So there we were, The T-Rex and I, walking home after bringing The Hooligan to school. The T-Rex was ambling and I was trying to stop him from putting pebbles in his mouth when we both saw the tiny white kitten quivering toward the road and certain death. The T-Rex immediately let out a slew of warnings to the cat, “Dadn dadn dadn dadn!” (That meant, “Don’t go there, kitty!” It sometimes also means, “Helicopter in the sky!” And, “Dog!” Very rarely, it means what The Hub thought it meant when we heard it for the first time, “Daddy!”)
Despite the repeated warnings, the kitten blindly creeped forward, meowing with every step. And sure enough, a huge black SUV came up the road. The kitty was on its way to becoming road kill. As if in a movie, The T-Rex and I jumped forward, screaming to the driver to, “Stop!” He stopped inches from the oblivious kitten; must have thought he’d come across a crazy mother and her demented kid. I scooped up the kitten – I could cup it completely in one hand – and delivered it to safety on the side of the road. Thinking the mother would be back for it, I pulled The T-Rex along which prompted him to resist: “Dadn! Dadn! Dadn!” As if on cue, the kitty came out of the bushes and headed back to the middle of the road. Little stupid cat.
So we brought it home.
It looked like it was just two weeks old. I had to – grudgingly – go to the supermarket and buy it a baby feeding bottle and some milk. It was then that I realized that taking care of an almost newborn cat takes a lot of commitment and patience – sort of like taking care of children, except it’s not advisable to keep children in a cage. This cat cried when it was hungry, when it couldn’t sleep, when it was cold, when it was bored. It seemed it cried all the time and I knew it was looking for its mother. But we couldn’t find the mother – we looked. In desperation, I even emailed PAWS and PAWS’ Ana Cabrera called me back – really passionate service! – to tell me they couldn’t take the kitten in because they already had 250 cats in their shelter. Instead she told me how to take care of the kitten.
In spite of my best efforts – assisted by The T-Rex, who liked to pull the kitten’s ears, and The Hooligan, who insisted on feeding the kitten but lost interest the moment cat drool landed on her hand – the kitten died after two weeks. It breaks my heart because I imagine it died wishing for its mother. I hugged The Hooligan and The T-Rex closer.
It’s a good thing the kids aren’t new to dead pets. The Hooligan’s first pets were a gift to her – a couple of tonkinese cats who bore three kittens. They died within two weeks of each other after catching a feline-only virus. We now have a tombstone in our garden marking the resting place of Tinkerbell, Dragon Kite, Mr. Krab, and Hiccup. (The Hooligan obviously named them.) Later on, two other cats – Blinky and Stripey – keeled over, but this time, the kids didn’t even notice. The remaining cat in our house is Mr. Bobinsky, a tough pusakal (pusang kalye) who strayed in and never left.
It’s nice, in a way, living in a house with animals. It reminds me that our earth is not just for humans, and that teaches me to be more compassionate. It has also taught me that cat food, when ingested in little doses, is not harmful to little children, according to our pediatrician.