To keep this post on track with my blog which is sharing my experiences, views and observations about life in Saudi, I will write about my cats and their adjustment to the Kingdom.
I presently have three capricious cats, “Max,” “Tripod” and “Saheba.” They have been with me a long time as I’ll share further below and they have each been around the world three times thus far. I guess you could say they are well-traveled cats and have their own kitty passports no less!
Max is the “Old Man” of the group. He is a pedigreed Persian and his complete name is “Max A’Million.” He is 15 years old and still has the outlook of a young kitten but combined with the cantankerous nature of a senior citizen accustomed to getting his own way. I acquired Max as a young 10 week old kitten from a Boston pet shop. Yep; I saw him and was hooked, could not leave the store without him. His biggest claim to fame which I believe illustrates his intelligence is one night many years back he awakened me from a deep sleep. He was pawing at my arm and then running to the window and mewwing. This was unusual behavior for him so in spite of my groggy state, I responded to his cues and looked out the window. My neighbor’s house was on fire!
Tripod…now where do I begin with Tripod? He is the Character in the family. I rescued Tripod when I was living in Pakistan. I was out golfing in Islamabad when I heard the distinctive mews of a “cat in distress.” I tossed my clubs to a caddy, grabbed my golf towel and followed the sound of the mews. It was there I discovered this disgustingly gray and dirty cat that had been hit by a car and climbed up under a bush to die. This was also very obviously a feral wild cat but also a cat in need. He allowed me to inspect him so I carefully wrapped him up in a golf towel and then proceeded to the most “competent” vet in Islamabad. The vet told me he could try to save this kitty but the leg would have to go in order to do so. I gave him the green light and left this kitty in the hands of the vet and the prayers of God. When I was called to return to the vet’s office I was told the cat had survived the surgery and had a better chance of overall survival. I went in to see the cat and my first thought was “wait a minute….this vet is trying to do a bait and switch campaign with me because I brought him a gray cat and now he was presenting me with a caramel and white three legged cat.” Oh yes, it was the same Tripod but after he had also been bathed. While Tripod recovered from his amputation I told the story of rescuing him among the diplomatic community in which I worked. He was recuperating at my home but I had received 4 different offers of families willing to adopt him once he was recovered. But what can I say…while he was healing, we bonded. I mean we really bonded. This stray feral Pakistani cat who probably had not had anyone treat him with kindness stuck to me like glue and allowed me to pet him, cuddle him and he trusted me. Once that happened, I could not think of letting him go and that is how he became part of my menagerie of cats. Oh and I did I mention, he rules the roost and is not in the least bit “paw-decapped.”
Saheba….she is also another Pakistani rescue cat. She mysteriously showed up at my front door as a wee young kitten who was not shy and with a great set of lungs. She is “so ugly she is cute.” Her full name is Saheba Kootchaloo which basically means “Little Lovely Queen.” Saheba is urdu for Lovely Queen (and also the name of Mrs. Pervaiz Musharaff, wife of Pakistan’s president) and kootchaloo is the Farsi (persian) word for little. Saheba is without a doubt the mst talkative cat I’ve ever had or seen in my life. One can easily carry on a 45 minute conversation with Saheba and You will be the first one to stop talking.
If you were not aware of it, cats will experience jet lag just like people. When my cats have traveled with long flights, the first 3-7 days they are just like me, wandering around with the glazed look on their face and sleeping alot.
And in case you did not know it, cats can be trained. It takes time and patience but cats will learn their individual names; they will respond and answer when called; they will come when called; they will understand and respond to basic commands.
In Saudi Arabia there remains quite a stigma about cats. Thus far the majority of residents in the Kingdom are afraid of cats and many refer to them as “Saudi street rats.” I am happy to say that with the case of my extended Saudi family, over time they have seen how loving and giving and clean and well behaved my own cats are. Gradually the majority of them have overcome their fear of domestic housecats at least. And to my greatest pleasure, my dear sweet traditional Saudi mother-in-law led the way and is one of the biggest ones when it comes to spoiling my cats.
And now if I do this correctly, I will share some photos of my kitties which I took when we first arrived in Saudi with them.