We have a cat... Hmm... that doesn't sound quite true. It would be better to say the cat has us???
Anyway, this particular cat was left with us by the same mother cat who starred in this episode of the blog. She was a very prolific mother and we discovered that she was behaving exactly like a Malayali mother - in that she was shipping off her kittens to distant places by putting them on the engine floor of our car and have them hop off wherever DH parked. We were alerted to this trend by a few kittens who were not ready to leave hold of the apron-strings as yet and came back from his office with him and mewed to us plaintively from under the hood!!!
So, back to the story of Akrami - the goon - as we call him. He came by this name because one of the first things he did after he got here was to scratch DH when he tried to get hold of the kitten. The doctor recommended a series of anti-rabies injection for the same. He is not a pet cat. He is to all intents and purposes a feral cat who occasionally visits us for food and shelter.
I would like to say that Akrami the kitten grew up to his name, and has become a magnificent tom cat who is the king of the neighborhood and so on. But it wouldn't be true. In fact, he is scrawny compared to some other tom cats in the neighborhood and very often we hear a screech and see him streaking away followed by bigger cats into the next panchayath. A couple of days later, he will appear with a swollen eye or scratched up visage and coolly ask us for food. His favorite hideout is our garage and an advantage of his scrawny stature is that he can crawl under the gate while his adversaries cannot.
Akrami has his preferences. He despises rice or milk. His favorite dish is dried anchovies followed very closely by chicken. He clearly shows his preference by actually going "Nomm, nomm" when he eats his favorite dishes. We give him food just to hear him eat with this audible sign of enjoyment. If we mix a bit of rice with his fish, he will dig out only the fish from the rice with all the delicate maneuvering of an archaeologist. My DH who felt the fury of the little firebrand kitten is his biggest fan. DH who is a vegetarian and barely tolerates the aroma of frying fish and never touches non-vegetarian food will happily go to the local market, haggle with the dried-fish seller to buy dried anchovies and personally feed them to the cat. Akrami occasionally contributes to the family food kitty by leaving gifts of dead mice on our porch on some mornings. We accept them graciously and then bury them in the yard once he is gone.
This is how we usually find him in the mornings, right in front of our front door:
That is how he likes to sleep to the envy of the household that is rushing about here and there to leave in time for work. The front paw is there to stop any little ray of light that is intent on disturbing him.
For all his scaredy-catness, he is pretty independent too. Last year, we saw him nursing a swollen foot which looked in bad shape, but he would not let us get close to him to get him medical help. We decided that we should get him inoculated against rabies and this year, we managed to catch him in a thick jute sack and pacified him with anchovies till we took him to the vet and back. To his credit, he never treated us as enemies afterwards.
So we were astonished when Akrami hobbled up to us last week, with two swollen front legs, and a scratched up cheek and ear with pus oozing out of lesions on his legs. He wouldn't eat or drink, but sat on our front mat, crying pitifully. DH, who was down with a cold couldn't bear to see him in that shape. We bundled him up and took him to the district veterinary hospital. The prognosis was very bad - they x-rayed him to find no broken bones, but his liver and kidney were enlarged with infection and he had a very high fever. The doctor said that it looked like he had been bitten by a dog. We thanked God at that moment for giving us the forethought to have him inoculated.
But how to take care of a feral cat who is only half-domesticated? We put him in an unused room on the upper floor, washed his wounds everyday with saline solution and put antibacterial ointment on it, wearing gloves all the time. It hurt him, but he was too weak to protest. But he did take off the Elizabethan collar the first time we put it on him to prevent him from licking off all the ointment. But after that, he tolerated even that because he had used up all his energy jumping up and down to take off the collar. The true proof of his weakness came when we saw him drinking up hitherto despised milk!
Altogether we took him three times to the hospital where he was given injections and intravenous fluids. At home we cleaned the wounds and fed him. But when we checked on him this Wednesday to take him to another vet appointment, we found that he had escaped from the upper floor room through the window!!! For two whole days we wondered if we would ever see our Akrami again.
Yesterday, he did appear, minus the Elizabethan collar. His wounds are still raw, but not suppurating any more. He is keeping himself very clean. He ate his fill of anchovies and a piece of boiled chicken and loudly clamored for more. It is clear that he is back in independent mode. Because he refuses to come in the house or be mollycoddled.
Today morning, Akrami looked disdainfully at the milk DH left for him, but cleaned up the bowl after he had left for work. Here is a picture of him taken today morning:
The wounds are still very gruesome, which is why I haven't taken a picture in better light. But I think it will be enough to trust Mother Nature from now on to heal him.
Oh, what is that I hear? A very energetic mewing ... Akrami is here and he is hungry!!! Let me get him some food!!!