Actually, that crazy cat lady is me.
I think it is appropriate to make an admission. I have come to the firm belief that there is a strong inter-connectedness in this world. Some people have an almost supernatural ability to make friends; some people the uncanny ability to make money; other people are just drawn to predicting the behavior of statistical phenomena. I get that some of this is native talent, enhanced by years of working at it, but some people are just able to shine in one or more area of human existence to such an extent that it just has to involve more than talent and hard work.
I know this, because I have one of these abilities, myself. Only my uncanny, almost supernatural ability is the ability to attract cats. I know the stereotype is that of the “crazy cat lady” and that cats are seen as fundamentally feminine and dogs as masculine, but I categorically reject these stereotypes. Regardless of my gender, I am very much a “cat person.” And the attraction is very, very mutual.
This is evidenced by my earliest childhood pictures; where I am seldom seen without arms-full of kittens. As a child, I would hunt mice with my cat, Lucky, having rigged up a harness which would allow me to lower the cat to the bottom of a grain bin, where Lucky would grab one of the many mice that lived there, eating grain, and then I would raise him up, and keeping the mice, live in my pockets until we’d caught them all. At that time, I would feed them to Lucky as a reward. We called him Lucky, because he was being eaten by a hog as a small kitten, and my father rescued him before the hog could swallow, then we nursed him back to health.
So, having established my bona fides as a “cat person” fast forward to my time in Afghanistan. Starting from the very first day in the country, cats have sought me out. I always had a couple cats around, even though life for a cat in Afghanistan is precarious. It helps for me to see cats not as individuals, (and I do name them, and love on them) but rather as a kind of “cat continuum.” For a few weeks, the cat is black; for the few weeks after that, the cat is orange. After that the cat is a kitten and gray in color. I know that most of these kitties pass on and are replaced by another, competing for scarce resources such as food, clean water and shelter, but I choose to love on the kitty in front of me.
There are rules to working in Afghanistan as a Westerner, you know. Those rules are made up by ISAF, the US military, and sponsoring agencies. And all of those organizations forbid the keeping of pets, as pets are known carriers of rabies. Well. All I can say is, “who am I to tell cats they cannot seek me out, like feline missiles with terminal guidance.
Some folks I lived nearby, spent an inordinate amount of time attracting and keeping cats. they probably spent a thousand dollars fixing up their area to resemble “kitty heaven” with all sorts of cat spa equipment, food and other diversions. Every single one of their kittens left their area and showed up one day outside my door, mewling piteously to be let in my room, and/or to be petted by me.
Seriously, I am not making this up. And I didn’t feed them, either. People would come to me, angry, about the caterwauling and accusing me of feeding them. Some of the cats, I DID allow into my room, and to play with Mr. Bunny. Cats like Mr. Bunny.
Some people say cats are worthless, but I disagree. They have obviously never heard of Afghan guardian kittehs.
These two stalwart characters kept watch, day and night; at least day and night during the hour or so they were not napping.
I’ve seen lots of insurgent kitten activity in Afghanistan. Especially on our military bases.
True story; one day I was down taking pictures of kitten, when an overly brave young kitten came over, grabbed my camera strap, snagging a claw on one paw, and as he tried to push the strap away with the other paw, he actuated the shutter, taking a kitty self-portrait.
I should’ve put a warning that that picture contains nearly lethal levels of “cute”.
Splotches was one of my first cats. As you can see from some of the pictures, she had a litter of kittens which were completely spoiled by others nearby. They still came to my place to pay respect to the Cat Godfather, though.
One of the most unusual cats I saw there was Spartacus. He is an albino orange tabby. Note that his eyes are closed, as he was extremely sensitive to sunlight due to his albinism.
One night Spartacus climbed into a box of computer mice and fell asleep. The sheer irony of this was worth taking a picture. One other day, during an important briefing, Spartacus came in, jumped up on the VTC machine, and yowled at 250 decibels, being heard literally around the world, and by people at the highest levels of government. The dirty looks thrown in my direction were manifold and I think if looks could kill I would be dead many times over.
Speaking of loud, this is the loudest cat on the face of the earth. Named “Tom Tiger” he was also a beautiful cat who lived much longer than any of the others in our area. A real survivor.
Ummm…. Something seems different about this picture. I guess I must admit, I do go both ways. I love puppies as well as kitties.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this intermission from my normal postings. Will have something a bit more serious and substantial next time, I promise.