Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twenty-One and Counting (Little King Cole and the Chinatown Children)

Over the course of a few nights last August, our friend Maria went hunting for kittens in the Downtown Eastside. She'd been watching this particular litter for sometime. There were three kittens around four months old in the family, and they lived behind a store in an alley near Keefer Street. Because the owner of the store had put up a chain-link fence, the kittens had no choice about their place of residence.

Their mother had been gone for quite awhile then, and as far as we know, the kittens were surviving on what they could catch for themselves. Rodents are abundant anywhere that people live, and East Vancouver is no exception to that rule. While they were probably good little hunters, they would always have been hungry. Some of the rats that they caught were likely as big as they were, and the hazards to their health and safety were horrendous.

I'm pretty sure that the storekeeper wasn't just some heartless villain who didn't have any regard for small, vulnerable things. He probably thought that these wild, homeless little cats enjoyed living rough and eating what they could forage or kill. He might even have convinced himself that his fence gave them a degree of protection.

Whatever the case, when Maria approached him about surrendering the kittens, he gave her a very definite NO.

I suspect that their rescue involved a pair of pretty good wire cutters and a black balaclava, and I'd like to believe that Monty Norman's James Bond Theme was playing in the background. In any case, when Maria left Chinatown on August 5th, her extended family had been further extended by two boys and a little girl, all of whom Maria declared to be semi-tame. They still are.

When they came to live with the Tall Lady and me around the second week in September, they still had no names, so we got to choose some for them.

Naming the guy with the white mark on his nose was easy - we called him Blaze. His brother, a big, handsome smylodon of a kitten, was named Wee Geordie, after an old Bill Travers movie that I've always liked. We played it safe with the smallest kitten, whom we called Sidney, because it was a nice androgynous name, and she wasn't about to let us check her credentials.

When they arrived, they came with a timorous little black kitten, about a month younger than they were, who had been abandoned at the SPCA. He had been scared and lonely, and Maria thought that he needed a family. She is a pretty good matchmaker. All three of the Chinatown Children love him, and he is Geordie's very best buddy. We call him Cole.

They were still wild and frightened for the first while that we had them. Sid curled into a small quivering ball whenever she was cornered, and she was as hard and as cold as stone when she was touched. She and Cole are our lapcats now.  

Geordie fell from our balcony on Hallowe'en and shattered his right femur. Two days later, his leg was amputated. Two weeks after that, he was climbing to the top of our big cat tree, running wild in the hallway, leaping over small buildings and wrestling with his brothers and Sidney. I suspect that he's feeling better.

Blaze is a scoundrel and a bully some of the time. The only living thing that he fears in the apartment is Xena, who will knock him on his skinny little cat butt if he annoys her. But, when he chooses to be good (and it's not often), Blaze is very good.

They were put on the VOKRA adoption page a couple of weeks ago, and Geordie had his first suitors on Sunday morning. He gave them his best sales pitch. He was friendly, he was polite, he was good-natured and attentive. Now that I think of it, the whole family was. Even the Tall Lady and I were on our best behavior.

On Monday morning, our visitors adopted a cute little kitten with four legs. I guess there's just no accounting for taste.

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