Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pretty bad when you don't even recognize your own kid...

About 18 months ago Miguel found a box of 8 kittens dumped at the side of the road. Of course he brought them home and said "Guess what I've got"? I could hear the babies crying in the box out on the golf cart, so it wasn't hard to guess. A box of kittens no older than a couple of weeks - dirty and hungry. We put them in the tub with food and water and called Delfino.

Delfino said it was up to me what he did with the kittens - put them down (which he hates to do and was not an option for us) or get them healthy and put them up for adoption. He said we could keep them at the house while they got healthy, but I knew what that meant - they all would be with me for the rest of their lives. I told him to take them to the clinic and I would pay for their care while they awaited adoption.

We found out the story behind the kittens from someone in La Gloria. The day before some kids had found the box of kittens and were going around the neighborhood looking for someone to take them. With no takers, the kittens were put back in the street. So, very young kittens went more than a day (possibly longer) without food or water. It made me sick to think about it, because there are other options here. People can take the kittens to Delfino, for free, and no matter what happens to them there, at least they will not suffer like they would in the streets.

We checked in a couple of days later, and two of the kittens had died - they were too weak and sick. All the kittens were full of parasites. Delfino got them cleaned up, fed, wormed, and settled into the clinic. Several got adopted out over the next few weeks. Two black kittens were still there after a month, and Delfino told us the chance of them getting adopted was low - Mexicans don't tend to like black cats.

So we brought Minina and Chaquiste home to live up on the upper terrace. Once the kittens were big enough, they started jumping up on the wall, which gave me fits. And sure enough, one day when I was away, Miguel came home to find a small black kitten sitting in front of the front door. Chaquiste had fallen from the third floor, apparently unharmed. Miguel picked him up and returned him to the upper level.

When I got back from my trip, I checked Chaquiste to make sure Miguel had brought in the right cat and not a stray that looked like Chaquiste. I came to the conclusion that the kitten was indeed Chaquiste. But now I wonder. As Chaquiste got older he started looking different than his sister, and his personality was nothing like the sweet Minina. But he was Chaquiste, at least to us.

About the same time that we got the kittens, we noticed a small black cat out in the street. A wild cat. And there were times that one of our kittens got out and we tried to round up that other black cat thinking it was one of ours. The cat would always run off, and eventually we would find our own cat. But it got harder to tell them apart.

Sadly, Chaquiste died this spring - caught in a trap for wild animals and died of heat exhaustion. It was a horrible time for all of us. That night I saw that other black cat next door and I called it, hoping that maybe the 'real' Chaquiste was still alive and running around (I knew better, but grief plays tricks). The cat ran off, of course.

Now Minina is getting really good at escaping. Sometimes we're driving down the road, coming home, and that black cat will be walking along the road. I call it - "Minina"? - and it runs off. But it runs just like Minina, and its body is identical to Minina; it may be the original Chaquiste afterall, and the one we raised was an imposter.

It's always a relief to open the door to the house and find Minina safely inside. It's like seeing double - first the cat in the street that looks like Minina, and then the cat in the house, that also looks like Minina. Minina has a small bump on the top of her head from falling off something when she was small, and it never fully resolved. The only way I would know for sure it was my 'kid' would be to catch it and feel around for the bump. Anyone else have that kind of problem identifying your kids?


Life's a Beach! said...

Love this story Sue! And so sorry about Chaquiste. That's heart-wrenching. :(

Islagringo said...

That other cat has to be related in some way. Maybe a half sibling from a former or later litter? Mother or father perhaps? Do you remember that family of cats that used to hang out by Fredy's? They were white and all had a black spot on the top of their head and a black tail. Some strong genetics at work there!

Ann said...

All our cats have been rescues & we've even used the same names after some have passed away--I think we counted & have had 18-20 over the last 25 years. The most we've had is 7. Glad you have had space in your home & heart for a few!

Sue said...

Islagringo - I DO remember those cats at Fredy's. I think they are still there, but now closer to Angelo's? And I'm not sure about the black cat in the street being related because the kittens came from La Gloria, but it's possible. We realized just how many black cats there are here once we got ours - SOMEBODY likes black cats other than us as they are not all strays.

Beck - Chaquiste's story is a sad one, I will write about it one day once I can look at his pictures.

Jamqueen - starting about 3 years ago, we've adopted 6 strays, and we currently have 4 (3.5, actually), because Jimmy (Lab) and Chaquiste died this spring. It has been a hard year. And there are always strays out there looking for an opportunity to join the club.

Islaholic Trixie said...

We had a black cat for 14 years. She was a sweetheart. Now we have our Hacker, who wandered up to our house shortly after moving in.
I sure hope that some day Isla will be able to control the pet population.

Sue said...

Brenda - we had a black cat in Canada too. Midnight - she lived more than 17 years. Only had one eye after the dog took out the other one when she was a baby, but it never seemed to affect her. All our pets in Canada came from the humane society. Here, they just come from the street. I too hope we can get better control here, but I still get asked why we took off Loco's 'huevos', like it was a terrible thing to do to a male dog. It's cultural, they see things differently, so it is going to take a lot of time before we see major changes, I think. In the meantime, those I can't keep I send to the vets, and pay for their keep, and hope they get lucky and find a home. But living here is not easy - always something to break your heart.