He was very fastidious about everything – his bed, food, drink (he likes it ice cold, not from the tap) and especially the people that came to the house. He’d stare at the guests (or guest) from his corner and, on his off days, grumble incessantly at their mere presence. It was his way of making his voice heard, of his annoyance known to the world of the invasion of his space by the interloper. And this was even though the guest was already trying everything to get on his good side. The mistake one could make was to constantly talk to him and try to get close. The effect is opposite: he would, all the more, be distant and make his great displeasure known. He was no pushover; he wasn’t going to fall for those sweet-talk. He’d rather be cat-napping or playing.

On his good days – he’s really moody – he would sit with us in the living room while we watched a movie on cable or our favourite TV show. He liked to sit beside my mum and, in fact, would wait for her to finish watching her favourite late night show. He had this habit of welcoming my mum when she got home from work, waiting until she walked through the door and off he’d go back to what he was doing, which was always wrestling with his toy or lolling in his chosen spot.

Like me, he had a routine and was a stickler for rules. When he woke up he expected his snack to be ready, which should be accompanied by cold water (cold coconut juice would do well too every now and then). He also had to have his blanket around and heaven have pity on the person left with him if it went missing.  If possible, everyone should be at home as soon as they can because he’d get a wee bit upset if someone came home late.

When I was still living in Manila, he’d walk up to my room – he was an early riser – and took it upon himself to be my personal alarm clock, rousing me out of my sleep with his cacophonous greeting. It worked some times. Being the astute boy that he was, if I didn’t get out of bed, he’d walk over to my parents’ bedroom. No, he wouldn’t wake up my mum, knowing that she was a late sleeper. He preferred to have my dad prepare his breakfast.

He came into our lives unexpectedly in October of 1990. We found him in the laundry area of our backyard one day and, without hesitation, we christened him Kayenne (after the pepper), which I eventually shortened to Yingkoy, my pet name for him and I guess he didn’t mind at all because he never meowed in dissatisfaction whenever I called him that. He didn’t have the lithe, slender runner’s physique of his late brother Bugsy but he sure had the don’t-mess-with-me attitude, which no one – feline or otherwise – could match.

I learnt that Kayenne was a bit under the weather, refusing to eat, quiet and languid the past weeks. Then in the last three days he didn’t eat at all and was only content with a few sips of water. He passed on early last night and was buried early this morning alongside his baby brother. Kayenne, like his brother in his short time with us, made our family happy. His adorable face, distinct meows, graceful walk up the stairs and strong presence will be greatly missed. But I am consoled by the thought that he’s in a lovely place with Bugsy now, running around and playing hide and seek.

Good night little one.

Sweet, loving and fussy Kayenne


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