Chessy, Jinx, Inkblot, Celadon. Those are the names that I tried to attach to my latest crush here in Tonga – a black male kitten. I found him mewing outside the office one afternoon about a month ago, so young that his eyes were still turquoise blue. I took him home, accepted my neighbors’ box as a den for him, and folded a little towel up for him to lie on inside the box (set on its side like a cave, protected by a little wooden stool on my back porch). He recognized safety and food, and stayed there.
Cats are feral here, and scavenge the garbage, so we regularly leave scraps by the garbage for them (and dogs too). But this kitten was so young he didn’t even know he was supposed to be afraid of me, and I knew he didn’t stand a chance of finding food on his own. He weighed less than a kilo and fit in my apron pocket. He slept there for over an hour his first evening with us - after I got a Christmas picture of him!
Jim was very tolerant of my choice to rescue this kitten. We laughed at him when he would hiss and spit at the leaves of the plants blowing in the breeze. We smiled as we watched him chase a plastic bag bunched up at the end of a piece of string. We chuckled when he wrestled with a piece of netting (like onion bags). And one of the reasons I could not settle on a name for him was because of his “helter skelter” move. This tiny little kitten would arch his back, stick his tail straight in the air, fluff out all his fur to make himself as big as possible, and then he would walk, stiff-legged, AT AN ANGLE. He looked like he was straight out of a cartoon!
There were quiet, loving moments, too – especially during these last few days. He came with me to the office a few times, and curled up between my arms while I worked on the computer, for two hours at a time. He climbed up on me while I watched TV and tucked himself under my chin. And he even got so he rode on my shoulder as I walked around. Not much of a wild cat left in him. His eyes changed color to a beautiful celadon green, and his black fur became shiny and long, with good nutrition. But he's still growing into his ears...
I had to accept the fact that I could not be the permanent owner of this cat. Well, today, I was carrying him outside my unit and one of the school secretaries came up in her car, and exclaimed about the kitten. I told her I was looking for someone to adopt him, that he was totally dependent on being fed, and she said, “I’ll take him. I’ll take care of him, and make sure he’s happy.” I trust this woman, and I handed her the kitten. He curled up against her as she took him. Before she left, I made her promise to let me visit!
I miss my little Tongan crush. I keep looking for him in the corner of my bedroom, or under the desk, or out on the back porch, but he’s gone. Still, I have the comfort of knowing he’s loved, he’s safe, he’s cared for. What more could a foster mother want?