It’s been ten whole days since she left. Forever. And still at each mealtime I think of preparing her tiny plateful of rice and meat. Each time I walk into the house, I look for her on the stairs, hopping down delicately to greet me (pretending, of course, that she had not seen me!). I always knew she loved to see me, though she would never deign to show me much of it.
My very un-feline tabby Malu was discovered in the middle of a road, one December evening, in 2005, crouched with her sibling (whom I named Paru, and who did not survive beyond 5 days). They were abandoned near a garbage dump, and had wandered on to the road. On my way to town, I saw them. Stopped. Scooped them both up and put them in my car. For who knew if I would meet them ever again, or not?
At home, safely ensconced in a cardboard carton, lined with an old warm blanket, I began to try and feed them. They could not lap milk yet. And by Jove, were they hungry! And noisy with it. So out came the standby feeding bottles to which they took to instantly! It wasnt enough being fed, they needed to be cuddled too! With my Labrador, Chinnu, around they initially hesitated, but gradually got used to her. Chinnu, being the marvellously adaptable and friendly soul, instantly welcomed them, though she did not want much to do with cuddling them! 😀
I did not let her out of the house much. There were enough and more huge stray cats all around the house, and I had this terror that she might be mauled. Somehow, a bit of my terror must have been understood by her, for she never tried to venture out, more than a few feet! Of course, she went out to do her business, but that was it! She would spend hours on the veranda, or the window sill, eyeing stealthily butterflies, insects, birds that hopped about, pretending that she would pounce any moment! She also made this strange quivery quivery noise each time she made to pounce! But never once, has she ever pounced on live prey, except, once, on a half dead cockroach! You remember I did say un-feline!
In 2006, she, as do all Tabbies, got pregnant. I followed her around like a mother hen as she got a bit big, wondering how on earth this tiny cat was actually going to get her kitten out the normal way. My worst fears came true. She went into labour, in the lower shelf of my writing table, and with all her gentle heaving, simply could not get the little one out. This started at night, and by morning, I was sure this was one for a vet. She had become weak, terribly so. We made the trip to The Veterinary Hospital connected to the Vet. College here and once again, Luck was in. She was advised a C-section, and taken immediately to the OT. An hour later, she came back with a tiny scrap of a kitten, miraculously alive. But her wound, of the C-section did not permit her to suckle the young one, and we could do little to help it with the self same feeding bottle. As was expected, it did not live. As for Malu, I did not expect her to come through either, given that I was tied up with the illness and the sudden and sad demise of my mother-in-law. But she hung on. And won the day.
December 2006, she watched while Paru, another abandoned soul, picked up by me (a canine this time) had her litter of 7 puppies. (Paru, incidentally is my Parents’ pet 🙂 She stays with them and visits when they visit me. She loves being here, loves travelling by car!) See how Malu watches from above, on the stair, to the lot, ensconced under the stairs 🙂 A couple of months later, would you believe, she gets pregnant again! And this time she labours and labours and after a lonnnng time, she delivers a still born. It seemed she was not destined to have a litter that lived. She got over it, and we buried yet another little newborn kitten.
This is Paru, with her litter under the stairs, warm and cosy 🙂
And this is Malu watching her from above, on the stairs, her fav. place 🙂
Six months down the line, she does it again, and I was at my wits end, knowing what was going to happen. This time she chose to give up heaving mid afternoon, when the Vet. Hospital usually has no OP. We rushed, anyway with her, directly to the Surgery. Again, Lady Luck stood by. Our usual Vet. Dr Rajan Kutty was about to take class for a set of Senior Students, and the moment he saw me, he came over. After the usual examination, he said he would operate, and this time I begged him to get her uterus out, permanently. He said he’d try. And his classful of students got the rare opportunity of participating in a feline C-section. An hour later he came and said she had two still born kitten, but then he had successfully managed to remove the uterus. A sigh of relief. But the worry was whether she would make it out alive. Well, she’s a cat, isn’t she, he said. Cheerfully. And the wonder of it was that she did.
Malu had lived through so many miracles already. Each time something happened, and I did not see her sometimes for a day or two together (you probably remember Paru, the one with the 7-pup litter- well she was extremely fond of Malu, and would always get after her to lick her down thoroughly, and so Malu took to fleeing whenever Paru visited. She came back at meal times choosing a spot that Paru could not get her at. Finally we took to having a room locked up, upstairs where Malu could remain undisturbed by Paru when we all got together. That would be 4 dogs (My Chinnu, the lab., Appu, an alsation, my parents’, Paru, my parents’ and Kuttan, Paru’s first born, and mine :D) and a Cat, during Full House 😀
There was no reason I could think of for her to take ill suddenly, around 15th August, about 2 weeks ago. She refused to eat, and had only water. I let it go another day, till I noticed she was vomiting and was suddenly very weak. We had a houseful of family and guests for the Engagement of my sons (on 17th and 18th), and it was … well, very hectic. But I could not stand by and watch. So my YB and I (he is also a die hard cat lover) took her to visit the Vet. on 16 August. It was almost 4 pm. I went there, knowing there would not be a soul. But then you know by now that Malu rode on Angel wings (what is sad is that she flew away with them 😦 ).
We got there in time for us to catch a couple of students on their way out. When we explained the urgency, they took us to a Doctor in another building, who kindly agreed to look at her. The closed clinic area was opened by these two girls (God Bless them, ever!), and Malu was attended to. Given 50 ml drips, antibiotic, and glucose sub-cutaneous.
On the way home after her injections and the drips… This is such a darling moment 🙂 Taken by my YB.
The next day too, in the after noon, we took her and met a most insensitive doc. there who simply prodded and poked, and drew blood because she could not get a vein to give the drips. Anyhow, she managed that day too. The next couple of days, with all the travelling we did, we could only nurture her at home. Ensure she was force fed with fluid, esp Glucose and nutrient. She did not seem to show much improvement, though she moved from one part of the shelf where she was to another, and lapped up water. No food yet.
My brother had to leave. He suggested I buy Whiskas, pet food for cats that he gives his. Guaranteed to boost her, he said, but she would not eat still. On 20th, when my guests finally left (I had to go and see them off at the station), and I was returning I got the call. My brother from Arkonam, telling me go home ASAP. My sister in law was to leave the next morning, and she was there, checking in on Malu, and found her lying quite still.
Heart in mouth, I raced, and one look told me everything. Still refusing to believe entirely, I called a parent of a student who is a Vet at the same place and she asked me to come home. My sister in law and I sped, I called the boys and told them to follow from town. By then I was slowly but surely dissolving into the terror of tears. A part of me refused to accept it – that her Luck was actually running out. I hoped. Fiercely. But on that table where she lay in the Doctor’s house, she did not revive.
The Doctor said that there was a viral among felines and many such cases were being reported, and many cases were fatal. It was little consolation. By then the boys arrived. And that was when I broke down. My precious baby. My Malu. The SB gathered me and gently put me and Malu into the car and drove us home. He then arranged the burial, the way we do , the samadhi, with Salt in the grave. The FB, stoic and silent always, and the SB, deeply attached to her, and me, along with my sister in law and my domestic help, her greatest friend, all of us stood there and just cried. For three of us, it was great big heaving sobs…
The guilt. That is what comes back to me time and time again. I should have made time to take her back to the hospital, somehow. But I got caught up with the functions. With the travelling. With things I could have not done… The guilt. I lingers in ways that catches me unawares, and brings with it a flood of memories you cannot handle. Finally, the tribute to her my SB gave was this, Amma, he said, at least she waited till we were done with the functions and the guests. See? How little she troubled us? How she knew when the last guest was leaving. How accommodating she has always been.
I know I will never adopt a Kitten again. I’ve had many and I love cats, as much as I do dogs. But I’ve developed a fragile constitution all of a sudden, where the feline members are concerned. Well, who knows, I may too… but right now Malu has spoiled me for any other 🙂
Bless you my Angel, I know you’re in a better place for sure, but I sure miss you like hell! I know we’ll meet up after Paradise, in yet another lifetime; we can’t not 🙂 🙂
30 August, 2011
PS. Another favourite blogger Shail’s posts on her Pepper the Kitteh and Nibbles had me thinking of her, Malu , so much, that I just had to pour this out. Sheer unadulterated rambling 🙂