Chabi looking rough after a night without sleep thanks to my kid, Pork Head.
Babysitter Nutmeg trying to sleep when she can.
I never meant to adopt my two cats, Chabi and Nutmeg. Before them, I’d cared for another pair of cats who I had from when they were just two months old up until they died at fourteen and sixteen respectively. I was too affected by their deaths to even consider adopting more cats, but I did offer to become a foster for a Hong Kong animal rescue run by a very determined lady. A few cats stayed with me for a couple of months on their way to their permanent homes, but first Chabi and then later, Nutmeg, ended up staying.
Chabi stayed because she’d been abandoned when she developed pyometra, and I fostered her while she recovered from surgery. She was so anxious and traumatized that she followed me everywhere like a dog and needed to be held all the time. I ended up adopting her so that she wouldn’t have to go through another round of abandonment.
Nutmeg was also abandoned, at eighteen months, she’d already had three shitty owners who fed her crap and mistreated her, causing one eye to become infected. She lost the eye and came to me with her fur in dreadlocks and her teeth so bad that I had to keep scraping hardened plaque off them. She’d never been held before and when I picked her up the first time, she was so scared that she peed herself. I couldn’t let her face yet another abandonment, so she stayed despite Chabi’s protests.
Chabi and Nutmeg have since become roommates, if not friends. I told a friend of mine that my goal with pets is to make them feel so loved that they take it for granted, and it seems like I’ve become successful. Both these bums now treat me as their personal handmaiden and no longer seek my presence unless they want something from me, whether it’s to refill their water bowl (Nutmeg dislikes it when the water is more than an inch away from the edge of the bowl), to turn on the A/C when it’s too hot, or to scratch and groom them. Even Chabi has become jaded by affection, and now pushes me away whenever she feels like she’s had sufficient cuddling for the day.
It’s very different from when we first started living together or when I got pregnant, those two stayed with me all the time and purred me to sleep. But after the baby came, I suddenly lost standing with them and became the incompetent parent that they had to endure for the sake of the baby.
Chabi is Pork Head’s guardian. She watches over him whenever he sleeps, waking up and meowing every time he moves or talks in his sleep. Whenever he cried as a baby and I wasn’t in the room because I was peeing or showering, she would run to me, meowing frantically. If I moved too slowly for her, she would bite and/or scratch my ankles.
Until recently, Pork Head really hated showering because it meant that it was bedtime, and he would cry whenever I dragged him to the bathroom. Chabi would follow us, and despite her own fear of water, she would leap on my back and scratch me, giving my kid a chance to escape. I had to make sure I shut the door before she could enter but she would stay outside meowing and trying to turn the doorknob. Chabi may have aged more than I have from the stress of parenting.
Nutmeg, on the other hand, is Pork Head’s playmate. She shares her boxes with him and hangs around when he’s playing with his toys and paws at them. She lets him manhandle her, although she is also the tough parent who swats or gently bites him when he’s being overly rambunctious. She’s also turned him into her personal lackey and gets him to brush her when she’s in the mood to be groomed.
My kid isn’t a huge animal lover like some other kids who rescue strays, but he is so used to having these two (plus my mom’s dog) around that they’re not animals to him as much as they’re family members. That’s not too bad, I think.