i’m currently living with a beautiful kitty, and incase you didn’t know, i’ve never had a pet cat, ever, at any point, ever, in my whole life.
not that i don’t like cats, my family honestly loves cats! we’d squeal over cats that our friends or other family members keep as pets, only wishing we could have our fingers inching closer to them bit by bit, to touch them.
sadly, we’re all allergic to cats. we’ve been allergic since we were young. i used to have allergic reactions towards cats to the extent of having extremely watery red eyes, and rashes that would stick around with me until they got bored of me.
as for strays, some would come bump their heads at our legs- but in this case, i’d squirm in fear not because they’re not well kept, but.. because they’re not well kept, there are possibilities of these cats having infectious diseases or fleas and scabies. nothing against the cat personally, really, but because of the germaphobic streak that my siblings and i’d obtained from our dad, we’d just tremble in fear at the slightest sight of a stray cat.
after growing up staying far from kitties, i had some guts in myself to still touch cats whenever i feel confident enough. my friend Adilah would do the honours of allowing her kitties to play with me whenever i come over (of course, i’d wash my hands after but still get the reactions nonetheless) and this had slowly led me to open up, to touch and handle them with care.
before i got married, i used to be afraid of sifoo. not because she seems aggressive, ferocious or conceited and snooty, but because she’s simply what she is- a cat. whenever i headed over to the studio, i’d badly want to touch and play with sifoo because face it, regardless of her age, she’s too cute! i’d be mesmerized at how she’d climb and hop onto people’s laps, lay herself calmly and take pleasure in all the stroking that she gets from them.
it was a common sight though as i lay my head flat on the laptop that was on ag’s desk, fast asleep while i take a break from doing my assignments back then- i’d wake up to see her laying right beside me, napping along. when i actually do get up though, she would do so too, give me a bitchy-look or two and then jump off to make her way elsewhere. with whatever courage i had mustered to just reach my hand out and pat her head within that short timespan that i had, i just couldn’t do it. no matter how many times i try, i just couldn’t.
until one day, again, i’d fallen asleep (same way same place same position same reason), and woke up to the sight of her sleeping calmly on my lap. sitting upright, she didn’t even flinch. this time, i thought, “you know what? it’s alright. she’s alright, she’s a kitty, and if she doesn’t like me, she wouldn’t even bother coming close to me,” and so i slowly placed my fingers on her head.
she flinched. yes, she flinched, but not because she hated it. she flinched because she wanted me to touch her. i stroked her head slowly and she flattened her ears sideways, later on rolling herself into a ball and continued snoozing off.
it was there and then that i’d fallen extra in love with her! and surprisingly, with whatever allergic reaction i’d gotten from any previous feline-encounters, this one initially left me with slight watery eyes and rashes that went off in just a minute or two. i’d sneeze, but a few times lesser than the usual.
as i begin to live with sifoo in the same house with her hopping over to plop herself beside me and request for hugs or strokes from me, i noticed that these allergic reactions are all gone. i used to have a tough time coping with these reactions, but now? alhamdulillah, not a single rash as i touch her, not a single sneeze as she lays herself close to me, and no watery eyes as she comes close.
if you’re a doctor or cat specialist and reading this post, please by all means contact me and explain your thoughts and scientific explanations on why the allergic reactions suddenly disappeared after i started living with one. please.
back to the story of the day: as i’d mentioned above, i’m terrified of strays. was, still am, and always will be terrified of strays. no matter how relaxed and calm i might be, no matter how i smile or even strike conversations about it saying positive remarks such as, “this cat is so cute! someone please give her food, she looks pregnant,” or, “guys got stray cat wey, damn cute, kesiannya, eh feed it la, eh but if feed later it won’t go away right,” as it comes over bumping its head and attempting to jump up onto the table, keep in mind that at that very moment, i am, in fact, deep down inside, excruciatingly horrified, terrified, petrified and all the frightening-fieds there ever is in the dictionary.
today after successfully getting the nasi ayam hainan cheemeng that i’ve been craving for, ag dropped me home before he left for prayers. upon entering the house, i suddenly heard a loud string of ‘meows’. these aren’t simply ‘meows’ though, these are exquisitely long and desperate-sounding meows.
i looked to my right, only finding a stray cat suddenly pouncing onto my leg, meowing to no end.
this isn’t a new encounter though. she or he has been meowing to no end a few nights ago as ag came back from work. it kept cuddling around as ag tried to enter the house, and its meows would get louder as further as its chances of eating gets. we tried bringing sifoo down to meet the stray incase she wants to befriend it, but turns out she wants otherwise.
“MRRRRRRRRRRRRR… KHHHHH” she went, when ag opened the window slightly enough for her to see the stray outside.
ok. bad idea.
i had to bring her back upstairs as ag fed the stray downstairs, just so that it would quiet down and leave.
TODAY THOUGH. that very same stray was the stray that pounced on my leg.
this stray was beautiful! a calico like sifoo is. if only it was clean, healthy and fluffy- it’d be such a loving kitty because yes, it seemed to be really loving. i then thought of running upstairs to get catfood, quickly head back downstairs, feed it and leave it be.. until i opened the door just a bit, revealing a little head and paw trying to peep through.
sifoo was already downstairs waiting for me! it’s not a rare case though, she always runs down, meows and waits for us to open the door to greet us (sometimes just to quickly sneakily escape, hmm), but it was clearly bad timing!
as expected, she “KHHHHHHH”-ed and “HSSSSS”-ed as the stray responded similarly. i shut the door close after trying to push her paw back inside.
there i stood, helplessly, deep down inside scared and terrified, paranoia kicking over me with questions like, “what if it has fleas” and, “what if i open the door and it just rushes into the house and runs upstairs and jumps around and i can’t catch it alone and..,”, one hand with a huge plastic bag filled with nasi ayam and sup bungkus, another holding my house keys and phone.
i couldn’t bother ag because it was clearly prayer time, and i had no knowledge of what to do as the stray kept circling around me, bumping its head and gliding around.
i tried pushing it with my leg, and it just quickly came back to me. i tried walking it away, all the way to the other side of my neighbourhood row in the hot sun, but it was still trailing me. even back home!
i had no other choice but to call the one person i knew (other than ag) who has ample of experiences with cats and strays- Adilah!
“Adee, help me” i whimpered as she picked up the call.
i then explained to her everything, and she laughed. i facetimed her, showing her how desperate the stray cat was, and how clingy it seems to be.
“Adee, help, it’s following me everywhere, i tak tau what to do, i can’t enter the house, sifoo’s waiting for me inside, sifoo doesn’t want to be friends with this kitty, and this kitty just won’t get off me,” i trembled.
“what if you carry it and put it on your car while you quickly open the door?” she suggested.
i tried it out.
swiftly (ha ha), it jumped off my swift and came back to continue its leg reign.
“its not working adee, i letak, dia boleh lompat do!”
she laughed, but still thinking how to help her useless-with-kitties-aside-from-her-own-pet-cat friend.
“i nampak ada bakul kat tepi your pintu. try putting it inside the bakul and cover it for a while?”
desperate-me did the very thing she’d instructed me to do to the desperate-cat. it worked!
i quickly rushed into the house, got up, dropped everything, opened the back door and made sure sifoo played only around the kitchen area, grabbed a packet of wet catfood, ran back down to see the already-escaped desperate cat that was waiting for me right in front of my door, opened the packet of food and quickly mashed everything up before i brought it slightly further away from the door to feed it.
i then obviously ran back inside and watched the poor stray munching on the food i gave it, desperately and quickly. its tail was shivering, and so was its body. i’d take that it hadn’t eaten anything since the last time ag’d fed it. after a while, the stray kitty just.. left.
after all that hassle, it left?! not even a thank you. rude! manners, young man/lady, where are your manners?!
from this experience though, i’d have to say that i can’t come up with any conclusion that’s positive or nurturing. i still can’t overcome my fear of stray cats. no matter how loving some may be, no matter how clean or tame it may be, i still sadly, can’t.
however. perhaps one positive point that could be, is that no matter how much you dislike something, you’ll eventually learn to love it one way or another. in terms of this stray cat episode, i still can’t seem to fancy stray cats, but i suppose they’re just like any cats, just like how humans are still humans regardless of their lifestyle.
i can’t just be afraid of strays my whole life. it’s like being afraid of other humans that might have infectious diseases without wanting to approach it in a manner that may prevent me from being infected or in a manner that might help overcome the disease.
there’s always a way to tango, and so. i suppose one day i’ll find my way to tango with strays as how you should find a way to tango with anything you’re afraid of or uncomfortable with.