Friday, April 15, 2011

Star and Noir: Two Special Cats

Noir and Star. When Noir died, apparently he was missing an eye. In the picture I took a couple days before he died, the shadows make him look like he has only one eye...

What's a relationship without trust, right?  Trust takes time, patience, and care to build. Once built, it's sturdy and worth holding on to, and yet the slightest deception can lead to it's downfall. I simply want to share a rather intriguing story regarding two very special cats, Star and Noir, who allowed me more insight into the nature of trust.

Mother (Pregnen) with kitten (Halo)
In my temporary home, up in the hills, I've encountered numerous stray cats. At first I simply acknowledged their existence. That was the extent of our relationship. I already have a beautiful blue-point himalayan persian, 14 years old (or is he 15? He's just old), healthy as can be, and the reason for my allergies. Sterling has his own room that I rarely visited, until I started to become more than mere acquaintances with the stray cats. Over time as I fed and observed them, I learned their different personalities. Suddenly they just weren't flea-ridden cowards that scurried off the moment they heard a sound (mind you, I don't detest cats. I think they're cute. I just find their paranoia funny), they were uniquely fascinating.  Animals have stories, too.

During the rainy season all the cats huddled close to keep warm. Noir and his brother and sister, Oreo and Spry, snuggled, all curled up, on the wooden bench outside. They formed a furry bundle safe from the cold raindrops and sharp wind. As kittens, they played,  jumped about and ran around in a game that resembled tag, but with a twist. The musketeers ate, slept, and played together.

Noir was especially close to Spry. When I poured food into their bowls, he would walk out from his hiding place, look back, and meow. Spry upon hearing him would emerge and join him to eat, then they lay side by side. Their bond grew when a car knocked down Oreo.

But it wasn't long before Spry, the beautiful calico, too, was knocked down. Noir was left with no one to give him warmth. As I poured the food into the bowls, he would look at the spot where she usually came from,  and meow. Eventually he realized he was alone. He sought the affection of the other cats. He would rub against Gorda or Tuxedo, or meow to any cat near him. Many fluffled their tails, arched their backs, and slashed out at him. Others simply hissed at him and  ignored his meows, which strangely sounded more like cries. Soon Pretty Face, a gold cat with a tail striped with white, started harassinng him, not letting him near the food,and hissing at him.
Shy little Marshmallow

One rainy windy day when he looked up at Gorda and Tuxedo curled up on the bench, he meowed to them. They ignored him, and he went to a corner, where he stayed, all wet and alone. It wasn't long before he moved himself farther and farther away from our house and hid somewhere up the road in the bushes. As I walked the dogs, he would run down the road meowing to me. It's as if he knew he was safe when we were around. I remember calling my mother out of the house so she would greet him and take him to the food. All the while he meowed.

Seeing how he constantly surveyed his surroundings as he ate, I sat outside with him. He meowed to me and ate peacefully. I took pictures of him. In some of the pictures he appeared to have only one eye. Strange and sad, I thought.  Eventually I grew accustomed to sitting outside and watching him eat. Even after he finished, I still sat outside for a bit. His melodious meow never stopped. He seemed to enjoy my company. He would try to come near me, meow, and then move back again. He meowed a lot. His meow sounded desperate and sorrowful. I've never encountered a cat who meowed that frequently. 

One night my mother and I decided to take Koko for a walk. It was pitch black so we carried a flashlight.
Walking up the hill I jumped at a sudden noise, a meow, and at a flash of black. It was Noir. He had waited for us. I sat by him as he ate and stayed outside a little longer with him. As he ate, I tried to touch him, but he drew back. I tried again, and he didn't draw back nearly as much. Soon he ate unconcerned about whether or not I touched him, though sometimes he would look up.

He would make a good house cat. He needs someone to love him.

If only I could get him used to the human touch. Then he would never be alone.

Tiger
The next morning my mother told me she went to find Noir, knowing that he would be hiding in the bushes. Pretty Face had finally managed to force Noir far away from us. She told my step-father, "Look there he is." She pointed up the road. There he was. A shadow upon the gravel.

But he wasn't moving. The gravelled road was splattered with his blood. He was missing an eye. Just like my picture.

After my step-father buried Noir, I could not stop pondering over the tragic life Noir led. Furthermore, if I hadn't observed them I would never have cared about the relationships cats build with each other. They have their own society, though clearly not as intricate or evolved as human society. I couldn't get his meow out of my head. None of the other cats' demise affected me as much as his. I felt a strange bond with him that I had never felt with my own persian. I started spending more time with Sterling thanks to Noir, even if it means getting Benadryl wasted.

Then I met Star. Star has a dark gray stripped coat with patches  of orange. She grew up with Pengui, Tiger, and Patches. Pretty Face, the territorial monster, drove Pengui away, and eventually Tiger and Patches moved farther away, to the front of the house. We place bowls of cat food at the front of the house and in the back. Eventually Star, too, was left alone.

She didn't meow as much as Noir, actually she didn't quite know how to meow. Her meows sounded more like a choked back scream, and sometimes when she opened her mouth to meow, no sound came. She lounged around and preoccupied herself with exploring, sleeping, or eating. If Pretty Face came around, she hid, but was never fearful enough to desert the area. Sometimes she drank pool water. In time, she grew accustomed to me bringing out food and would greet me at the door.

Could I do for her what I failed to do for Noir?

I went back inside and got a piece of ham. I threw it her way. She ran, but not too far, before she turned around and smelled the honeyed-ham. It took a long time, days actually, before she eventually took it from my hand. But soon she knew I was not a threat. Now she's not afraid to be petted. She meows (yes, she meows now!) as if demanding her piece of ham. She's not even afraid of our yorkies (but who would be, really?) She'll jump on the lounge chair and sniff my hands for ham and start purring, her little paws kneading the soft cushion. She'll raise a paw almost as if to put it on my lap, but withdraw and continue kneading the cushions. Her claws remain withdrawn once near me. I think I've made a new friend. Maybe she's a ham-addict now, but at least she's not alone. She shows affection to all the cats, even if they show her none. I learned that if I train them to stay near, then they won't stray as far and will live longer. So far from all that have been trained, none have died. :)

Jedi, a striped cat, now follows in the steps of Star. He is far from affectionate, but he comes when called, will come near you, will eat from your hand, and so on. However, he has a habit of slashing out at times, but now he keeps his claws withdrawn. Gemini is not as shy either, and Marshmallow is coming out of her shell as well. They love the Temptation treats, except Marshmallow. Jedi sometimes gets moody and prefers ham, haha.

The Village of Cats:

Gorda: the obese and surprisingly atheltic cat. Absolutely no other cat can mess with her.
Spry: A beautiful calico who unforunately got hit by a car. A fate that befell her two brothers, Oreo and Noir (R.I.P.)
Oreo:  Black and white and a bit awkward looking. He got hit by a car (R.I.P.)
Tuxedo: my crackhead. He was always on the run and terrified of the other cats. He was very friendly and always meowing his lungs out for food. (R.I.P)
Negrito: A cat black as night. He would climb the palm tree next to the house and jump on the roof. There would be a loud clatter that's terrifying  if you're inside the house. It was a relief to know that all that noise wasn't someone trying to break  into the house  but Negrito. He, however, had a difficult time figuring out how to get back down. (R.I.P).
Mami: She's rather ugly and looks aged. She can be very aggressive. Loves treats.
Pregnen: She's the slut of all the cats. Always pregnant. A good mother to her kittens, though. Very pretty cat.
Jedi, the bad boy

Pengui- The penguin. Very friendly until Pretty Face-- the bully--ran him off. (R.I.P.)
Pretty Face- The village bully. Chased away almost all the cats. He's calmed down finally after getting a beating from Mustachio. He's also afraid of Gorda (she is fat enough to squash him)
Mustachio: Black and white, looks like he has a mustache. Don't know too much about him.
Sylvester: Weird looking cat. Hence the name. One eye is bigger than the other and his face looks like a cartoon.
Patches: Pretty paranoid calico. Another crackhead. She always hangs out with her brother, Tiger.
Tiger: Patches' brother. He's always arching his back and tries to act all fierce.. Tiger, I'm sorry to break it to you, but you're not a real tiger.
Gemini: Mostly white but his face is both black and white...split down the middle that way
Jedi: The next cat I'm training. He's brave and curious.
Star: A very smart cat. Gray fur. Tiger stripes. Hint of orange.
Marshmallow: Mostly white, but with more black patches than Gemini



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Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

2 comments:

  1. This is amazingly written and I am in awe with all you do for these cats. :)

    ReplyDelete