This is a story of an enlightened cat, though right now, we are just at the beginning of our tale. Though this cat wasn’t part of the original community of cats that I describe in my book ‘My Street Cats’, he was the son of one of the females in that community. His name is Shnuki.
Shnuki was born to a litter of four kittens, all of them colored black and white. When they first arrived, I thought a clan of Dalmatians had taken over the garden, for that is exactly how they appeared from afar. Shnuki was the weakest of the four, and yet so incredibly, overwhelmingly sweet. Like his siblings, he followed his mother’s lead and was absolutely terrified of me, running away the moment they saw me and vanishing in an instant.
All four kittens grew up in my garden, but like all previous litters that their mother had brought to me to feed, they were incredibly sickly. One after the other they caught a series of diseases, some of them quite serious.
Shnuki was no exception. He became so ill that we were forced to catch him, bring him to the vet, who then diagnosed an incurable eye infection and remove one of his eyes. Shnuki couldn’t be kept at the vet’s clinic for long since he wouldn’t tolerate being in a cage, and so soon afterwards we released him back to his family.
On the one hand, you see, Shnuki was a very frail cat, but on the other hand he was a cat who definitely knew his own mind.
Shnuki captured my heart when winter arrived. After the first rains, I went out to the garden with cat food. His brothers and all the other cats that I fed at the time quickly got up and came towards me. Shnuki didn’t move. I looked at him and saw that he was trying to get up and falling, trying and falling. I quickly divided the food between the other cats and put all the plates on the ground. I ran towards Shnuki and picked him up. He let me do that. He didn’t try to resist in any way; he just leaned into my hands.
I quickly brought him indoors and took out the emergency cat supplies that I’d kept in the basement for three years: a cat bed and a litter box. The box I immediately filled with the litter that I had bought for my pergola cats (more on them in ‘My Street Cats’) and the bed I put at the foot of the stairs, opposite the front door so that Shnuki would see that he could get out should he wish to do so. I placed Shnuki on the cat bed, and brought him cat food mixed with antibiotics. He ate it all, including the antibiotics. I placed a bowel of water near his bed and decided that I’d give him some space and see what would happen.
I went into the living room to watch the evening news. Halfway through the program I couldn’t take it anymore. I was curious and growing “curiouser and curiouser” by the minute. Since he hadn’t followed me into the living room, I assumed that Shnuki was in his bed.
I finally looked up and there he was, not on the top floor, mind you, but on the stairway landing between the floors. He lay there, sound asleep, without a care in the world. I guess he realized that he was safe there, and that he could use it as an escape route should the need arise. I looked at his litter box and cried out in joy. He had both pooped and peed in there! And that is how Shnuki became a fixed feature in my house and in my heart.
From that moment on Shnuki became the child that I had never had. If that sounds a bit dramatic, so be it. He really was like an infant in his frailty and dependence on me. And that’s how I remember him to this day. But more on that to follow.
|Relaxing together in the evening in our favorite armchair. It used to be mine, but now Shnuki lets me share it.|