A while back I wrote about Princess, a cat I had back in elementary school. To make a very long story short, one day before kindergarten, I carried a semi-feral cat from school to my house, getting scratched all the way. The part of the story I didn't tell is what happened to her and all the pets I loved.
My mother was a hoarder, which I think I've mentioned a time or two in passing. When I was fourteen, I said goodbye to the last of my pets. The social worker took me to the animal shelter where I was forced to hand over my family's nine cats and two dogs. It was better for the cats and the dogs, I knew this, but I was heartbroken to see Goddy go. We were close. He used to meet me when I came home from school. There was dresser by the door "rescued" from someones trash. He'd jump on it, stand on his hind legs and touch his nose to my cheek. It was a lovely way to be welcomed home. Saying goodbye to him was hard, but not the hardest.
The Mythological Farm for Unwanted Pets:
Pa: Some jackass from town dropped another dog/cat from their car.
Ma: Did you call animal control.
Pa: I would've but it got in the way of Mitchel's tractor and he couldn't stop.
In a house where new pets were a constant novelty until that wore off and they were re-homed to the mythological farm, ran away or died of untreated illness-- our pets did not go to a vet. Without the coming and going of animals, Princess stayed and in the end it was we who moved away. I remember fighting with my mother, saying that we couldn't just leave without her. My mother said we'd come back to get her, which I knew was a lie, but I was kid and there was nothing I could do. What I kept seeing was Princess coming home to find home empty, her prowling the empty halls, mewing pitifully. All those nights she and my mother had watched movies, sharing a bag of cheese popcorn. As much as I loved Princess, she was my mother's cat. I didn't understand how Mom could just leave Princess when so much of her junk, trip after trip, was shoehorned floor to ceiling in a storage shed in much the same way my sisters, a Guinea pg, a hamster and I were stored in the living room of my mother's boyfriend's apartment. But my mother was a junk hoarder; her emotional attachment was to inanimate things.
Anti-pet abandoning syndrome has a lot to do with why I get a pet my first year in Korea or my second, third, fourth, fifth, even though I really, really wanted one. Adopting any pet is a commitment. Adopting a pet while living abroad is a commitment and three halves. That's also why, when Bear first appeared in the school parking lot, mewing pitifully, I offered him a few scratches and went home. Actually, most days I went home without even that. But week after week, no one did. Then I went on vacation. Then I came back to work for two days and then went to Vietnam. When I got back he was still hanging around the parking lot, just as unhappy as when he had first appeared. Hestill came when called, tail up, and purred at the touch. I thought, as I had before, I might get a cat carrier and some supplied and then take him home. But I was really just procrastinating. Bear put an end to that. He sat down in front of my friend's car and refused to move.
I had thought about taking Bear home, knew what a commitment it would be, but there he was and I was suddenly afraid that one day he wouldn't be there. That he'd be hit by a car or worse. I asked my friend if it would be all right to bring him in her car. She's Korean and has a very traditional attitude toward pets: what's the point. But she's always a good friend and she knows I love animals.
Bear who wasn't Bear yet, was happy to scooped up in my arms. I didn't think he would be, but he's a nice cat. He was not so happy about the car and tried to get away. I held him by the nap of the neck an prepared to get scratched. He Mewed and mewed and calmed as long as I petted him. He was less than ecstatic about the vet who wasn't exactly happy to have a stray cat show up at his office.The vet's assistance donned thick gloves, full body armor and a fencing mask to handle the nameless cat. Just kidding; it was only the gloves.
The vet checked his ears with a scope. I must say it was the strangest vet's visit ever. The vet pretended not to see the mites, moving quickly past them and assured me I couldn't catch the cat's ear yeast.
"You don't have to worry about it."
In Korean Cats are considered vermin like mice and rats, and also edible, though less so than dogs. Some vets won't treat cats.
Anyway, I explained what I wanted: to have the cat fixed and could they give him bath? Some vets offer grooming services and well, I wanted this cat to like me. I felt hat ambivalence toward the vet is the best I can ever hope for.
The vet said okay and also that he would keep Bear overnight and gave him a bath, and woulnd't charge me to do these two things. After getting fixed and all the other things, the cat came home and has been happy as any cat can be. He loves his kitty bed, his toys, and most of all, being next to me. He hates his ear medicine. He loves his chicken snack (laced with medicine, mawahhhaaaa.) and being brushed.
This is long, so to finish up, I took Bear back to the vet's. He mewed all the way and mewed some more in the waiting room. After removing his stitches and giving him his second shot without so much as a hiss, the the vet shook his head.
"I like this cat," the vet said, expressing his confusion as to why Bear had been abandoned. "I think many people will like this cat."
I smiled. "Yeah, he's a very good boy."
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).