She comes to us like an old friend; just like we stop short wherever we are going every time we see her.
Such a lovely sight; she always sits by the window of that tiny bridal boutique at the foot of the hill. Her long hair waves with the wind, white and gleaming under the sun.
Sometimes we saw the mistress of the house, sitting beside her, with food and treats, and we will pass by with a big smile on our faces, waving our love as we pass by. Sometimes we saw the master of the house, rising early before dawn with mop and broom, too busy to notice that she was watching every move, perhaps making sure the place is clean and tidy.
Then she had babies; four. We were so worried when we lost her for two months, but those tiny bundles of joy quenched our longing, and we were overjoyed to see her safe with the whole family.
Just next month after, she was alone. It was too early to see children off to adulthood, but she is not ours.
Not long after, another batch of babies. She still looks regal by that window, but her eyes are just tired. Of course, three months rearing babies and by the fourth she carries another batch.
Three months and her babies are gone. One month later go back to pregnancy.
Three other months of motherhood, and go back to pregnancy. When she greeted us late at night, quite unusually, we wondered what happened. She was thin and bedraggled and dirty and sickly. I opened my jacket and wrapped her. We told her we will see doctors and experts to help her at the change of the week, but at the end we took her against her will.
We thought she will understand, somehow. We’ve known each other for quite a while, but that Sunday when I went to work she somehow broke through her crate and run away.
We saw her the next few days by the same window of that tiny bridal boutique. Still dirty and bedraggled and skinny and sickly. She still welcomed us like an old friend, whenever we dropped by, but she made it clear she won’t come with us, even just for a while.
We no longer see the mistress of the house, sitting beside her with treats and food. Nor do we see the master of the house talking to her when he cleans his veranda. It’s always just her, and her alone. Alone through the day, alone at night. Under the heat of the sun, no warmth from the moon.
We saw her struggle to run, we saw her struggle to trot. We saw her scavenge for scraps and garbage, we saw her drink from the sewer. We saw her few last babies, who are still gone as soon as they can walk and and weaned.
We took her one more time, and she will ran back home, a few miles down the hill.
We saw her struggle to stand, eventually. We saw her struggle just to come to us, for what might be the only food she will have those days, then.
We did it three times, we knew she always went back. We knew she called that place home.
Even though that place no longer calls her home.
But we did it the fourth time; and the fourth time we made sure she would never come back. We locked her up and put her away in the quietest place in our forever lively home. We put up with her anger and complaints. We kept giving her food, we waited patiently. We will give her all our lives if all our lives is as long as it takes for her to understand we mean no harm and that we only try to help.
She has no teeth. Her white fur turn grey from all the bug dirt and she is white as a ghost lacking blood. She has mastitis on all her breasts, because of that her whole torso was swollen, red, and raw. It was painful when she sat, it was painful when she lay on her side, it was painful even when she walks.
Every morning I carry her to the side and give her steamed tuna, blendered into soft mousse. Every evening Sheilla hold her to one corner and gave her steamed chicken breast, pulverized into a congee. It made her mad when we tried to put a warm compress on her swollen chest; it made her upset when we gave her medicine.
We have to sneak in and out of our own house to prevent her from running away, we have to fight our way to get her to the vet; it was three full week in the ‘game of thrones’ until she finally understands we mean no harm.
So she takes our food a little bit more willingly. She endures treatment and medicine for her mastitis a little bit more calmly. She eats whatever we give her. She lets us brush her hair every day. She puts up with baths and hair dryers, she learns that whatever we do, we do it for her.
She learns that bitter medicines is not always evil.
She learns that injections is not always mean.
She learns that sometimes, home is not where her heart is. Home is where love is.
Help me keep the shelter open, so Michelle and other cats like her have a place to call home. We need USD 600 every week to feed everyone and give them necessary care, and we raised no more than USD 298 to date.