ITIM na pusa!

A few days ago, a kitten that my wife took in named Fievel died on us. We hadn’t really expected him to live long. He was in bad shape. The person she took him from had found him in a pile of garbage, and was planning on throwing him back in, but she agreed to take him instead. She wanted Fievel to die warm, happy, and fed, if he was going to die. Unfortunately, he did die. I suppose that left a gap that my wife wanted to fill, so she found a new kitten to adopt.

Originally, she was supposed to adopt a kitten named Nala that was 3 months old. We’re still not sure what happened to Nala, or why the person we were going to get her from chose to offer us this cat instead, but she did. It seemed like an amusing twist of fate though. Here’s why:

My wife is from the Philippines and of course she speaks Tagalog. She’s been trying to get me to learn some of it, and it’s an interesting language. I’ve always wanted to speak a second language. I studied Spanish for a while too, because my mom’s side of the family speaks it. I could probably perfect my Spanish with enough diligence, but I haven’t been able to muster up the desire to do it yet. Anyways, my wife seems intent on me learning some Tagalog, so I started studying it on my own a bit. I acquired a copy of a program called Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is a language learning software for most any language you can think of. It’s a fantastic program and you can learn another language in leaps and bounds with it. I highly recommend it!

Learning a new language always starts with the basics: numbers, dates, simple words, and of course, colors. After you learn a few of those basic words it starts teaching you simple phrases based on what you already know, to start teaching you sentence structure. One phrase was “Itim na pusa.” This was coupled with things like “puti na ibon” and “dilaw na isda.” My wife would come home sometimes and ask me if I’d learned anything new. So, I would tell her a few phrases and she would get a laugh out of it.

One day we were walking from the hawker area back to our place. We were almost at the elevator doors, when I looked over and saw a cat laying down on the cement, looking at me. I wasn’t really thinking about it, but I pointed and said, in a loud, confident voice, “ITIM na pusa!” My wife looked at me, then looked where I was pointing and had a great laugh over it. I started laughing too. The cat didn’t seem to care, but after that I would say “ITIM na pusa!” every time I saw it. It became sort of a joke, and sometimes she would ask me to say it even when we were just sitting around the house. I guess the way I say it is amusing.

So, like I was saying earlier, we were supposed to get a cat named Nala from the woman my wife had contacted. When the woman showed up, she showed up with a black cat. After the usual chatter about taking care of it, and if it needed wet or dry food, etc, etc, my wife asked if the cat had a name yet. The woman replied that no, it didn’t. So, my wife said she thought I had a name for it. I looked at the cat and said, “ITIM na pusa!” We were laughing about it, but the joke went over the lady’s head. She’s Singaporean, so she didn’t understand the Tagalog.

Now, this cat has a sentence for a name, but it’s still amusing. His name is “Itim na pusa,” or Itim for short. For anyone who hasn’t worked it out, “Itim na pusa” means something like “The black cat,” or the “The cat is black.” I think “pusang itim” would be “black cat.” This is the first cat we have that we’ve named ourselves, and it’s great to have a reason and a story to go behind it.

Fievel Goes To Heaven

This morning I was sitting at my computer in the room after just having gotten out of bed, checking my e-mail. My wife came in and said in a serious tone, “Fievel is gone.” She was trying to be tough, but then she sat down on my knee and broke down, saying that she was so sad. So, I asked where Fievel was, and she told me that he was in the living room, in a small box she had lined with towels so he could rest in the sunlight while she was cooking lunch.

We went out to the living room and I saw the box sitting on the couch. I shifted the towels and saw Fievel laying there on his side. He could have been sleeping, but his chest wasn’t moving. I poked at him a bit, tickled his belly and rubbed the back of his head, but he didn’t move. So, I picked him up and listened for breath and felt for a heartbeat, but he truly was dead.

We got Fievel just over a week ago. Someone had abandoned him in a pile of garbage and one of my wife’s coworkers picked him up. Well, actually her dog picked him up, but she brought him home, and my wife, being the cat lover that she is, volunteered to take Fievel in, in the hopes that he would recover. She went over to her friend’s house after a long day at work and brought Fievel home.

When I first saw Fievel he was in pretty bad shape. He was filthy and crying. He was crapping blood and struggling weakly. He cried quite a bit too. We did what we could for him. We gave him a bath in warm water to clean him up and made sure he ate. The strange thing was that he didn’t want to eat. We had to force him to drink special kitten milk that we got for him. For a few days Fievel seemed to improve. The bloody crapping stopped and he seemed to get stronger, but then I noticed that he had a serious infection in one of his eyes. There was quite a bit of pus, which I tried my best to clean up. He still seemed to be doing ok though, and I still had hopes he might recover. Yesterday though, my opinion of the situation changed. Fievel had been keeping his infected eye closed, which is understandable, but yesterday I noticed that he was keeping both of his eyes closed and when I checked I realized that the infection had spread. He couldn’t walk anymore either. When he tried to, he would fall over and then he seemed too weak to be able to get up. He would try, then fall back over and pass out where he was. I talked to Margee about it and we were considering whether taking him to the vet was a good idea, or whether it was just too late. Then this morning, my wife took him to the living room to get some sun. She sat there for a bit, petting him, and he seemed to take comfort from that. He meowed weakly a few times and settled into the towel, and then he died.

At least we can be satisfied that we took him in and gave him a chance to live, when someone else had simply thrown him in the garbage. We kept him as comfortable as we could and made sure that he was fed. We held him often, because he liked it so much. He even purred when cradled in one of our arms, which I thought was amusing. The kitten was so small, but it already knew how to purr. One of our other cats, Dapper, was finally getting over her jealousy and was taking a liking to Fievel. She would stop by the carrier we were keeping him in to check on him, and would often walk up and give Fievel a few sniffs when he was exploring the floor. So, at least Fievel died comfortable and knowing that someone was caring for him. How cruel would it have been to leave him in the trash, to die alone in the heat, or to be eaten by something?

My wife prepared a shoebox and I gently laid Fievel into it. Then she covered him with a cloth and some newspaper and then I taped up the box, and wrote a few words on it. While she went to finish preparing lunch, I took Fievel out and placed him into the trash chute. It seemed a wrong and almost disrespectful way to send him on his way, but where in Singapore do you bury pets? It doesn’t matter much though, Fievel was already gone. Still, I hesitated when it came time to push the chute closed.

I suppose he chose a good time to go. My wife happened to be off from work today. At least she was here to spend some time with him and she got to see him off. I’m sure she would have felt worse if she had been at work and I had told her what had happened when she got home. We didn’t have Fievel long, but he had become part of our little family. I was never too interested in cats, but it’s hard to have any pet and see it die, no matter how short a time you’ve had it. It’s even harder to have a young pet die on you. This is the first time I remember having a pet pass away on me since my hamster died in Germany when I was a kid. I still remember my dad burying it in the woods there. I’m consoled by the fact that we did our best for Fievel and he died comfortably.

Shokudo

This sign wasn’t thought through to well was it? I took this photo last night while my wife and I were walking up and down Orchard Road looking at the Christmas decorations and taking pictures. We were coming out of one of the malls where we’d stopped to have dinner at Subway. When we saw the sign we both cracked up laughing!

Apparently there’s a new Shokudo establishment that has just opened, but what exactly is on the menu? Judging by where the illustrated guy’s hand is, do I really want to know? Shall we have one serving or two?

My wife told me I should write about it. Shokudo definitely serves… interesting… food. A couple of months ago a new Shokudo Japanese Pasta restaurant opened at a mall downtown near Orchard Road. I think it’s called Cineliesure Orchard. When I had first come here in March for a few weeks we saw that it was being built. It looked like it was going to be a well set up restaurant and we were excited to see what it was going to be. So, a few months ago when it was finally open we went to check it out. The name of the place kind of put us off. Who associates Japan with fine pasta? There was a long line of people waiting to eat there though, so we thought it must be great! We were disappointed, unfortunately.

The service there was great. I’ll give them that. The employees are friendly, attentive, and our food was brought to us without much of a wait. Plus, it’s in a great location. Depending on where you sit you can look out onto the street below, which is usually bustling with people, or you can look out on the mall. The mall is designed so that the center is open from top to bottom, with stores around the outside edge of the building. You can see quite a bit from the railings, and from the tables in Shokudo. The prices were a bit steep, but from what we’d seen of the restaurant we took it in stride. Most good restaurants have high prices here. The food itself was the let down. I can’t comment on what my wife ate, except that she said it wasn’t very good. She didn’t even finish half of the dish. My dish had a bland, homogeneous taste. The whole thing tasted the same, from the sauce and what was in it to the pasta. It all had an overbearing, unpleasant fishy taste to it. I didn’t finish my meal either.

So, that was the first and last time we went to Shokudo. Now, for all of our pasta needs, we stick with Pastamania. It’s cheaper by half, and twice as good. Not to mention that there’s a Pastamania in sight of this Shokudo restaurant. The Cathay Cineleisure has a great movie theater in it. It’s the one we go to the most. It advertises that it has the only fully THX certified sound system in Singapore. Plus, it’s comfortable and shows all the new movies. So, when we want to eat pasta before we watch our movie, Pastamania is where we go.

Fievel Goes West… way way west… to Singapore

My wife sent me an e-mail the other day from work and told me that a friend of hers had found a kitten. Well, it wasn’t really her friend that found it. Her friend’s dog picked it up out of the trash and brought it to their HDB flat. She said her friend didn’t want to keep the kitten and was looking for someone to take care of it. She started asking me if it would be ok if we took it in for a while. She seemed to really want it, so I agreed.

She told me that we would pick up the cat on Monday, but she e-mailed me on Tuesday I believe, saying that she was going to go get it then. Apparently the kitten was sick and her friend was scared it was going to die on her. My wife said her friend was thinking of just dumping the kitten back where she found it and leaving it there. That’s not really the point of this blog entry, but what kind of sick bastard would just dump a kitten somewhere to die? So, she went and got it right away and brought it here. Luckily I have a cat carrier handy that’s serving as its home for now.

The kitten looks more like a little rat to me. At best guess it can’t be more than a week and a half old. It didn’t seem to want to eat at all. It still fights when it’s feeding time. We’ve been forcing it to drink milk. When we first brought it here it was really weak and it did seem that it was going to die. Now it’s a lot more lively. We both think it will pull through. I did a little reading up on kittens and it seems that there may be some behavioral issues with this kitten in the future. If they’re separated from their mother too early they can have problems relating to other cats. I think it will be fine though.

We came up with the name Fievel for it because we’d recently re-watched the movie An American Tale and I commented that it looked like a little rat. So, my wife said we should call it Fievel and it stuck. Sometimes she sings that song from the movie, “Somewhere out there…” to the kitten while she’s feeding it. It’s amusing. We’re not too sure if Fievel is a boy or a girl, but either way Fievel is a decent name.

Our other two cats have been acting strangely since we brought the kitten in. Dapper went through a phase where she was very jealous and defensive. She’s slowly becoming less aggressive and more curious. I was starting to get tired of hearing her hiss at the cat carrier where Fievel is. Bouncy on the other hand has become twice the hateful bitch she used to be.

Hopefully they’ll all learn to get along.

Jailbird Cats

So, I’ve been living with my cats for about 5 months now. These are my first pair of cats as pets. It’s been quite a learning experience. They both have very different personalities, which was surprising to me. Dapper is outgoing, tries to be cute all the time, and wants attention. Bouncy would just as soon not do anything but lay around all the time. She gets mad and tries to run away more often than not when I want to pet her. When she does want to be petted she goes at it retard style. I’ll go more into that another time.

These cats are weird. Both of them. They seem spoiled and snobby. They even come off as arrogant sometimes. My wife says that Bouncy and Dapper are spoiled and out of control. She said her cats in the Philippines weren’t like this. I’ve done my best to train the two of them over the months but they still seem to do whatever they want to do, just when I’m not looking.

One thing I’ve been adamant about is that they not climb up into the windows. I know my mom’s cats like to lay on the windowsill in the sun sometimes. The windows we have don’t have sills though, and they don’t look out onto a balcony like my mom’s. These windows have a sort of grill over them that the cats like to climb, but outside the window is a 13 floor drop to hard pavement. The holes in the grill are big enough for them to climb through easily too. At one time I had hoped that we would be able to open the windows sometimes for fresh air, but I guess that’s not going to happen. The cats would run straight through them thinking there was something to jump onto on the other side. I’ve seen them try to run through the glass before. No amount of yelling or spanking has persuaded them to give up on the windows either.

Another issue has been my computer desk. I do not want them on it. I don’t want to run the risk of them knocking over my laptop or bluetooth keyboard or mouse. Not to mention the external hard drives I have set up. Dapper doesn’t really bother with my desk too much that I’ve seen, but from the start Bouncy has had a retard fascination with jumping up onto it. I say retard because I’ve really laid into her verbally and later physically to try to convince her that nothing can come of being on my desk but heartache and pain. It doesn’t register with her though. One time, I came home from being out and walked through the bedroom door just in time to see Bouncy finishing up a long pee on the notebook beside my laptop. I suppose she was determined to convince me that the desk was her territory, not mine. She had a very hard lesson that day and it wasn’t long after that I purchased a cage for them.

Now, whenever we go out, even if only briefly, they get put in the cage. I would have to say that the cage is probably the most worthwhile thing I’ve bought concerning them. Of course, they don’t like it much but it has provided me with a lot of peace of mind. Every so often I’ll leave them out when I go out, to test them and see if they’ll behave. Invariably they screw it up. I’ll come back to find things knocked over everywhere. Clothes will be pulled out of drawers onto floors, the curtains will be thrown around from them playing in the windows, and all other manner of disaster. So, the cage is still getting quite a bit of use.

Another thing that cage has been good for is getting a good night’s rest. When we first got these two, they would play all day and then at night they would want to sleep in the bed with us, usually on the pillows wrapped around our heads, or under the blankets by our feet. That was perfectly fine with me. Over time though they developed the habit of sleeping all day and then going nuts during the night when we are trying to sleep. They run into things, making lots of noise, and they’ll climb over us on the bed at full speed, scratching us and waking us up. Not to mention that me being asleep counts as one of those times when I’m not looking, so they go up on the desk and in the windows. I thought that putting them in the cage and forcing them to sleep at night would cause them to play during the day and then keep quiet during the night. That hasn’t worked though. They lay awake in the cage all night, doing nothing, then sleep all day and right about the time for bed, they go nuts and I have to catch them and put them up for the night.

I’ve slowly come to the realization that training these cats may be an impossible task. They will probably keep doing whatever they like, when they like, if they think they can get away with it. That really pisses me off when I think about it. They’re just cats. They should do what they’re told. That doesn’t seem to register with them though. So, when we’re out and about it’s the cage for them! Hopefully they’ll grow out of this. I’d hate to have to keep locking them up every time we leave and every night. There’s also the issue of having to leave them caged all day and all night too when I start working again. I don’t want to have to come home to a disaster area after a long day at work. If that’s what it comes to though, then these two will be jailbird cats for life!