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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hindi Ako Si Catwoman

At 40+ years (okay, 40+++), I recently moved out of my mother's house and found myself a small studio, by a creek, in Baguio City. The day I moved in, a cat adopted me. How spinster-ish can that be?!

Let me orient you about the studio first. In the compound, it is a single-detached unit with a working fireplace. It is soooo small that 3 out of the 4 tatami mats I own can only fit into the floor. The fourth one I use now as my headboard. There is a small kitchen counter with sink and a toilet. The fireplace I now use to store the few books I have decided to keep. Otherwise, everything is within arms reach if you stand in the middle of the studio.

The cat adopted me on my first day there. I was smoking outside my studio (my dining table is outside under the overhang of the roof) and noticed the cat across the property. It was slowly crawling down the creek. I stood up to see where it was going and what it was up to. I found it entering the culvert, and so I called it: "ssswwwwssss, sssswwwwssss..." the cat looked at me strangely. That was mistake number 1.

It was by then nearing lunch and so I go to the Carinderia a few meters away from the compound and take out some food. Upon returning home, I saw the cat by the fence near my studio. I get my plate and a bowl to put the food I had bought and started to eat. The cat unabashedly mewed and came to me. It rubbed its ears, neck and tail on my bare legs. It seemed hungry. But I told him to wait until I had finished eating and I would give him some leftovers. That would be mistake number 2.

I left him some of the dinuguan I had and mixed it with some rice. I got an old plastic plate and put his food in it. He sniffed the food first, then licked some of the sauce over the rice. Then  he continued to pick only the meat from the plate, digging under the rice for more meat. After he had eaten all the meat, he walked away. I left the plate there just in case he came back in the afternoon and was hungry. The Spitz owned by the neighbors in the unit next to mine came and lapped up the cat's leftovers!

The next day, I bought food for the cat again. I thought, as long as the cat visits me, and if I am around, then I shall feed him. But he will have to fend for himself on those days I will be out of town. And so it was when I left for Cagayan de Oro for the Cinema Rehiyon in late February, and then again when I left for Manila in the second week of March.

Last Monday, I had bread for breakfast. The cat was mewing and wouldn't stop until I gave him some. I tore a piece of bread and tossed it on the ground. He ate it. Then continued mewing. I did the same thing for about five times then he stopped mewing, was probably full already, then walked away. Just like that.

Yesterday, when I awoke, the cat had given me a gift next to my door. It was a bull frog. Well, what was left of it anyway. The bullfrog, lying on its back, bloodied and his left leg half torn off. Its blood staining the pebble wash near my dining table. I swept the dead bullfrog away (okay, I dumped its body by the creek, biodegradable naman diba?). I scolded the cat, who was by now lying down on my chair. I told him: "You don't sit on my chair!"

Today, I wake up and the cat is on top of my dining table. Sleeping. I didn't want to wake him up because I thought he might pounce on my face. I texted my friend Lyssa, who is code-named 'Atty. Tequila' in my phonebook: "Txt me nga kce I'll put my fone on vibrate, then lay it on d table nxt to d cat!" After a few seconds, I forward the same text message to two other friends, Padma and Babeth.

Padma was the first to reply: "Hahaha! Lemme know what happens." And then another text: "Missed call pa, you want?" I replied: "Try miscol! Suplado! He ddnt wake up nor flinch! How am I going to have bfast now?" Babeth was unsympathetic to my plight, texting: "Bagay sa indie spirit mo :-)"

My friends rang my celfone to no avail. The cat wouldn't wake up. I remembered Vicky Costina's book on cats and went inside the house to get my copy. I was hoping there would be some tips on how to keep your cat off your furniture. There was the usual info about what to feed cats, about their litter boxes, grooming, spaying, neutering (hmmm... my thought balloon: Hey you, Tomcat! If I'm not getting any, then you're not getting any either!), and then... EUTHANASIA! Which I texted to Atty. Tequila, Padma and Babeth.

Now don't get me wrong. I do love cats. Back when I was in elementary we had two cats. A blue-eyed albeit cross-eyed siamese cat whom we called Panquis (pronounced pang-key, kunwari french, pangkis being ilocano for cross-eyed) and a Persian whose name I now forget.The Persian had the most luxurious black coat. Sometimes it would look like it was midnight blue. I enjoyed grooming these two cats. Picking their fleas was a pastime for me. And how many times was I clawed through my jeans, whenever they had enough of spending time on my lap.

Along with these two cats we had a poodle. And parakeets. My cousin who lived in the unit below us had a doberman. My cousins next door had a spitz. My grandfather had 5 german shepherds, a pig and chickens in the poultry. My mom had goldfishes in a pond next to her accounting office. So you see, I grew up with pets. Which is my point now...

At 40+++, I've had it with pets. I'm done with pets. I don't need a Tomcat, I need a Tom Cruise! Heck, a Tom Babauta will do!

Now back to the cat on my dining table. While exchanging text messages with my three friends, the cat, just like that, woke up, stood and arched his back. Leapt off the table and scampered away! Tse! I guess I'm stuck with Tomcat. While showering, I was thinking if I should name him Jose (after Jose Cuervo) or Yangco (after Padma's and my street) or Pablo (after Picasso, coz Babeth paints and she gave me a painting of a cat that's too big for my studio).

I go back to my dining table outside and sit by the chair. A few moments, Tomcat comes to me, mewing, rubbing its ears, neck and tail on my legs. Still mewing. Dinedma ko nga siya. I put on my Glenn Close/Marquise de Mertuil stance. After all, Tomcat is as ugly and haughty as John Malkovich/Vicomte de Valmont. That's it! I'll call him Valmont!

Tomorrow if Valmont comes again, I shall look him straight in the eye and say: "Alright, war!"

(That's Tom Babauta. I did get a photo of Valmont on my celfone, but can't find the cord to attach it to the pc. Me must get me self a i-phone. methinks!)