Manja Cats, Singapore & Us

Manja Cats: Tigger, Ve Ching, Harmony & Missy (in order of adoption); Singapore: Where we are currently living; Us: Alex's British, Tarsier Girl is Singaporean.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Loy Loy

Loy Loy hates having her photo taken. This is our best picture of her. She only looked into the camera because of the treat placed in front of her.

Loy Loy passed away on 9th November last year. She was 13 years old. I adopted her in July 2002 when she was 10 years old. Her owner then was an elderly Cantonese lady named Auntie Peng. Her husband had died 2-3 years prior, and after her husband’s death, she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law. They were not fond of Loy Loy, to say the least, and asked Auntie Peng to give her away. After resisting them for a year, she finally found someone to adopt her. However, when she made follow-up visits, she found that Loy Loy had been locked in the bathroom. That broke her heart and she brought Loy Loy home. A year later, her grandson was born, and the pressure to get rid of Loy Loy mounted. As Loy Loy had been an only ‘child’ all her life, she was not used to sharing her owner with the baby. Whenever Auntie Peng carried her grandchild, Loy Loy would bark and the baby would cry. An ultimatum was given: Auntie Peng had to spend Loy Loy to the SPCA to be put down if she could not find her a home.

Luckily, Auntie Peng had made friends with another dog lover in her neighbourhood. When this young lady heard of Auntie Peng’s plight, she sent out a mass email, which I eventually received. I went to see Loy Loy as I had always wanted a dog. Also, I didn’t think that anyone would adopt a 10-year-old dog and I didn’t want it to be sent to the SPCA to be put down. When I got there, I found out that Loy Loy walked with a limp and ran on three legs, and also had a disfigured jaw, which caused her tongue to hang out all the time. Still, I fell in love with her and that weekend, we brought her home. When we took her to the vet, he said that she was probably between 12-15 years old, that her limp could have been fixed if she was younger and that all her teeth had to be pulled out as they were rotten. We scheduled the surgery for the following week and for the next 3 years, I had a great little dog, who lived for her walks and her cheese, and overcame her disfigurements and health problems with her happy-go-lucky attitude. What Loy Loy has taught me is to live for the now, and to enjoy every bit of life even when it throws you curveballs.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hit & Run

Click on the photo if you want to read what the text boxes in the picture say.

While on our way to dinner last night, we discovered that someone had hit our parked car and driven off without leaving us a note claiming responsibility for the damage. I guess that was too much to hope for. Given that our car is almost brand new (less than 2 months old), I think we both took it pretty well. There was no anger, no frustration. For me, there was just a tinge of sadness that someone could have been so irresponsible. My faith in humankind is forever being tested. :)

But I am actually pretty happy at how well we both reacted. As a Buddhist, I'm forever trying not to get attached to things. I think I've just about managed it with non-living things like the car, but living things like my kitties are a whole different matter altogether.

So, to the person who hit my car, I say, thank you very much. If you had not hit my car and driven away without a note, I wouldn't have had the chance to practise what the Dharma teaches. May you be well and happy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Greedy Tigger

Tigger is the greediest of all my kitties. Whenever I open the pantry door, Tigger will run from wherever he is, and sit in it. When he first did it, I would use treats to lure him out. But when it became a many-times-a-day event, I stopped giving him treats and just left him sitting there. After a while, he will get bored and come out.

On days when I hang up the laundry (the laundry line is just outside the pantry door), Tigger would inevitably scratch the pantry door until I open it for him. Then he will go in there and sit, all the while willing me to give him some treats.

Tigger is such a greedy puss that he'll eat anything, including prata with curry and hei bee hiam! Okay, I lie, he'll eat almost anything. He stops short at veggies and fruits. And while he'll come nosing around at meal times, he's a very polite cat, and will simply sit and wait to be given something to eat. This is unlike a certain black and white cat who tries at every turn to flick food off my plate! I usually try and reward Tigger for his patience by giving him a little something off my plate when I'm done. Or if there's nothing left, I'll give him a cat treat.

Tigger waiting to be given some cheese flan

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cats of Yokohama

Creating the post below reminded me that when I was in Yokohama, I took a number of photographs of the cats there. While I didn't see any cats on the streets, I did come across quite a few in their gardens and temples. Here're a few pictures that I took of those cats. The first three pictures were taken in Sankeien Garden.

The guy in the picture is a photographer. He showed me a very thick portfolio of the pictures that he had taken of the cats in Sankeien Garden.

This cat turned up wherever I went in the garden. Maybe he was stalking me!

Doesn't he look beautiful in the midst of all that greenery? I assumed it was a 'he', cos he was bigger than the other cats there.

This cat was photographed in Harbor View Park (Minato-no-Mieru Oka Koen). It happily groomed itself for a long while before falling asleep, oblivious to the people who were watching.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Postcards from Japan

Usually, when I go abroad, I would bring along photographs of my kitties in my handphone. And when I start to miss them, I would whip out my handphone to look at their likeness.

But in 2002, when I tagged along on Alex's business trip to Yokohama, I had forgotten to bring any pictures of my cats because I had to use a handphone loaned from M1 (Singapore handphones don't work in Japan). A few days into the trip, I missed my cats so much that I bought these postcards which reminded me of them. At the time, Ve Ching and Tigger were my only furkids, so I got the top postcard as it reminded me of Ve Ching and the one below, which reminded me of Tigger.

If I should forget to bring pictures of my kitties in future trips abroad, I think I will be hard put to find a postcard of a cat that resembles Missy because postcards of grey calicos are rare. Also, in Japan, it was very easy to find pictures of cats but it may not be quite so simple to find good postcards of cats in other countries.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ve Ching

Ve Ching with his favourite gorilla toy Posted by Picasa

One day in February 2001, my yoga teacher, Helen, came to class and announced that she had a kitten for adoption. By this time, Tigger was already 8 months old, and in serious need of a companion. Despite our hours of mummy and kitty time, he would still wander around the house meowing not just loudly, but persistently, whenever I was on the computer. He would also scratch the sofa to get my attention if I was on the phone for more than a few seconds. He simply wanted my attention all the time. As we had always intended for ours to be a 2-human-2-cat household, we decided that now was the perfect time to adopt another kitten.

The following week at yoga class, I asked Helen if she had found a home for the kitten yet. When she said no, I was very happy and said we would take it. That night Alex and I went over to her apartment at Braddell View Condo to collect our newcomer.

Helen told us the kitten had been found at her condo’s playground by a group of children. They had taken it home hoping to keep it but were told by their parents to return the kitten to the playground. Helen came across this sad bunch of kids and asked to see what was in their box. She then took the kitten from the children and decided to re-home it.

Helen handed over the little kitty, together with a stuffed toy gorilla (in picture above) belonging to her daughter which the kitten had grown very fond of, and the box in which she had found it. She also included some bedding in the box so that the kitten would have some familiar smells in its new environment.

The minute we let it loose in our spare room, this little as-yet-unnamed kitten started to run around the place, bravely exploring every nook and cranny. He was a fearless little thing. As we watched him, we tried to decide on a name for him. Looking at him, it dawned on me that he had very oriental looking, almond-shaped eyes that slanted upwards. I decided right then that he should have a Chinese name. And as he was such a courageous explorer, I though we could name him after the Chinese admiral Cheng Ho. Unfortunately, at that particular point in time, I simply could not remember the admiral’s name. So in the end, we settled on Ve Ching, our anglicised version of weijing or monosodium glutamate. The box in which Ve Ching was found was a box that used to contain MSG. So that is how poor Ve Ching got his name. He could have been named after a great admiral, but instead, he is named after stuff that makes your hair fall out. If only his mummy had a better memory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why is it? Part II

Why is it that kitty cats just love to sit on the newspaper while I'm reading it? The following sequence of photos took place yesterday morning. Most of the time, Ve Ching is the one who sits on the papers. I read around him until it's no longer possible, then I try to move him. I've tried sliding him off, carrying onto my lap etc, but he always ends up on the newspaper. Today, he even tried tunnelling under the pages just as I was turning them.

Ve Ching ignoring me while I plead with him to get off my newspaper Posted by Picasa

Ve Ching annoyed that I've tried to get him off the newspaper Posted by Picasa

Ve Ching grooming himself nonchalantly as I try to get him off the paper Posted by Picasa

Ve Ching having a play fight with Harmony. Now I've two cats ignoring me while I try to get them to play elsewhere Posted by Picasa

All excited after fighting with Harmony, Ve Ching decides to attack the newspaper instead! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Why is it? Part I

Why is it that kitty cats will always try to get into the store room whenever Alex or I need to go in there to get something? The minute the store room door is open a crack, there will be at least one cat trying to slip past our legs to get in. And once in there, it is almost impossible to get them out.

Ve Ching (left) & Harmony (right), King & Queen of the Store Room

Harmony looking annoyed 'cos we've been trying to get her out of the store room

Although the store room is pretty small, the cats still manage to find good hiding places in it. So it should come as no surprise that occasionally, one of them would inadvertently get locked in. This is not a problem for most of them as they would just meow loudly when they decide that they have had enough and want to come out. Unfortunately, little Harmony will not do that. She will not come when called either, not even for food. So it is sometimes very hard to tell if she is just happily snoozing somewhere well hidden, or she has been trapped in the store room or cupboard. In the past, we have had to hunt high and low for her, calling out her name over and over again, only to find her sitting in the store room patiently waiting for us to open the door for her. And all that time, not one peep out of her. Not even to say, "I'm in here, mummy! Let me out!"

Friday, January 13, 2006

Kitties for Company

As most of the time I am the only human around the house during the day, it's great to have kitties for company. While they are asleep most of the time, they will at least sleep around me while I work. In this picture, Harmony (left) is fast asleep in the basket. But just minutes before, she was pestering me to stroke her and would walk to and fro in from of the monitor, effectively blocking the screen until I had stroked her to sleep. Tigger then came in and plopped himself in front of the keyboard which I had just vacuumed free of tons of cat fur and claw bits, and gone to sleep. Earlier on, he was in the kitchen, browsing my cook books while I was looking for the recipe for agar agar with coconut or evaporated milk. And yesterday, Harmony stayed in the kitchen supervising while I made soya bean milk. She was a little put off by the smell of raw soya beans, but so was I!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pet Accessories at Ikea

Some of Ikea's overseas outlets now have a section called "For the pets", which sells pet accessories. The Singapore outlet, however, does not have such a section. But that has not stopped Alex and I from shopping for our cats at Ikea. There are a few items there that they like, but the hands-down or rather, paws-down favourite for all of them is a little wicker basket that comes in either red or blue. All you have to do is to place a little towel or an old shirt in it, and it becomes the perfect cat bed, as modelled by my four sleeping beauties below. It doesn't matter if your cats are too big to fully squeeze into it, they will still enjoy using the basket, even if bits of them hang out.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tropical Rain Storm

Coming from the UK, Alex never fails to be amazed by how quickly the weather can change from cloudly to chucking down with rain in these parts. Here, he's captured the suddenness of Saturday's downpour. The four photos below, were taken a minute apart, starting from 4.10pm.

Saturday, 7 January 2006, 4.10pm Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 7 January 2006, 4.11pm Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 7 January 2006, 4.12pm Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 7 January 2006, 4.13pm Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Harmony's Vaccination Day

I wasn't planning to blog this weekend, but after Harmony's somewhat eventful vaccination this morning, I changed my mind.

Harmony has never been the best behaved of cats at the vet clinic. When she was sterilised at six months, I went to collect her from the vet clinic in the evening, expecting her to be already waiting for me in her carrier. But when I got there, the vet technician ushered me into the back of the surgery. Despite the post surgery drowsiness, she was behaving aggressively and none of the clinic staff would venture close enough to carry her out of the cage in which she was recuperating.

The cage was at the top of a three-tier stack, and I had to climb a ladder as Harmony was in the top cage. As my head popped into view, Harmony let out a hiss and a spit. I was startled as she had never done that before. I said, "Harmony, it's me, mummy!", upon which her eyes became more focused and she seemed to calm down a little. I stretched my hand into the cage and started rubbing her cheek. When she had calmed down even more, I reached in and carried her out and down the ladder.

Since then, she has been a little spitfire every time we have been to the vet's.

Anyway, coming back to today's events... Like I said, Harmony is not the best behaved of cats at the clinic, but she actually starts to kick up a fuss from the moment she's placed in her carrier. She begins by meowing very loudly (the 'please call the SPCA, I'm being abused' kind of pitiful loud meow) all the way along the corridor, to the car, throughout the whole road trip (about 20 minutes) and into the vet clinic. Two tricks we've learnt to reduce all this meowing is firstly, to spray Feliway into her carrier about 10 minutes before placing her in it. She will still meow, but less insistently. Secondly, while one of us drives, the other has to continuously stroke her all the way to the vet clinic. This totally keeps her from meowing. The only time you would hear a peep from her is when my hand gets tired and I stop stroking.

Harmony seemed pretty placid when we arrived at the vet's. Even when we placed her on the examination table and then the weighing machine, she was still feeling alright with the world, more interested in sniffing the stethoscope than anything else. But when the vet tried to give her a deworming pill, her dark side began to show itself. She hissed at the vet and gave him her best evil look until he decided rightly, that perhaps it would be better to give her the deworming medication in a syringe, which she quite willingly swallowed. Then came time for the vaccination. The vet technician had to hold down Harmony's front paws while the vet approached her with the needle from behind. It didn't take long for her to bite down on the vet technician's hands. Alex then took over from the vet tech as she stood aside to recover from her shock. Showing no mercy, Harmony hissed and spat at and bit down on Alex's hand too. Luckily, in that short space of time, the vet managed to inject her and the visit was over. Fortunately too, there was no damage to the vet tech's hand (not even a scratch), while Alex had only a tiny toothmark on his. I guess Harmony's meow was worse than her bite.

The next bit of drama took place when we got home. The ride home had gone very smoothly with Harmony relaxed enough to want to come out of her carrier and have a wander about the car. But the minute she stepped into the flat, she started to throw up. In the space of less than 10 minutes, she threw up 6-7 times and did a runny poo. I called up the vet clinic and the staff said that she could just be reacting to the liquid dewormer plus the car ride, and that it was nothing to worry about. Looking really ill with her eyes squinting and red-rimmed and her mouth slightly open, she went under our bed and hid there. It was something that she had never done before. We lay on the floor with her until she fell asleep, then we crept out and went for lunch.

Coming home a couple of hours later, we found Harmony on the sofa with her left eye still a little red-rimmed (see photo above), looking very sorry for herself. We made a fuss over her, which she seemed to enjoy, and happily, by night fall, she was back to her old self, playing with her toys and messing with the water in the bathroom sink.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Tigger & Biscuit

Tigger (left) and Biscuit (right) when we first brought them home Posted by Picasa

Tigger and Biscuit are our first pets. I've never had a pet in my life till then, 'cos my mother forbade it when I was growing up. Alex, on the other hand, grew up on a small farm in England, and since his parents loved cats, was surrounded by them from the time he was born.

Two years into our marriage, at a time when Alex was working a lot of overtime as well as working abroad frequently, I broached the idea of getting a dog so that the house would not seem so empty when I came home from work. Alex didn't think a dog was a good idea 'cos it would be lonely for most of the day. He suggested that we get a cat instead, and after much reading up, we decided on a pair of kittens so that they would have company while we were out of the house.

We went to the SPCA one Sunday with my sister Pat. Unfortunately the cats there were all down with cat flu and therefore not available for adoption. As we were leaving, Pat heard someone go "psstt!!" behind her. It was one of the SPCA staff, whose name, we later found out, was Agnes. She asked if we were looking to adopt a kitten and when we said yes, she disappeared behind a door and returned with a tiny but foul-smelling little ginger kitten. We fell in love with it immediately and told her so. Agnes then asked if we would take another one. As we had already planned to take a pair, we said yes. This time, she returned with a black and ginger bundle, who was just as foul smelling. Agnes said that she had just rescued a litter of kittens from a construction site and that there was no where to place them as the quarantine area was filled with sick cats from the cattery.

Alex and I took the pair home and discovered two things. One, they were crawling with fleas and two, they had a very bad case of diarrhoea. We took them to the vet and found out that their ears were infested with mites and that they were very weak due to anaemia. Their chances of survival were not good.

Over the next two weeks, it was as if we had newborn baby twins in the house. They needed their feed and medication every four hours, 24 hours a day. Our lives revolved around these four-hour feeds. We would take half day leave or rush home during lunch hour to feed Tigger and Biscuit using a syringe. And while I had my fair share of feeding time, Alex very kindly took the 3am shift every day, mostly because I was a heavy sleeper and would not have heard the alarm clock anyway.

The first night at our flat, Biscuit had already begun to wander around the bathroom. She even managed to climb over the child safety gate that we had installed at the bathroom door leading to the spare room. Meanwhile Tigger would just lay in their shared little box, not moving at all. Biscuit's wanderlust lulled us into thinking that she was the stronger of the two and we were thrilled that she appeared to be thriving. On the other hand, Tigger worried us a lot by his inactivity.

However, when we took them back to the vet for a check-up after a week, she told us that Biscuit was the weaker of the two and that she had lost weight. Upon reflection, we realised that while Tigger would swallow whatever we syringed into his mouth, Biscuit would let the liquid seep out from the opposite corner of her mouth. 10 days after we got her from the SPCA, Biscuit died while we were out for dinner.

Biscuit 2000 Posted by Picasa

Her death truly saddened us. It should not have been unexpected but it was. I was very upset at the time but it has been a learning experience.

May Biscuit be happy and well wherever she is.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Our Manja Cats

From left: Missy, Tigger, Harmony & Ve Ching Posted by Picasa

This picture may seem a strange way to introduce you, the reader, to my four cats. But sadly, it is the only one that I have of all four of them together. Maybe one day, I'll try placing their food bowls in a row on the floor and take a picture of their front. But it is no easy feat placing them side by side, as it is, cos Missy is very likely to thump Tigger and Ve Ching to menace Missy.

All four cats were adopted, either directly off the streets of Singapore, from an acquaintance or from the SPCA. The adoptions started with Tigger in 2000, followed by Ve Ching in 2001, Harmony in 2002 and Missy in 2003. We also had another kitten and a dog, but both have since passed away. The kitten, Biscuit, passed away after only 10 days with us. She was Tigger's sister. Both had a very bad start to life, but Tigger surprised us by pulling through. Our dog, Loy Loy, whom we adopted in 2002, passed way in November 2004, at the ripe old age of 13.

More about all of them in future posts!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Far from the Maddening Crowd

Singapore can be quite a surprising place. Many foreigners think of Singapore as an urban jungle. But there are actually many little areas in Singapore that have jungle of the green leafy variety. MacRitchie Reservoir is one of them.

Here are some photos taken during a New Year's Eve morning spent meandering along the boardwalks of MacRitchie. It is so peaceful in there, with only the rustling of leaves and the calls of the animals, that it didn't surprise us when we came across a man meditating by a bench about half an hour into our walk. Wandering around in there made me forget all about the urban jungle just minutes away.

Boardwalk leading to the Treetop Walk Posted by Picasa

Monitor Lizard (at least that's what I think it is) having a swim in the reservoir Posted by Picasa

Stairs along the broadwalk Posted by Picasa

View of the reservoir from the broadwalk Posted by Picasa