A Cat Story
Let me start this saga by saying I am not a cat person. Oh, we had cats when we were growing up. But those are sad stories, like most cat stories. The first cat we had, Claudia, ran away when we left for a camping trip for a weekend and Grace Haymes threw out the mouse that my dad had stuffed after we caught it in a mousetrap. It was the cat’s favorite toy and we all surmised that the cat left when it couldn’t find it anymore. Then there was Claud and Gauntelet who we found in the Poconos. We were at this house, the Adcock House, in the Poconos and my siblings and I, there were five of us at the time, went for a walk together and found a kitten. We thought if we just got the cat to follow us home, my parents would let us keep it. Let’s just say that though we never touched it, we worked really hard to make sure it followed us home, stopping when it ran off the road until it came back. When we finally got back my dad said we could keep it but we had to go get one of its siblings because it was better to have two kittens who could entertain each other than just one. So we went back to where we found the first kitten and found the rest of the litter and chose the gray one with four white paws. We named it Gauntelet (it was a girl) for gauntlet, because of its paws like gloves—my mom was reading us The Song of Roland at the time. When we got back to the house, the kitten fell down a well under the house. My dad spent the night trying to get it out but couldn’t. Finally, in the morning, he lowered my older, and I should say, fearless, sister into the well by her feet (she volunteered), and she grabbed the kitten out of the crevace on the side of the wall that it had found sanctuary in. Those two cats both had kittens right around the same time — in that same sister’s bed. My mom had had enough and made us get rid of them. But not before a rather tragic accident in which I opened the closet door over one of the kittens and broke its back and my dad had to put it out of its misery. I always felt responsible for subjecting him to that duty. I think another one of that litter was killed under my friend’s garage door. That same friend had a frozen cat in her freezer because a medical student friend of hers was coming to dissect it and died in a car accident on the way to her house so my friend felt like it was her last connection to the friend.
So that’s my cat history. This brings me to Greece. Well, a bunch of other things brought me to Greece. But here I am in Greece and cats are everywhere. Cats were everywhere in Athens, but in Nafplio their omnipresence feels more invasive. The first week we were here we heard murderous cat screams in the night and held each other in fear. Well, not really. Cats would run through the terrace, fighting or mating, we couldn’t tell. One night, we heard cat noises on our terrace and walked outside to look. Jeff shined the flashlight in the direction of the noises and we saw two cats ‘in the act’. They looked up at us, unconcerned, and moved three feet over and picked up again. A third cat sat watching several feet away.
Then one morning, we walked out in the morning and there was tiny little black kitten, we now call her Tiny Cat, TC for short, crying at us. She had lots of crust in her eyes and we couldn’t tell if she could see. We thought she might be blind — she’s got some serious eye infection and she is much smaller than her sisters. We fed her the coffee creamer we had, the only thing that we had that seemed edible for a kitten, but we were dubious about its nutritional value. We watched it with its siblings—the one who seemed to be the eldest would actually push it away as it tried to nurse. Her mama didn’t seem to care much for her. Actually, she didn’t seem to care much for mommying in general (I’m not trying to impose some kind of proper mommying conception on cats, but lemme just say, she did push the older cat — who, let’s be honest, may have deserved it, she’s a little beeyatch — under the outbuilding on the terrace. When the kitten tried to come out, the mama cat kept batting it back in). So we were really getting resigned to coming out one day and finding TC dead and this made us sad. And it made me think about how violent nature felt. Things seem to be going down a tragic road, so we left town. When we returned, the older kittens were on the terrace, but the little kitten was on the steps on the side of the place we are staying. It seemed laconic, as if it was just waiting to die.
Then, yesterday morning, I came outside and TC was on the terrace. This was the first I had seen her on the terrace in ten days or so, so that seemed like a good survival instinct. But her eyes still looked bad. And then, like an angel from cat heaven, a woman showed up at the gate asking if she could tend to the little kitten. She had antibiotics, eye drops and saline solution for washing the crud out of Tiny’s eyes. She spoke English to me and told me that she was a friend of the person who lives upstairs who is on vacation and she wanted to help the cat survive. So together–it took two of us–we cleaned her face, gave her the antibiotics, held her eyes open to drop drops in, and set her on her way, which is basically, the terrace. The woman even went home to make me Greek coffee which she brought back for me! Several hours later, she came back with sausages and water for the cats.
Yesterday evening, she came back with two friends, one of whom seemed to be a cat whisperer. They went through the whole process again, cleaning the kitten, giving it the medicine and eyedrops and leaving cat food.
On top of all this, Mama cat decided that she really wanted to be more involved in her cats lives. She let them nurse three times already today, and seriously, I’ve never seen her let them nurse before. Before she would actively push them off when they tried. Right now, as I write this, TC is curled up at Mama’s leg, taking a nap. There may be hope for this cat after all. The other two kittens are still a little aggressive to Tiny, but she has a renewed energy. One of the siblings slept with her arm around Tiny. That same one, though, swats Tiny away when she tries to eat its food (I have a brother who does this to his wife). The swatter is the middle kitten, I think, and I know, it’s hard to be a middle child.
We didn’t really want to have the cats on our terrace. Really, it was hard to watch when everything seemed to be going downhill. But having them ended up making us feel like a part of things. Last night, we ran into the woman who brought the antibiotics as we were finishing dinner. She and her boyfriend invited us over for drinks and conversation. We stayed there pretty late and had a delightful time. Tonight we are going to a concert on Palamidi Hill with them. Turns out, the cats have been good for us.