Mothers’ Day Special: The Best Mother Tortie In The World

As appeared on Animal Rescue Chase

Featured on Care2 Causes: Animal Welfare

There’s this beautiful monastery by the hills of a conservatory forest in West Java, and I had an opportunity to stay there during a religious outing last December.

cikanyere square
A square in the middle of camping ground

What I love the most from the camp is the way the Carmelite sisters and brothers in the convent left the nature undisturbed, believing that nature, in itself, is God’s grace.

st theresia beehive
A beehive on the statue of St. Therese of Avilla is left undisturbed

The best part, is, of course: dinner, because at that time, various indigenous animals from nearby conservatory would go down to the smell of our food and peer to us. Two wild dogs even gone round the camp fire and naturally, got a fair share of healthy meal.

But my attention is rather drawn into a quiet, almost invisible presence near my group; a tortoise-shell cat who sit silently as she stares toward us. Whenever someone is leaving the circle one of the dogs would follow, and the cat would run away, so I think she must have been afraid of the dog. However, that night I put a plate of rice, chicken (from my group mate) and scrambled egg just outside my room, where she previously sat, and go to sleep.

The next day I wake up rather early, wondering how she is doing, and whether she ate the food I left for her, but I don’t need to wonder for long. There she is, curling up at the corner of my bed, peacefully asleep. For the next few days I keep putting a plate of rice and meat, but she only took the scrambled egg.

At the last night of the outing, I saw her strolled leisurely into my tent even before dinner, and curl up on my bed, so I skip dinner and follow her. She purrs when I stroke her. I figured she is familiar enough with me, so I put her plate inside the tent and watch her eat, as I say my good bye and offer her my apologies. Tomorrow we will see each other no more, and she will lose a warm and comfortable bed, but again, she only ate the egg.

Out of curiosity I tried to checked out her teeth, and only then found out that she doesn’t have teeth. None at all except for her lower left fang.

tortie toothless
Toothless Tortie

No wonder she is so thin. I cannot imagine how hard her life must be without ability to hunt or eat properly. So I decided that night that I would bring her home, and the next day, smuggle her in my knapsack so no one know that I’m carrying a cat back to town. Luckily all of my group is animal friendly so they just shrugged when they saw me empty my knapsack and roll all my things in newspaper. Josie’s antics strike again. Well, at least they don’t tell anyone.

Tortie is the kindest, gentlest, and most understanding cat I have ever known. She hardly move on our way home, so the bus driver didn’t know he had extra passenger.

It wasn’t easy for the both of us in the beginning. Tortie, knowing that she is defenseless, barely move from the corner of my bed. She just go down for a drink, when the other cats were not around, she ate long after the other finished, and went to the litter box in wee hour in the morning when everyone else is asleep. She stays as far away as possible from the other. Even when I tried to socialize her with the other cats, she prefer to stay in a small cage where I usually keep new kittens, and stay there the rest of the day.

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Tortie’s sanctuary

Even when I took her for spaying she just remain quiet that the vet marvel at her “sweetness”, more so because the vet is four hours drive from Bandung to the other end of Jakarta. She is amazed at how “calm” Tortie was during the journey, and she was sorry that despite all my effort to bring her to see the vet, a more senior vet than those in Bandung, she can’t explain how, and why Tortie lost all her teeth. She just told me that Tortie is probably little more than one year old, and that she is a smart and quiet in the forest, that she survived until she was found, and can’t imagine how she took care of her kittens, because without teeth, she won’t be able to carry them, nor defend them from predators.

And there were dogs in the camping ground….

I just don’t want to imagine. Tortie is with me now, and I am going to give her better days than a scary forest. With me her food is finely ground chicken meat, no bones or hard part, cat’s milk and her favorite egg, but without teeth, she practically lick and swallow whatever food that comes into her mouth. The lack of proper chewing probably contribute to her difficulties with stool (she litters one every two days) and her stomach bloat easily. She has to depend on digestive aid to properly digest her food. Anyhow, a month after she first arrive in our house, she finally have normal weight, and I arrange for a special consultation with a senior vet because she has “special need”.

tortie in my lap
Tortie on my lap, sedated for spaying. The curious brown dog belongs to the vet, and he thought every animals are his friend.

I can call it God’s grace, or fate’s play that one day I came to rescue a twin kitten I called “Tacos” and “Nachos”. I accidentally hit Tortie’s soft spot. Tortie reached out; she voluntarily adopt two kittens that I recently rescue, to the point of willingly nurse them despite her dried out breasts. She diligently groom the kittens and never left their side.

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Tortie nursing one of the twin kitten. If you look closely, you can see her only fang stuck out

With or without teeth, Tortie is a mother. She couldn’t carry Tacos or Nachos, but when she wants to move them, she will wait until the other cats were out for playing, or sleeping, and will call them to follow her. When she teach them how to jump, she will jump to the place she wanted them to be, and call and call and call pitifully until the kittens jump high enough to reach her, and then she will lick them, perhaps saying “good boys!”

If the kittens can’t do it even after hours of trying? That’s all right too. Tortie is still a mother, so she will jump down and lick the kitttens “That’s all right, we’ll try again tomorrow” and stroll back to the cage.

If the other cats got curious and got closer, she will growl, and slap them. Her nail grows in an alarming speed, despite regular clipping. Perhaps her bodily response for lack of defense in her other part.

With courage and great motherly nature, Tortie brought up Tacos and Nachos until they are old enough to be weaned, and finally got adopted.

Tortie, however, stays. No one would want to adopt a special need cat whose food cost more than her master, much less when the potential master also need to pay for a more expensive vet charges.

Even so, I am not burdened. I am happy to be with the sweetest cat in the world, the calmest and most courageous woman of all time, and most of all, the best mother imaginable.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Tortie. And to all mothers in the world.

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