Friday, November 13, 2009

Nisbo: my husband's feline first wife

Sharon Bakar from Bibliobuli, Malaysia's premier book blog, is as nuts about cats as I am but hardly ever gets to write about them. So today she is guest-blogging here. Enjoy!

Ellen very kindly invited me to come guest post on her blog knowing that I am another person besotted with cats. I’ve been owned by them for most of my life. At present we share our lives with two cats and I thought I’d write about just one of them.

My husband calls her his first wife, and they gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes for hours before curling up together to sleep wherever she chooses. He steams fish and poaches chicken for her, buys her favourite foods in tiny tins, but completely forgets to ask me if I’ve eaten. I just don’t get a look in any more.

The worst of it is, I knew she was a floozy the first time I laid eyes on her, sitting under my car and flanked by the two boy cats. She was a young tortoiseshell, with a white bib and paws, and the biggest green eyes. She also had the most flirtatious manner, talked a lot, and seemed to have a loud opinion on everything.
The boy cats invited her inside to share their food. Their motives were not altogether altruistic, but she did not seem to want to play their game.

When no-one in the neighbourhood claimed her, I tried to find her a home. I put adverts up in the pet shops and even advertised her on writing e-groups I belonged to as a creative muse that no author could afford to be without. But no-one took the bait and she was in the house to stay.

She needed a name. Abu called her Nisbo – after a favourite rugby commentator on ESPN since the sport is the other love of his life.

Not everyone was pleased with the new arrangement. We were already a five cat household (not willingly, but who can refuse a home to a cat who wanders in and has no place else?) and the hierarchy of relationships was firmly established. She did her best to upset it all. She bullied the tom cats, slapping them smartly about the face when they got too fresh.

She wasn’t able to tussle the venerable Muffin for supremacy in the house, but Bear, the timid black cat I’d rescued from a drain in Taman Tun, was petrified. She took to the tops of the kitchen cupboards until Nisbo followed her up there and fixed the evil eye on her. Then she fled the house altogether and for months took to living in the neighbour’s garden, until eventually an uneasy truce was reached. Our little black and white cat, Chiki, crept past her at all times, belly close to the ground, like a commando snaking through a minefield in an exaggerated pantomime of distress.

But then Nisbo began to fall sick. A mystery stomach infection almost cost her her life. She screamed with pain when sores began to develop at the corners of her mouth, and she had gum infections that would not heal, no matter how many courses of expensive antibiotics and steroids were thrown at them. We asked time and time again what was the diagnosis, what was the cure, and none of the vets we went to could answer us despite the fact that we the bills were mounting. Three of our other cats – the two boys and Bear, began to show the same symptoms and then rapidly lost weight and died.

As you may have guess by now, Nisbo had brought something else into the house though – a slow moving disease called FIV – Feline Immune Deficiency virus, sometimes called Feline Aids, which now affects a large proportion of the stray cats on the streets of this country. Sadly, as far as I know no research has been carried out in Malaysia to find out which strain is affecting cats here and thus whether vaccination would help. And many pet owners I’m sure are completely unaware of the nature of the disease, as we were.

We had Chiki tested too, and she also turned out to be infected with FIV. But it was a relief to at least know what we were up against.

We now seem to have the disease under control in our cats with a steroid called Prednisone and by keeping a very careful watch on our friends’ health and making sure they eat well. With any luck they should be able to live long and healthy lives.

So if Nisbo ends up getting spoiled, perhaps I shouldn’t get too jealous. She’s been through a great deal over the years and I think deserves some extra loving now. She’s a good friend to me too, and I enjoy our conversations in the kitchen, with her perched on the top of the fridge, grumbling about a cold belly every time I open the ice compartment.

And she plays a very useful role in making all human visitors to our home feel welcome and showing just how endearing cats, even the sick ones, can be.

Hope you enjoyed this guest Katz Tale. See you on Monday for the Writer's post that will discuss media galleries and on Tuesday for more cat stories. Also, do please take look at my new books Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw and Logomania: Where Common Phrases Come From And How To Use Them.

Plus, I've changed my Twitter address and am now tweeting only about cats at KatzTalesTweets. Follow me and let me know where you are so I can follow you?


book collection said...

are u cat holic?

Cheyenne -Millie said...

I love to look into my mom's eyes.... I sit on the chair and just stare at her for long periods of time!

We are sorry some of you were/are sick.

Kitikata-san said...

I am sorry the cutie pie has FIV. There is virtually no strides in research here in the USA either.

Adline Writes said...

I didn't know about FIV until I read your article, thanks Sharon. I'm sorry you lost your cats, but I'm glad Nisbo is better.

Anonymous said...

she's so purr-ty! doesn't even look like a bully.

yeah, there's something irresistible about cats.

- siew eng

Anonymous said...

Dear Author !
In my opinion you commit an error. I can defend the position.

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Ellen Whyte said...

Anon: I prefer if you quote the first few lines and then offer a link to my page. And then I'll link to you on my main page - if you send me your web site/blog link...