A cat like Whitey
The Animal Lovers series is a humble avenue to promote kindness and compassion towards animals, and to inspire others with the stories of the bond and love between a human and their animal.
By Karen Chin @karenevachin
I HAVE ALWAYS been an animal lover, but more accurately, a cat-person. I do like dogs too, but cats are more my thing – independent, classy, cute, sly and seemingly up-to-no-good. I feel like a cat-whisperer sometimes, believing that I can communicate with any cat better than most people. I have all the precursors to becoming one of those crazy cat ladies.
I credit all this to my parents and other family members. They are avid animal lovers, seeing animals at the same level as human beings, treating them as an extension of the family. As a child, this understanding was instilled in me, and this led me to have a cause for standing up against cruelty to animals. My family constantly bombards my Facebook feed with photos, information and news about cats and dogs. I have once been guilty of posting pictures of my cat on a daily basis, too. All my friends know this about me.
THIS IS A STORY of a homeless, lonesome white kitten I met at the most unexpected time. It was night-time and I was at an obscure burger stall in the little ‘kampung’ areas between MJC and Stapok in Kuching. I have never been that deep in that area, but was there that night because I made a new friend at work who lives there and we decided to hang out and eat burgers in his neighbourhood.
While we were enjoying our food, I heard a tiny mew. My friend pointed to bottom of the portable burger stall and there I saw a tiny white kitten peeking out at us. The burger stall owners told me that they named the kitten Sephia, after the famous song by Indonesian band Sheila on 7. I looked at the kitten and stroked her gently with my foot and the next thing I knew, she was up on my lap all snuggled up. She snoozed there throughout my entire hangout and by the end of the night, my friend had found me a cardboard box and convinced me to bring Sephia home.
I renamed her Whitey and when she got back home with me, she had to get along with all my other pets – a young canine and a few other cats. Whitey had a gentle demeanor and she was always the ‘victim’ of bullying from the other more dominating animals curious about this new addition to the ‘zoo’. She was a ‘damsel-in-distress’ most of the time and that called for my extra attention to her. I felt like I needed to keep an eye on her as she was the youngest pet and that she seemed to need to be ‘saved’ quite frequently.
Once I was in my room and I heard frantic mewing. Panicking, I ran to the backyard to find Whitey’s head stuck between two planks and vigorously trying to pull herself free. You know how they say ‘curiosity kills the cat’? Well, I was trying hard to prevent that with Whitey.
For some reason, she was fluffier than any of the other cats I have. Her fur was white and soft, with dark brown markings on her ears, nose, and her long tail, similar to that of a Siamese cat. Her eyes were blue and her mew was soft and really more of a squeak. She quickly grew from a tiny, careless kitten into a young adult cat with a round belly but still maintaining her soft and almost feminine ways.
Whitey was loyal and exceptionally clingy for a cat. She would appear every time I got home from work and stick with me until the next day. If I had to go to the bathroom or shower, she would insist on being there with me. If I didn’t allow her to come in, she would climb to the window anyway and perch on the sill like a bird until I was done.
I suspect that Whitey was separated from her mother and litter when she was very young, and was lucky enough to have some caring forms of human interactions with the people at the burger stall who obviously took good care of her. Although she was insecure and unsure of herself as a cat, she trusted and bonded with humans easily.
One early Sunday morning when I was out for a church meeting, I suddenly got a call from home saying that Whitey was found in the backyard convulsing. She had soiled herself and there was oddly-coloured discharge from her mouth.
I was told she had died in the car on the way to the vet. There was nothing anyone could do to save her.
We suspected she had been poisoned, maybe from ingesting rat poison or something else she was not supposed to eat. It was a common case of ‘curiosity killing the cat’ because she was never left hungry and had an abundance of food always.
When I heard the news, I broke down in tears. I dreaded going home for a few days because the reminder was too painful. I mourned and grieved for a week, feeling depressed even at work.
This was strange to me because I wasn’t usually that emotional or sentimental, and my emotions following the death of Whitey surprised me. Every time I got home, I parked the car and cried because there was no sign of her anymore, and I even cried in the shower because there was no more cat perched on the window sill like a perverted stalker.
I guess the bond between me and Whitey was strong because of how I felt she needed me and how she showed she was loyal to me. Whitey was only with me several months, which was not very long, but I still miss her to this day.