PAW-RENT DI­ARY

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - by Jes­sica Chan

When your sassy cat rules you.

Adopt­ing Mimi was a slap­dash de­ci­sion. A friend, know­ing my ob­ses­sion with fe­lines, sent me a text one evening, “Can you find a home for her?”. Came at­tached was a photo of an adorable lap cat, all curled up and soundly sleep­ing. I tried to fight it, call­ing up friends from cat feed­ing com­mu­ni­ties and fos­ter­ers to see if any­one could take Mimi. But no one wanted to adopt a two-year-old kitty. She was deemed “too old” to be an at­trac­tive adoptee. Know­ing that she was go­ing to end up at the SPCA, I made an im­pulse de­ci­sion and said, “I’ll bring her home.”

Within days, she was with me. If I had time to con­sider, I might have had cold feet. Was I ready to take on a (sort of) spe­cial needs kitty? She had over­groomed her­self to the point she looked more like a Sph­ynx than the fluffy tabby I saw in the pic­tures, no thanks to the con­stant mov­ing

be­tween fos­ter­ers. She was ex­tremely skit­tish, shy­ing away from me yet stay­ing within view in this whole new world (my room). The mo­ment that stole my heart was, per­haps, when she climbed up to check out my mir­ror, saw me and stared for a good minute. It was as if she’d given me some sort of silent ac­knowl­edge­ment, that I was go­ing to be a part of her life from now on.

Lit­tle did I know that this sweet, shy fa­cade was all a ruse. Once the lit­tle minx got fa­mil­iar with her new king­dom (my room), she ran it. My pre­cious col­lec­tion of books has be­come her “cat tree”, while she leaves the 1.8m struc­ture I spent $80 on and the en­tire day build­ing un­touched; my stuffed toys are her scratch­ing posts and what­ever’s on my plate is hers. And that’s when she’s happy.

Mak­ing a mark

Like any young cou­ple, I would of­ten spend time at my part­ner’s home. That might mean an en­tire 24 hours ab­sent from Mimi’s life. I held this back for a cou­ple of months, un­til I was sure she was com­fort­able. I went ahead and, alas, my mom called me in the morn­ing, laugh­ing, “Your Mimi just pooped at the en­trance of your room.” While I grav­i­tated to­wards the pos­si­bil­ity of a med­i­cal con­di­tion, the ac­cu­racy of where she did her busi­ness proved oth­er­wise.

Un­for­tu­nately for me, that was just the be­gin­ning. If the clock struck 12 and I wasn’t home, it was al­most cer­tain I would be com­ing home to a bed soaked in Mimi’s protest. Played with other pets—par­tic­u­larly dogs—and left the in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence (my clothes) in the vicin­ity of her space? Did not put her majesty’s pre­ferred level of lit­ter? Tried to put a har­ness on her in an at­tempt to walk her? Not fill­ing up her wa­ter bowl when she wanted it? I’d get a huge, wet patch of dis­ap­proval. And I knew it wasn’t a med­i­cal con­di­tion be­cause she would al­ways do it at the ex­act spot I’d sleep ev­ery night.

Rep­ri­mand­ing her ob­vi­ously did noth­ing. She put on her puss-in-boots face, and I’d just let it go. By let­ting it go, I meant sleep­ing in the liv­ing room like a dis­graced hus­band.

The silent treat­ment

My nightly rou­tine in­volves leav­ing my door slightly ajar, giv­ing Mimi the free­dom to come and go as she pleases. She would al­ways sleep with me but the noc­tur­nal preda­tor in her DNA saw her zoom­ing around the house in the night.

One Tues­day night, tired from a work event, I crashed straight into bed – I for­got to open the door for her. Oh boy, was she an­gry. But I didn’t get scratches nor her trade­mark anger on my sheets. For three nights, she slept out­side on her favourite chair. She re­fused to look me in the eye, and didn’t re­spond to my pats, my calls and, most of all, she re­fused to eat. The lat­ter sent me into a frenzy. I thought she was sick. Daft me hadn’t fig­ured out she was an­gry then. I was about to send her to the vet, but my mother said she was fine. Why? She al­lowed my mother to man­han­dle her in any imag­in­able way. It be­came ob­vi­ous she was just do­ing it to me.

How was it all re­solved? I came home with a “bribe”. A can of new food for her, which I sup­pose she saw as an apol­ogy. She lapped it up, and with­out a sin­gle look at me, sat on my lap as if say­ing I’d been for­given.

On her own terms

You must be think­ing, why do I even bother with this wily fe­line? Sure, she wasn’t like the kit­ties I wor­shipped through YouTube, but she would wel­come me at the door. She would “pro­tect” me as I went to the toi­let, wait for me to have her din­ner, and even do lit­tle head bunts to ask me to head back to our room for a quiet, cud­dle ses­sion. The mo­ment I knew Mimi and I were meant to be was when I woke up one morn­ing, and she had found a way to curl up next to me (af­ter shov­ing my toys aside). Even as I type this, she’s sit­ting on my lap, slowly try­ing to edge my lap­top away with her fluffy paws.

I guess she does love, well, own me— just on her own terms.

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