Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mother Knows Best

When I first mentioned Mi on this blog, she was known to my family as "Urusai Neko" ("the annoying cat"), and she definitely was. She was one of three abandoned cats that suddenly appeared and made themselves at home on our property during the summer of 2009 when we were trying to observe the first anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. As for the other two, Hana quickly became an established member of our household, and Kushi (formerly known as "Shiro-Kuro") still wanders by at feeding time. As for Urusai Neko, she continued to be annoying.

Urusai Neko 1
("Urusai Neko" in 2009)

It wasn't just that she was so damned stubborn and persistent. It wasn't just that she had an aggressive personality and was good at rapid ambush attacks. It wasn't just that she made life for our other cats miserable. It wasn't just that she was too smart to be fooled easily. It wasn't just that she was affectionate to the point of being obnoxious. It wasn't just her occasional habit of giving love bites that drew blood. And it wasn't just that GODAWFUL, NASALLY YOWL of hers and the demonic grimace she made every time she uttered it. It was all that and more.

And yet we couldn't deny some things. For one thing, she was beautiful. She was definitely a people cat and hated to be alone. A lot of her pestiferousness could be offset by just pausing and giving her a scratch on the back (which would send her into total ecstasy). Once, when I thwarted her attempt to raid some garbage, she sat down, straightened herself, curled her tail around her body with a dignified air, gazed off into the distance with a resigned look, and sighed. I suddenly felt so sorry for her, that I went and got her some food. It wasn't long before my FIL succumbed to her flawed charms, too. He started calling her "Mi" (which is what he calls ALL female cats out of habit...or sheer mental laziness) and treated her as a bona fide pet. She wasn't allowed into the house (as if that stopped her, smart as she was), so she mainly lived out in the greenhouse, but she still became more or less a member of the household. And unfortunately, since FIL refused to have her spayed (just like he refused to have Kushi neutered), we figured it was only a matter of time before she gave us an unwanted present...or several.

Her first litter was three babies, which she placed inside an old school desk in the greenhouse. That may have been a fatal error; all three of her young soon disappeared without a trace, and she didn't seem concerned. It was really hot that year, and the greenhouse was like an oven inside even with the vents open. We figured the three babies probably died of dehydration and were disposed of somewhere by the mother.

She had better luck with her second litter, which consisted of four. She kept them in her own bed near the greenhouse door. They had actually grown up to the point that their eyes were fully open and they were starting to explore their nearby surroundings when FIL decided to keep one and cull the rest. He chose the friendliest of the lot, but while he was busily catching the skittish remainder and disposing of them (I won't elaborate), Mi apparently figured out what was going on. She quickly grabbed her remaining baby and vanished. We searched all over and finally found that she'd placed her now-solitary offspring inside the living room of FIL's house! It was then that FIL decided to let Mi be a housecat, and she has remained so ever since.

As for the baby, he was named Koko, and he gradually overcame his trauma and skittishness to become quite a friendly and easy-going youngster...till he wound up losing an argument with a motor vehicle out on the road. FIL was devastated, but we figured he'd get a replacement soon enough.

Earlier this year, Mi was obviously pregnant, and then she'd obviously given birth, but we had no idea where the litter was. After a while, FIL found it buried in the depths of his bedding closet. Mi eventually moved it out to her bed, where it was revealed she'd had five babies. Once again FIL decided to keep one and cull the rest, and when he did so, Mi quickly relocated her remaining baby not just once, but frequently. If anyone found it, let alone touched it, she'd immediately haul it off somewhere else. Finally she put it somewhere we weren't able to locate. About two weeks passed before FIL finally stumbled on it nestled in a pile of junk in his (mostly unused) study. He prepared a sort of bed there for mother and baby but reported to us that the youngster was not people-friendly; it had apparently grown up hidden from humans too long and had become wild. I went into the study to have a look, and sure enough, there was the little me the most evil-looking threat display I've ever seen on a little fuzzball.

"That's just great," I grumbled to my wife afterward. "We have a feral cat growing up in grandpa's house!"

But I'd underestimated Mi.

The very next day, to everyone's amazement, Mi actually came into the living room of my FIL's house, carrying her baby by the neck, while we were there. She then deposited the little fuzzball in the middle of the room as if to present it. It immediately scurried for cover under a table, but the proud mother then moved to the nearest human and asked to be petted. When the human obliged, Mi started calling to her baby, encouraging it to come closer. Then she moved to a different person and did the same. In this way, she seemed to be showing her baby that we weren't a threat. Slowly but surely, the baby gained the courage to come out, eventually even curling up to snooze right next to my knee.

Baby Coco II
(Who needs a hidey-hole, anyway?)

Now the little one (who my FIL named...wait for it...Koko II) is mostly used to humans. He's (she's? I don't know yet) still skittish, and you have to let him set the social pace, but he has already let me pet him without running away, and he likes to be able to play with a human. As for Mi, she has already trained her kid to use the litter box and has been encouraging him to eat solid food. She still seems more interested in being petted than caring for her baby, but she hasn't been negligent.

Mi the Proud Mum

Never underestimate a mom!


  • Side note...nice parquet floor.

    By Anonymous kehlwok, at 2:37 PM  

  • Cats have always been a mixed bag for me, too. I've been catless for almost three years now and I have to say I don't really miss them. I really don't miss the hair everywhere, the more than occasional messes, and the yowling (one of my most recent cats was very vocal). Good luck with your bunch!

    By Blogger Andy, at 11:13 PM  

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