Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The family you choose yourself.


It is entirely bizarre how one simple change in your routine can affect so much. It was about six months into my new life as a vegan (so, say July) that it occurred to me that I could volunteer my spare time to the local animal shelter.

"Yes, that's what I shall do", I thought. And I did. Not going to lie, it was daunting at first. Two cats; both needing daily medication, new feed, water, bedding and a cuddle. Easy really, just not the medication. It wasn't long until I was doing this all alone for four cats. And not all these cats were friendly; towards each other or myself. That's life I guess. The animal kingdom is much like human society; not all animals/people are nice.

It was roughly around the time I started getting a little smug that I came across "him". A fellow volunteer and friend of mind sent me a message informing me that there were two new cats and I ay want to consider bringing a friend along for some moral support. "Pfft" I thought, "How terrifying can kittens be?" Boy was I wrong. I was horribly outnumbered by two scared full-grown cats and two seven-month-old male Bengal kittens. Twenty minutes later I had endured many bites, scratches and had taken to sooking in the corner as my feline counterparts ran wild.

As I now know, Bengal cats are part tiger (aka Bengal tigers) which makes them more terrifying than your run-of-the-mill house tabby. Patches, the youngest was no exception. He was everywhere at once. He was tiny; obviously the runt of his litter, and would eat four packets of Whiskas in the one sitting. He would scream for hours for attention, then would bite you when he got it. Once I even caught him balancing atop of a cat scratch slapping the other kitties on the head. He was basically the devil in kitten form.

But then something completely illogical happened. I fell in love with him. His brother, Tigger, had just found a new home and Bengals usually need to live with another Bengal, and knowing the rarity of the breed and the odds of another Bengal owner being in the market for a male kitten, I didn't think his chances of being re-homed were very great, considering how in his tiny life he had already had three homes. So after a few fairly heated arguments, a weeks worth of sleepless nights and a rather adequate amount of money, I had committed myself to becoming his fur-mummy.

That was four months ago, however it feels like he has always been a part of this family. Its strange, at the animal shelter he was scary, temperamental and constantly angry but he is so perfectly behaved here. I come home from work each afternoon to him waiting at the front door with those bright eyes so happy to see his mummy is home; I awake at 4am with a headache and he is there to protect me from all that lurks in the dark. He is always there, actually, as I write this now he is curled up in front of me watching the tele.

It hasn't all been fun though. My other baby, Allegra, who I have had since she was a kitten five years ago, has had it out for Patches since day one. She has never had to share and the idea of giving up her things and sharing her food makes her angry, but over the past few months they have came to tolerate one another. It is the same of human siblings too I guess.


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