Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Tabby

Tabby accommodates Julius while one of her kittens looks on.

Ragdolls are invariably white-furred, blue-eyed amiable cats -- like Tabby in the photo above. An orange stray is suckling hungrily, minutes after the kitten was picked up in a street corner. Tabby is the only mother cat of any breed in our home who is willing to succor any kitten in distress. And this is not the first time she has saved a kitten thrown to die, either by hunger, exposure to the elements, or to be squashed under the wheel of a passing car. People can be cruel if they are ignorant. I like animals more than people.

Back to Tabby and the new foundling, which, due to his orange color, has been named Julius. Tabby -- named after Stephen King's wife, Tabitha -- has given birth to five kittens almost two months ago, but that doesn't matter -- any kitten of any breed, color or origin is welcome to join her brood anytime. In the photo, one of her kids is looking on as Julius clings to his adoptive mother.

Julius' hunger is not limited to milk; he also needs the comfort and warmth of a mother's presence. A squeaky meow indicates that Tabby is away from his side. So, sometimes Julius, eyes still unopened, will crawl until he finds a warm body to cling on. Tabby's kids, who turn two-month-old today (2011 March 20), have acquired the amiability and gentleness inherent to Ragdolls; they let Julius cuddle them.

Julius climbs on his new "brother" for warmth.

This is not the first time Tabby has succored and saved other cat's child. I remember April 2009, when Eric, a friend, brought a baby Ragdoll to us because the kit's mother could not produce milk. Eric came to us, hoping to find a way to save the feeble kitten, which was already weak from starvation.

Here is Leena's account of the incident:

"I hoped that our Tabby, who recently gave birth to three healthy kittens, will succor a fourth. If not, it’s just a matter of a few hours before the weak Ragdoll dies. Hoping fervently, I placed the scrawny kitten’s fate before Tabby.

Without hesitation, Tabby nipped the kitty’s nape and added it among her brood. The small one, eyes still closed, instinctively found a teat and sucked weakly as we watched. A few minutes later we relaxed a bit when the baby continued feeding. At least a spark was kindled.

A few days later, our tiny refugee was crawling about the room. We gained something precious – this world, so sordid, could not be so intolerable if from time to time it allows a spluttering life to go on.

Then the allotted weeks passed, and the kitten opened an eye. We waited for the other eye to open, but it remained shut. When Eric visited his kitten, he was elated to see the improvement. When he saw the closed/open eyes, he said the lovely rascal looked like a bandit." (So the survivor's name became Bandit -- a cute bandit who stole our heart.)

Then in October 2009, Ondoy devastated Metro Manila, including our neighborhood. Two days after the super-typhoon, Leena found three newborn kittens thrown in front of a pastor's house. Naturally the three became a part of our household. And Tabby, who had just given birth to six kittens a few days earlier, tried to bring one of them to add to her brood. But that is another story.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In the eyes of a child

Cute boy and painting by child prodigy Hamzah Marbella
In the eyes of a child
the world is young, where play
and slumber have no hurried pace.
The child, like the world, is rich beyond measure
because time has no meaning,
truth is not burdened by falsehood,
a marble is gem enough, bugs and dragonflies
fill the days: happiness abounds.
Age, casually tossed into eternity's heap,
cannot exist
in the eyes of the child.

--William the Henry