Monday, April 6, 2009
The Cat Crept In
I saw the notice taped to a window of a coffee bar and sandwich shop in my neighborood, "Cat Needs a New Home" and thought, why not? It gets lonely sometimes in my latest neighborhood and C and I had had some fun a few years ago with a white female stray we'd adopted in Shenzhen and named Gato.
This one is "Figo," an overweight orange short hair previously owned for six years by a Latvian woman, Marina, and her son, who'd named him after Luis Figo, a Portuguese soccer star I'd never heard of til meeting his feline namesake.
"Figo you do not know of?" Marina asked incredulously. I just shrugged and said, "I'm American" and let that suffice. Our general ignorance of and indifference to soccer is well known in expat communities where the game's international appeal otherwise brings nations together for riots, stampedes and white knuckle matches that end 0-0.
Marina's son is in college in Germany now and as a new vicitm of the world econoomic crisis and China's collapsed textile export market Marina has to leave China without Figo, who it became quickly clear is virtually more than a son to her. There's no real cat pet culture in China yet, but she took me to a small international veterinary clinic to finish a round of shots for him - the "Rolls Royce Premium package" as the clinic manager described it while getting all my particulars.
Marina also wanted Figo's ears examined, convinced as she was that they were infected. The vet found nothing but finally worn down with Marina's increasing level of hysteria ("So red!" she said loudly, pointing to Figo's healthy looking pink inner ear and scrutinizing a clean, puss-free Q-tip the vet had used to probe for an infection) the doc gave her a small tube of what looked benign topical cream and told her to swab it on twice a day with a Q-tip. Then came a stranger request.
"You can measure cat blood types?" asked Marina. The vet explained that, yes, cats have blood types but finding out what they are is a long and very pricy procedure. "I vant to know vhat blood type is Figo," Marina grumbled. "For to tell his personality!" Some in Japan, Korea and China believe a blood type is like an astrological sign and I guess Marina was hoping it applied to cats as well. She was not only a hypochondriac for her cat but a seer.
They parted Sunday night when I met her outside my apartment as she walked lowslung and mournfully with her collection of cat gear and Figo zipped up in an oversized cloth satchel. She looked like an Eastern Europoean refugee and was weeping.
"I feel I have betrayed him!" she told me between sniffles. I felt genuinely bad for her and a Chinese friend with me simply looked very puzzled. ("It is only a cat," he told me later. "A very nice cat. But not a child.")
"It will be okay," I told Marina, patting her on her broad back - while thinking, "it's not like you're putting him on a cattle car to Auschwitiz or a restaurant in Guangzhou..."
Posted by Justin at 12:07 AM