine anyway. Half asleep, I pad downstairs, and she eagerly follows, mewing all the way. I fill her bowl and let her munch eagerly away.

Then the kids get ready for school, give her one 'last stroke' for the day and leave. Tigerlily also usually heads out for the morning to visit her alleycat buddies too, now that she's a real lady of leisure! She comes back at midmorning to sleep on our sofa. If the kids are too noisy, she leaves and takes her nap in the neighbour's motorbike. By 4pm or 5pm, she's usually home. Like clockwork, she mews for food. We feed her, then brush her, stroke her and sayang her until she gets sick of us. Then she hangs around the garden practising her hunting skills. Usually flattening herself on her haunches in the stalk and pounce position.

I saw her fascinated with the twittering sunbirds in the neighbour's garden. She stealthily made her way to the wire fence before she realised: darn it, it was a fence! Then she slipped into the drain, trying to find her way next door unsuccessfully, only to return in minutes, looking a bit paiseh that her plans were thwarted.

By 9pm or 10pm, she comes indoors, runs upstairs and makes herself comfy on Cait's bed, ready to sleep.

Two weeks ago, the bad mommy that I am, I put some anti-flea drops on her. These were supposed to keep fleas and ticks away. She flinched a bit but did not bite or hiss. She just darted away as soon as I was done. I thought she just didn't like the liquid dripping on her neck. She didn't show up for the rest of the day, which was a bit unusual. By evening though, I realised what had happened. Her fur had fallen off at the patch where I dripped the liquid and it was raw with her scratching. Horrified, we brought her to the vet who prescribed antibiotics and anti-pyretic meds as well as a cream. Poor Tigerlily, must have been so scared and so itchy, peed and pooed in the cat carrier! Which traumatised the unhappy cat further since cats really hate dirtying up their space.

She ended up with a lampshade on her neck to prevent the scratches. But again, the next day she scooted off, even forgoing her meals. We were so worried. We thought she'd get stuck somewhere, or hurt, or hit by a car, or lost - since her whiskers were impeded. To our relief, she came back late at night and KH promptly removed the lampshade. Must say she looked so dang cute with the shade on though! Her skin wound has not healed though and she's still got that hairless patch there.

Tigerlily has made herself a part of our family and she's such a good-natured, gentle soul. She gamely lets Trin 'sayang' her, which is really a rough sort of caress, she yowls when Trin chases her around the place, but never holds a grudge. She's independent and comes and goes as she pleases. She's killed three fishes in the big dragon pot already and KH still seems very indulgent towards her.

We've also acquired cat paraphernalia in our house. A cat hair brush, cat food pellets (we buy the more expensive Science diet brand for her), she has her own water bowl and food bowl, a lovely collar and she has her cat carrier. She even has some catnip! Only thing we don't have is her litterbox. She does her toiletting outside. Not even in our garden because she loves to laze around in the grass there and cats always keep their toilet spaces away from their leisure spaces, so we know she does not poo/pee there. The one time she pooed indoors was in our laundry basket. We threw the whole thing out - ugh. I was happy to do that since the old one was ugly and mangy already. So thanks to Tigerlily, we got a new laudry basket!

Its been more than a month but I can't imagine life without her. I don't think any of us can. We're so used to coming back and calling: Where's Tigerlily? And when she hears the sound of the gates clang, she comes running back from wherever she was. We're so nuts about her in all our different ways. Isaac loves to stroke her whenever he can. For someone who is not very 'social' or 'emotional', this is very nice to see. Cait loves to carry her like a newborn baby and even though cats generally don't like this, Tigerlily patiently lets her.

And KH, whenever he comes home, his first question inevitably is: where's the cat? I've seen them both sitting down reading the papers, his one hand absently stroking her. Its not cheap to take care of her medically and vets are expensive (the two encounters with vets elicited vet charges of $140 each time!), but KH, though known to be stingy at times, says money is no object. He wanted to change vets for her sterilisation just because he did not like the set-up of the one we go to. "Have you seen the state of their holding area?" he asked me indignantly. "Pay a bit more and get a better vet please!"

And as for me, I find myself super-attuned to her sounds, my ears always half-cocked for mewing. Like new mothers with super-sensitive hearing that can pick up other newborns crying 5km away in the next town, I get the same intense awareness about the cat's mews. Ever so often, I would stop and say: oi, is that the cat again? Does she want food?

Cat-mad. Absolutely cat-mad...

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