IT’S his standard modus operandi. That defiant stare before his beautiful light green eyes narrow into that haughty all-knowing look as he notes my mad morning scramble for my work bag. Then, with the elegant stealth of a cat (Wait. He IS a cat!), he’d swag his way slowly towards the living room door and sprawl his body on the floor, potentially blocking everyone’s path. Namely me.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about my “homebound” cat Lolo, it’s that if he doesn’t get to escape outside for his dose of fresh air, he’ll be damned if he lets anyone else out either. Although he epitomises the word “scaredy cat” so perfectly, there’s nothing he loves more than jumping onto the roof one floor down from my apartment and basking in the sun as he ponders the world’s problems — such as the stray cats wailing for food below and old ladies hanging out their morning laundry — from his lofty post above.
His crabbiness is hardly surprising as he doesn’t get to venture out to the world outside much. Not because I’m keeping him prisoner mind; just that he seems to have made a vicious enemy of another tomcat in the block by the name of Jeff. I’m merely trying to ensure that my pampered feline doesn’t end up like that overpriced cincang (shredded) cat food that he’s so fond of.
Jeff is a magnificent beast, possessing a banshee-like growl that would echo around the block whenever he’s near. If there’s such a thing as a cat whose “bark” (or should that be meow?) is worse than his bite, it’d be Jeff. And for some reason, Jeff, whom I’d estimate to be pretty ancient judging by his wise visage and ploddy nature, has decided that Lolo would be his preferred target for venting out his frustrations at having to make his home in the drains outside while Lolo basks in luxury inside.
So, every morning without fail, that “alarm” (i.e. banshee growl) would sound, growing louder and louder as Jeff nears my front door. Then, it would stop to signal his arrival. And as has become the routine for Lolo and I, we’d both find ourselves on the floor, peering furtively through the gap under the door to check on the “barricade” outside.
Lolo would turn his face towards me, a beseeching look in his eyes, as if pleading for me to do something about the menace outside. A human-cat conversation would ensue as I try to reason with him that there was no way he’d be allowed to step foot outside with Jeff standing guard. He, in turn, would return my lecture with a whimper and make his green eyes grow larger and drop his ears just like that annoying cat in Shrek, Puss in Boots. And which owner can possibly deny his\her pet anything, especially when they throw that pathetic look your way?
True to form, Lolo would get his way. And I inevitably end up engaging in a “cat fight” with the aged monster outside just so the path can be cleared for the pampered “queen” to emerge for his dose of Vitamin C.
When Lolo came to me, he was just a scrawny kitten. His owner no longer wanted to keep him. I was with friends enjoying a boisterous catch-up session over teh tarik at the local mamak when we spotted him. He looked so adorable with his shiny black coat, fluffy white belly, and “socks” on his feet, that I couldn’t resist approaching him.
The owner, a lady, immediately asked whether I’d like to take him home. And even offered RM10 for my trouble. I recall being torn, having just lost a beloved cat months earlier to cat AIDS or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). It was such a painful time that I swore I’d never have a cat again.
The slow demise of my once-beautiful female cat, whom I called Memey, was excruciating to witness. From a loving, healthy, happy cat she retreated into a sorry shell as her pretty face lost its light and the disease started to spread. In the final few days before she disappeared on us, one side of her mouth was already gone, eroded by infection; saliva dripped uncontrollably from her mouth and her gums were inflamed from gingivitis. Her once-shiny coat had turned dull and she smelt terrible. She was no longer able to clean herself or eat her food properly.
That image of Memey was in my mind when the lady offered me care of her cat. I can’t remember what it was that swayed my decision that year and a half ago, but I’m glad that I took him home. From a scrawny, playful kitten, Lolo has grown into a handsome cat, whose shiny black coat and elegant stealth never fail to elicit compliments from the neighbours whenever they see him.
He has a steady disposition and the sort of “tai tai” predispositions of his owner! Take his culinary preferences, for example. He loves broth — from an expensive brand — which would contain either anchovies or whitebait, and would rather go hungry than tuck into anything else that’s not his preferred fodder.
Oh, and he’ll only sip his water out of a white ceramic cup that’s placed on the dinner table. Where I eat. If you expect him to drink from the floor, expect to see a full cup for weeks. Should anything displease him, there’s no way you’ll miss it. That cup of water on the table? He’ll just casually push it over with his paw so that all the water will spill onto the table.
If you ever cross him, Lolo turns into the resident jackdaw. You might find yourself missing some of your precious belongings. Especially trinkets. Because he’ll steal them in the night and hide his loot under the fridge!