CAT WOMAN

“Cat food?!? Sosyal naman ng pusang yan!*” muttered the cashier with disdain under his breath while snickering as he packed the Whiskas into a plastic carrier.

We were running low on cat food, which was catastrophic because that would mean that Cayenne and Bugsy would not have anything for dinner so my father and I made our way to SM supermarket to get a bag of dry cat food (we call them pellets).

I felt sorry for the cashier – sorry that he ever opened his mouth. My father picked up on the snicker and he wasn’t going to let it past one bit. I stayed quiet, not wanting to be in the line of fire.

“What’s your problem?” asked my father in that deep, low voice that would have sent even Hades crawling back to the underworld.

“Uh, Sir, ahh… err… I…” stuttered the cashier whose face was turning beet red under my father’s sharp stare.

“Cats make better companions than most humans,” retorted my father, his stare never lifting from the cashier until we were out of visible range.

Cats – the domestic kind, not the feral ones – occupy a huge place in our family. Cayenne was a serendipitous arrival in our lives. The little kitten followed my sister home one day and stayed on. Cayenne, named after the pepper, has white fur with streaks of brown, and can be bossy about his meals. He’d know when my father would stir from bed early in the morning so he’d make his way up the stairs, tiptoe slowly into my parents’ room and then let out a high-pitch meow. Translated: “Hello, I’m awake and hungry. Breakfast please.” This would continue until my father walks downstairs; Cayenne will walk by his side. Cayenne also likes having his bowl filled with pellets when he wakes up from a nap or he’ll be really grumpy. His nose knows if the bowl is empty even if he’s nowhere near it.  Cayenne is snobbish. He doesn’t like our male helper and never liked our former laundry woman.  He’s not the type who would wind through the legs of his human friends to show affection.  Cayenne selects –he waits for my mum to arrive home from work, but he never waits for me. He does meow at me if I’m the only one left in the house to give him his Whiskas.

The keen sense of smell is one of the astonishing traits of cats. This is due, I read, to their well-developed olfactory bulb and the large surface of the olfactory mucosa, which, in a nutshell, is the part of the nose that allows odors to dissolve and be detected by olfactory receptor neurons. The size of the cats’ olfactory mucosa is said to be twice that of the humans, explaining why they can smell tuna and salmon a mile away.

Excellent hearing is another amazing cat trait. Compared to dogs who can hear up to only nine octaves, cats go one and a half octaves higher so there’s no getting past them because they can hear you loud and clear. In addition, cats know where the sound is coming from because of their large movable outer ears. Cats also have exceptional night vision but they’re color blind. They can only identify blue and green and can’t tell between red and green. 

Bugsy came a little later. This brown kitten also followed my sister home one afternoon and, like Cayenne, never left home. But unlike Cayenne, Bugsy was leaner and more extroverted than his brother, but frequented the veterinarian often. Sadly, we lost him a couple years ago. 

Our non- pedigreed cats have been a part of our lives for so long I seem to exude an aura alluring to cats anywhere I go. I could just imagine the cat talk: “Look! There’s cat woman! Hello food! Hello warm place to sleep in! Yippee!” Butch was this amicable tubby white cat I met when I moved into Stevens Road several years ago in Singapore. He had a habit of dropping by our flat through the door or the window and lying spread-eagle in the living room. He’d leave an hour later and walk up to his flat on the second floor.  At other times, he’d just peep in like a mother hen checking to see if everyone’s home. We were stricken with fear when he disappeared for a day because it was not in his character at all. While we were calling out his name our ailurophobe neighbors stared at us as if we had just escaped from a mental asylum. He returned the next day unscathed and, naturally, we have no idea where he went.

Like Bugsy, Butch passed away. His owner was overseas and had a close friend cat-sit when he quietly succumbed to kidney failure.

I have a new cat in Indonesia. He never came to my flat until one rainy night wet and hungry. Luckily, I had a can of tuna, which I served him. From then on, he’s now my morning call, meowing early in the morning for his breakfast pellets, and my welcoming committee at night whenever I get back from work, the gym or an outing. I call him B and remember not to get him Friskas Gourmet Flavor –he prefers Ocean or Tuna.  He’s the touchy-feely type, winding through my legs whenever he sees me. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like Bugsy except for the white booties.

My flat has come to serve as a half-way house for B’s friends who come meowing at the front door for Friskas. It seems word has gotten around that cat woman at Bougainvillea serves meals regularly – dry, wet and tuna (in brine or vegetable oil).

*Roughly translated as “That cat is so high-class!” The subtext is that they’re mere animals so they shouldn’t be fed at all. Unfortunately, most ailurophobes and those who have something against animals feel that animals should not be taken care at all.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by i_am_aoisoba on February 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    my problem now is that it always rain in ireland, the pellets i leave on the plate always get wet…oh my main problem is i don’t think they like the pelllets at all!

    Reply

    • Posted by rgarcellano on February 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Oh dear. How about trying wet cat food and see if they fancy the canned ones over the pellets? Go for tuna or salmon.

      Reply

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