Monday, April 30, 2012

Au Speaks Out: I Am 14 Tomorrow!

Au as a baby office manager
tomorrow i shall be 14 years old. it is my offishul birthday bekos de survunt and de male can't remember de exact date dat i graced their home wif my presence.

also, i was rescued so dey aren't sure how old i was when i arrived - eksept dat i could sit in de survunt's hand - my tayul included!

de survunt says dere will be ham, rost chikkun and some treats for all of us tomorrow.  it does not sound different from other days.
Baby Au and Scoop having breakfast
wot is different is dat de survunt is singing to me.

today she is singing Happy Unbirthday To You.  and tomorrow she will sing Happy Birthday.

de survunt sings like a kat and i don't mean dis is as a kompliment.

you'd better all send me treats to make up for dis.

PS A note from De Survunt:  rather than leave you struggling for the lyrics of the Unbirthday Song from Alice in Wonderland here they are:

Au in his downstairs box yesterday
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party where the Unbirthday Song is sung.
A very merry unbirthday to me

To who?

To me!

Oh you!

A very merry unbirthday to you

Who me?

Yes, you!

Oh, me!

Let's all congratulate us with another cup of tea
A very merry unbirthday to you!

Now, statistics prove, prove that you've one birthday

Imagine, just one birthday every year

Ah, but there are three hundred and sixty four unbirthdays!

Precisely why we're gathered here to cheer

A very merry unbirthday to you, to you

To me?

To you!

A very merry unbirthday

For me?

For you!

Now blow the candle out my dear
And make your wish come true

A merry merry unbirthday to you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guido Is Growing Up

On Saturday I was woken just after 5AM by a high pitched scream. Stumbling downstairs, I saw Guido had brought in a bat.  Luckily he turned to me and said a polite, "Meow" at which the bat flew into the indoor garden.

It was unharmed so we let it find it's way back outside.

Yesterday Guido brought in a common fence lizard (thanks Nature Malaysia for helping me identify it!) Again, it was unharmed. Guido has the gentle mouth of a Labrador.

Au was dancing with excitement.  He wanted to keep it as a pet, but I took it outside and put it in a nearby field.

The lizard was only about 30 cm long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail but the ungrateful little slink tried to bite me and he had a good go at clawing me too. Luckily I had him firmly wrapped in a serviette so he did no harm.

After these incidents I went to talk to Guido. As long as he does no harm it's OK but if he does start killing, he'll have to wear a collar and a bell.

When I went to tell him so, he was sitting on the kitchen floor, kissing a hugely disappointed Au. He gave me a look that said, "Traitor" and the words died on my lips.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rescuing Rosie

As many of you have asked me all about the sick kitty, and I only have space for 1 Katz Tale in The Star a month, I've written up Rosie's story and am offering it for free. Enjoy!

Rescuing Rosie
A Katz Tale By Ellen Whyte

One of my secret pleasures is to go for a hair wash. I've got a nice salon near me that throws in a mini massage so I come out feeling relaxed and looking as sleek as an Afghan hound.

So there I was, sneaking off on a Sunday afternoon in glorious anticipation of a good time, when a little cat appeared at the bottom of our road. As I slowed down for him, I could see he was hurt. His whole side was bloody.

When I pulled over and got out, the little cat took refuge under a parked car. I lay on the street, took one look, and raced for the house. I'd seen such damage before but only in pictures. Someone had thrown boiling water over this little fur.

T-man, my partner in life and all round good egg, has the advantage of being brought up on a farm. He came out and pronounced the cat to be a serious state but no infection.

While we crawled around on the street, an elderly lady came out. She told us the cat was a stray, and that the injury had happened a day or so before.

We couldn't get to the cat so I did the next best thing: I got my camera, took some shots, and went to see the vet. Dr Baz looked, exclaimed, and gave me some super duper antibiotics. He refused to let me pay too, the darling.

I went home, ground up a pill in some aromatic tuna and chicken cat food, and went to the car where the kitty was hiding. I put the bowl down and backed off. There was an instant of silence, and then the sound of hurried chomping and slurping.

Two minutes later, a black girl cat came out followed by a good looking blue eyed cat with a grey mask and ears. The medicated food was gone but I had a handful of biscuits with me as backup. The two other kitties made a meal of those, and I realized I had just adopted 3 stray cats.

The next morning the black girl was friendly and greeted me with loud meows while the sick kitty hid under the car. The blue-eyed cat distinguished himself by rushing over and clawing me over the knuckles so that I would drop the bowl of cat food. I named him Mugger, and upped his biscuit ration.

Over the next week I made two trips a day to medicate and feed the cats. I had only met one or two of the people at the end of our street before but trudging down there twice a day introduced me to the other residents.

What was cheerful was that everyone expressed shock at that poor cat's plight. As one new friend put it, "It makes me feel creepy that someone in our neighbourhood could do such a thing." Another lady who came out to see why I was crawling about under her car burst into tears when I pointed out the sick little cat.

We all speculated on who could have done it but we couldn't identify a culprit for certain. Some new friends pointed the finger at the workers who are renovating a house near us. However, as these kindly men demanded daily updates on how the sick kitty was doing, and I saw them sharing their rice and curry with the strays too, I pointed out that was most unlikely.

I thought, and still think, it's the work of a foreign maid who feels frustrated and unrecognized, or of an elderly person who has the old-fashioned belief that animals are objects with no souls or feelings.

While the culprit remained a mystery, the sick kitty slowly began to trust me. At first he darted out from under the car, and then darted back into the safety of the darkness again. Then he became brave and stood on the street, eating out of the bowl while I stood a few steps back. Finally he ate out of the bowl while I held it.

Now I was allowed to come close, I could see the wound was improving. The layers of dermis were thickening and there was no sign of infection thanks to Dr Baz's wonderful medicine. But the damage was so great, that I knew this little cat needed professional help if he were to heal properly.

Unfortunately I couldn't pick him up. I didn't want to frighten him. I had to be patient.

When a month had passed, the little cat allowed me to rub his ears. Then I was allowed to rub his good side. Emboldened, I brought my cat carrier along to one of our breakfasts. My furry friend took one look and bolted.

I thought this a small setback and was prepared to be patient but suddenly, in the space of 24 hours, the little cat seemed to sink. He missed two meals and came back looking sad and sorry.

As it was a Monday morning and everyone was at work I alerted my neighbour Jett who works from home like me. He helped me crawl under various cars but our effort at catching the little cat proved useless. Convinced he was in real trouble, I was in despair.

At this point another neighbour, Umi, volunteered to take a turn. She and her husband are very fond of cats. They feed the strays that live in their back lane, have a tribe of indoor cats, and also provide a home for our last rescue Cole the Tuxie cat.

Umi borrowed our cat carrier, set up a dish of food inside, backed off and carefully lulled our sick friend into a sense of security. On the third day he entered the box for his breakfast, Umi crept up on him and shut the door.

This was last Sunday, six weeks to the day we first spotted him.

Concerned that this cat might not make it, and in the false belief that I could distance myself from too much hurt, I had carefully refrained from naming him. But Umi had no such reticence; she informed me that she'd called him Rosie.

I must admit that when I first saw this cat, I thought he was a girl until T-man pointed out that the kitty had man-parts. Umi laughed when she realized but we decided to let the name slide for the moment. The most important thing was to get Rosie into hospital.

The moment Dr Baz opened his clinic, we were on his doorstep. There was nobody there so we went straight in. When I put the carrier on the table, Rosie was sitting at the back, growling furiously. I was armed in a thick work shirt, and I had gloves and a towel with me too.

Convinced the gloves would freak Rosie out, I left them off and gently moved the towel around the cat. He let me edge him out of the box, and all look well until the surgery door jangled and a pack of girls came in with a doggy patient.

Quick as a flash, Rosie turned around in his skin, slashed a claw into my thumb, and shot off into the dispensary behind us.

Getting him back into the box was a nightmare.

At first Rosie jammed himself behind the dispensary fridge. Dr Baz tried to inject him with tranquilizer but the instant Rosie felt the needle in his bum, he levitated, turned about in the air, and dived under a counter. Not a drop of dope went in.

As Rosie was hissing like a fiend, we stepped back and decided to give him time to calm down. Dr Baz went off to treat the dog and I kept an eye on the cat.

For the next hour, I tried getting Rosie into the cage. As he was wedged into a corner, I put the cage in front of him, and then tapped the wall, hoping Rosie would move forward and into the box. He didn't.

Then I rolled up a newspaper, and gently moved it towards Rosie's tail. I hoped it would propel him forward and into the cage - but it didn't. Rosie just sat put, hissing like a python.

When Dr Baz was done with the dog, he tried using his "dangerous dog" pole. However, Rosie just pawed the loop away from his face whenever it came near. While this confirmed cats are much more forward-thinking than dogs, it was frustrating!

Each time we came close to him, Rosie would launch a hissing, spitting attack. Eventually I came up with a cunning plan that would take advantage of this.

While Dr Baz went off to inoculate some puppies, I put on the heavy-duty gloves and wrapped a towel lightly around my arm. I made sure the cage was in front of Rosie, and that he couldn't avoid running into it if he moved. Then I picked up the rolled up newspaper and edged it towards the cat with one hand while I put my gloved and toweled arm in front of Rosie.

Rosie reacted just as I hoped. He launched himself at my arm, fixed all of his claws into the towel, and bit and clawed for all he was worth. In one smooth move, I moved my arm into the cage and gently dumped the cat, the towel and the glove into the bottom. Then I closed the door.

For a few seconds Rosie lay on the floor of the cage, venting his rage on the towel. Then he realized what I'd done. He lay still for a second, and then yowled at me. His language was appalling. But I was glad to see he wasn't running wild in the cage and hurting himself. Sensible in defeat, Rosie lay still and swore furiously.

It had taken me 90 minutes to get Rosie into the cage but despite all the drama, all I had to show for it was a single claw puncture - the one Rosie gave me right at the beginning of his fight for freedom.

The rest was simple. While Dr Baz attended the patients in his clinic, I went home and had a soothing shower and some lunch. Then I returned to find Rosie already sedated and under the knife.

Much to my surprise Dr Baz was very pleased with the look of the wound. He said it was clean, the Rosie was otherwise in good nick, and that once the whole thing was stitched, Rosie would be ok. He estimated it would take about 10 days. I called Umi and listened to her cry as I gave her the good news. I didn't shed a tear. Honest.

As the surgery was full, and it takes two people to stitch a cat up, I bravely volunteered to assist. While I held the skin together with some fearsome looking technical implements, Dr Baz stitched. Thankfully, about 3 stitches into the job, Mrs Dr Baz came in. She knows how squeamish I am, and I was terribly grateful to see her take over.

In the end it took some 30 stitches to patch Rosie up. We decorated her with a lampshade to prevent her from chewing her wound, and set her back in the cage.

The recovery period posed some problems. I can't have Rosie in my home as Au, Target and Guido are vehemently opposed to feline boarders, and Umi has her own tribe at home who feel the same way. Malaysia is nice and warm 24C day and night but we didn't want Rosie to stuck in a cage outside either. It's just too stressful.

Luckily we have great friends and some excellent local facilities. I called our friend Za who runs a super salt water aquarium shop and who has a room at the back with rescued strays up for adoption. We set Rosie's cage in there, and left him to unwind.

We also renamed him Ross but for some reason the name hasn't stuck. Our poor boy is likely saddled with a girl's name for life.

Being at Za's is the best thing for Rosie because Za has a magic touch with cats. Within 24 hours Rosie let her pet his ears. By next week he'll be cuddly. Then of course I'm going to show up and take him to the vet to have his stitches out, and be neutered and vaccinated to boot.

Although I can't say I like being hissed at, I'm prepared to be the bad person here, just as Za laughing says she's willing to play the good one. What's important is to get Rosie back into shape.

We've also settled on his future. Rosie is a young cat, possibly 18 months or 2 years old, but as he has been on the streets and has had such a bad time, he's an unlikely prospect for rehoming. Also, there are shelters as well as independent rescuers like Zaa who have dozens if not hundreds of socialized pets looking for a home.

I took a poll of the neighbours at the end of the road to ask them how they viewed Rosie and his two stray pals. They agreed that if I have them all neutered and vaccinated, and that if I am responsible for feeding them, they won't mind the cats living there.

The one caveat is that we've capped the TNR crowd at 3 cats; anyone else coming in will have to be handed over to the SPCA - and most likely that would be the end of them.  But I digress...

Our plan therefore is to put Rosie back on the street when he's fully recovered. It's not ideal but it's the best solution I can think of. Also, I'm not alone because Umi has agreed to help.

Once Rosie is out, the black girl is our next venture. As she should be simple to deal with, I am putting my effort into a longterm campaign to get Mugger into the clinic. He's a tough baby and very suspicious so this is going to take some doing.

Wish me luck?

PS As Rosie still looks awful, there will be no photos till next week. Instead here's a pic of Mugger and a pal who dropped by for a free lunch.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

LIM: Politics, Religion and Racism

We enjoy living in Malaysia because there’s always something exciting going on. It’s very different from living in Europe and America (our early homes) and I guess that’s why we find it interesting.

To give you some idea of how life is here, take a look at some indexes that describe general country attitudes.

Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI):
This is an annual ranking of countries by their perceived levels of corruption, or "the misuse of public power for private benefit.”

Malaysia ranked 60th with a score of 4.3
UK ranked 16th  with a score of 7.8
US ranked 24th with a score of 7.1
Spain ranked 31st with a score of 6.2
Netherlands ranked 7th with a score of 8.9
Countries close to Malaysia's score: South Africa at 4.1 and Naminia at 4.4

Check here for your country: link

Power Distance Index:
This measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.  In other words, how some people are more equal than others!

Malaysia 104
UK 35
US 40
Spain 57
Netherlands 38
Countries close to Malaysia's score: Russia 93 and Slovakia 104

Check here for your country: link

The Worldwide press freedom index:
Surveys direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against the free press, such as non-governmental groups.

Malaysia ranked 122 with a score of 56, along with Algeria and Tajikistan
UK ranked 28 with a score of 2
US ranked 47, with a score of 14
Spain ranked 39, with a score of 9 and three quarters.
Netherlands ranked 3 with a score of minus 9, along with Estonia

Check here for your country: link

Given these indicators, you can imagine how much gossip there is in the pubs and coffee shops! 

If you want to get away from corruption, politics and racism, you read Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw.  If you want to dive into the mire, you might take a look at Kee Thuan Chye's latest book, No More Bullshit, Please, We're All Malaysians

Kee Thuan Chye is a dramatist and journalist who discusses local political issues without fear or favour.  He's passionate, thought provoking, and doesn't mind if you disagree with him - he enjoys a good ding-dong battle of wits.

Katz Tales by Ellen Whyte Book front cover imageThis collection of articles covers the last few years where we've been seeing some exciting changes in local politics.  As you might have guessed from the Freedom of the Press Index, most articles were originally published online by what we call "alternative media".  Even if you've read them, this is a chance to see everything at once, and beautifully presented and edited too.

If you live here, it's fun to reread the reactions to various scandals and hot issues.  If you don't live here, it's a good insight into how Malaysia works.  I am convinced that future historians and other researchers will use this book as a guide to the spirit of this time.

Check out No More Bullshit, Please, We're All Malaysians, price RM39, in local bookshops, and while you're there, buy a copy of Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw, Price RM28,  too! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guido: I Have A Job!

I have a Job!

This is me gearing up for Work with my assistant and friend Mahlou who comes twice a week to help me in my new Career.

Yes, All Clear and Serene from this angle!

Now I am making sure the sheets are properly Whooshed About. (This is a Technical Term)

Yes, a nice fresh Scent.  We can add Decorative Fur later tonight. 

Another check because you Can't Be Too Careful About Quality.

And afterwards a nap on the sofa because us Bed
Making Inspectors have a furry exhausting job.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Second Chances

That sick kitty is back, and although he's looking rough, he pounced on his medicated food this morning and afterwards filled up on biscuits. 

He is eating out of the bowl I hold for him but as soon as I raise a hand to pet him, he's off.  He is making it clear that I may NOT take touch him because he knows I want to take him to the vet. 

The thing we all desire is control, and letting go isn't easy (esp for me!) but as making a grab for him will chase him away for another week, and that means no meds, I have to abide by the sick kitty's rules.  Mind you, I plan to be cunning and patient.  Maybe he'll learn to trust me more and then I can take him in.  In the meantime, meds in his food is all he'll accept.

On the home front I am getting a lot of pleasure from watching Target pick a new best napping spot.  His constant favourites are my desk, my lap, and my pillow but he's now trying out the place in front of the TV and the corner of the coffee table where I keep the books I'm reading downstairs.

It means he's always in view (sometimes watching TV is like having Mystery Science Theater 3000 in our home) and underhand (I read 3 or 4 books at a time so he gets squizzles whenever I change over to another title) which is something that appeals to Target.
Guido is also developing some interesting new habits.  He will tell you about that himself on Wednesday.

See you during the week! 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Second Guessing Decisions

That sick cat in our road who was attacked by some fiend in human form isn't doing so well.  He looked a bit off on Saturday but ate his food with gusto.  Then yesterday evening he decided he wasn't hungry.  It was the same deal this morning.

I have been giving him food with medicine provided by the vet on the basis of a photograph of his wound because at first I couldn't get near the cat.  It took me 2 weeks to get him to come within reach of me. 

In the last week he was letting me come close to him and touch his uninjured side.  He was getting better too.  The wound was clean, healing and the kitty was putting on weight visibly. 

Now suddenly he's taking a bad turn and ironically he is now sitting under a car *just* out of reach.  I just tried to catch him with the help of a neighbour but we had no luck. 

I have this terrible feeling that this cat is not going to make it.  I hope this is a temporary setback but my second thoughts are already busy with second guessing myself:

If I had scooped him up last week when he looked as if he was on the mend, would a visit to the vet have helped?  I didn't do it because I thought being boxed up, driven away and handled by people might undo all the good of the weeks before. I worried he might make the injury worse during the trip and refuse to come near me and his medicated food afterwards. 

It's no good worrying because there's not much I can do except for hope and try again to reach him later.  But it is depressing. I really thought this cat was going to make it.  Please purr for him.

I wont show you a picture of the cat as the wound makes for upsetting viewing.  Instead, to cheer you all up (and me!) here's a picture of Guido doing his best Cat On Guard Duty impression.