Friday, February 03, 2017

Thinking of the Cats

When I came home last month, I was glad that some cats still managed to survive without me, thanks to the care of T. I was glad to greet Muffin when she came home very late from where ever it was in the neighborhood she was roaming.  But it’s only now, when I’m back here in Makati, that I realized I never really had the chance to go nearer and talk to the cats. 
Muffin, like most of the cats at home, had gone feral, anyway, so it was not a good idea to cuddle her. The last time I cuddled Muffin, she bit my hands, thinking perhaps it was part of the play.  She wasn’t aware that I was not a cat. But looking back now, I could have at least talked to Muffin. I could have at least watched her beautiful eyes, which reminded me of the   eyes of a priest or a general, the bright yellow discs in the midst of a pitch black fur that earned her the moniker, Batman Cat.
Now, I'm missing her.  
My mind was preoccupied with everything on my short stay home.  It was full of Upper B’la and its depressing condition. 
I was also moping over the loss of Oreo, who failed to return home weeks before my arrival. Titing told me Oreo failed to return home a week before her sister-in-law poisoned Titing’s cat and the cats in the neighborhood. I’m wondering if Oreo happened to wander in their area, as cats often do, and had unwittingly eaten the poisoned food they had prepared.
Oreo was a good cat. Three days before Pope Francis arrived in Manila, some boys had left three kittens at the door of the Inquirer office in Davao. That afternoon, some “rugby boys” were rounded up by the police and I was sad because those might be the boys I caught feeding the kittens.  
Isn't it the height of cruelty for the police to round up the boys who had the heart to feed the cats? Some school girls from Kapitan Tomas eventually found the cats, and one fetched a carton box to bring them home during dismissal time, but minutes after she was off carrying the carton of cats, we saw an angry woman accompanying her, furiously asking her to put the kittens back to where she picked them up.  We saw them at our office door. The angry mother said her daughter cannot keep the cats because she had asthma, but I did not believe her.
Three days before Pope Francis talked about mercy and compassion, I carried the three noisy kittens in a jeepney and realized you can actually tell the character of people by the way they treat a cat.  A woman who sat beside me, I eventually learned, had thrown numerous kittens in rivers and across Samal Island. The young guy across my seat found the kitten yucky though he did not want to show it.  But a skinny, middle aged man, gently called the cats, Miiing, Miiing.
Among the three cats, the yellow one we later called HenriMatisse was the survivor, for he voraciously ate the giniling I bought from the store to feed them; then, the black one we later called Oreo, awoke from her carton slumber and joined the yellow one.  The one who did not take interest in food, and which I initially thought was dying, was the grey kitten we later called Eponine.
Eponine, who proved to be the most intelligent among the three, did not survive when he was hit by a slamming door during a Low Pressure Area (LPA) wind in February 2015.  HenriMatisse, the cutest and the most human among the three, I left alone in B’la at the height of Pa’s ailment in Davao.  I always get this image of him, sniffing Oreo inside the catbag, trying to help Oreo out. I should have put him inside the bag, too, but I realized he’s been surviving well in the village, and bringing him along might disrupt the good adjustment he was having in the place. So, I carried Oreo all the way back to Davao, where Oreo pissed on my pants when we reached R. Castillo. I never found HenriMatisse after that and I've been aching for a yellow cat with an L-shaped tail ever since, that cat who once glided the terrace of a neighbor, perked his ears when he saw me, and had bounded the whole neighborhood distance in three leaps when I called his name.
Ja described Oreo as a cat no one could ever love, except me.  In fact, it was because Oreo was that kind of cat that precisely drew her to me.  But Ja was only looking at the color of the cat, which was black, with irregular splotches of yellow in between.  The yellow spots above her eyes made Ja want to get his black pentel pen to cover the spots with black paint.  But Oreo, just like the other cats, is endowed with grace of movement and an elegance innate to all cats.  She was also full of cat wisdom and intelligence. She became pregnant months after the Pope’s visit and triggered a cat population explosion in our struggling household.  What was funny and amazing about Oreo was she never mind feeding three generations of kittens on her breast at the same time, even if her milk was already drying out. 

This simple tribute is not enough to describe such a great cat as Oreo.

No comments: