An angel arrived to help, and now she needs help

2013-08-30 00:00

SHE was a deep, rich calico with a broad white bib and scattered shades of red and light. Joseph’s dream coat over a moggie physique. Young, not far from kitten-hood.

Leslie had switched on the sprinklers in the garden of the Methodist Church in the middle of town one beautiful winter morning towards the end of June and she appeared from the shrubbery like a sylph from the spray, dragging a thin length of colourful cloth that could have been ripped from Joe’s coat itself.

She draped herself around Leslie’s ankle as if they had never been apart and demanded her attention. The cloth untied, her persistence paid off and she was fussed over while the garden was tended to. At a time, when tea was the calling, they made their way to the church reception. Bread was found and milk was ladled over it. This was demolished, as was another meal. Then the newfound companion made herself at home on a chair in the muted winter sun. She was still there some hours later when Leslie had completed her gardening tasks. Tummy full, very content, udder engorged. Udder? Mammary gland? Boobs? This meant kittens. They looked everywhere and asked everyone. No sign of youngsters and Mum did not appear at all concerned. She showed no sign of agitation and concern for family lost. Eventually, home time and the cat curled up on her lap in the driver’s seat as she made her way towards the northern suburbs. Leslie could not take her home, that was for sure, so she stopped in at the local vet clinic. She had got to know Wendy quite well over the years and had been helped with other waifs and strays in the past. “No problem,” she said, and made the cat at home in one of the kennels.

The next morning, she was already a favourite with the clinic staff with her loving, extroverted nature and she strutted around the clinic as if it was her divine right to be there. But her boobs were uncomfortably enlarged. Wendy made a call. Colleen often helped out by hand-raising orphan kittens. “Yes,” she said. “I have a litter — four weeks old. Two of them are not doing as well as the others on the bottle, so it will be worth a try.” Two little ginger bundles of fur were delivered, not exactly co-ordinated with the multicoloured mother, but close enough. The cat was delighted. She licked them, nursed them, made those soft maternal calls that mothers of all species would recognise, and lay on her back presenting her milk. But they were not interested. They had been on the bottle for too long. Their attitude reminded the observer of those occasional toddlers at the mall who are more interested in sweets than a good meal. They scampered around the clinic office and, when confined, paid little attention to the pleading mother cat. It was much more interesting climbing the bars of the cage and indulging in rough and tumble with each other than tugging onto little fleshy pimples smothered in fur. But as the day progressed and their tums emptied, they became less precious and more attentive to the adult presence. Eventually, one latched, then the other.

They stayed overnight and Colleen picked them up the next day. The cat came in on her own, but went out with a family, the kittens firmly convinced that the bottle was for the birds when the real deal was at hand. At Colleen’s house, the other two bottle-fed siblings also got in on the act and the family flourished. Angel was her acquired name and she lived up to it. Time went by, however, and owners were found for the kittens. It is less easy to home an adult cat. One by one they left and she was eventually family-less once more. It was time for her next adventure. I visited the SPCA recently. The occupant of cage C5, middle row, is a friendly cat with a broad white bib and a coat that looks like the mixture on an artist’s palette. I put my hand in and she rubbed up against it, purring loud enough to be heard in Sobantu. She is just biding her time, waiting to be homed. Is there anyone out there who will give her one? All she needs is love. She deserves it.

• The writer is a practising vet.

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