My name is Katherine Hepburn, “Kitty” for short.
I was not born a sailor, but I guess I was born to be a sailor. My story is a mixture of ups and downs, as every story is. I was born in the small tropical island Langkawi, Malaysia into a rough and tumble neighborhood. To humans this place is a beautiful resort island to be vacationed on, but most born into my situation were to face the life described by Thomas Hobbes poem Leviathan as "nasty, brutish and short”. I guess I got lucky at first, I was found and adopted by a Malaysian family and moved into one of the nicest apartment complexes on the island. They fed me. While this does not seem like the largest of steps forward, I assure you, that many born in my neighborhood led short lives due to a lack of food. They even seemed to love me. They let me in the house, and I was trained for hygienic indoor living, I even know how to ask to be let out to do my business. I was not allowed on the furniture, my life wasn’t that easy, I came to like the hard tile floor and adopted the many positions of my species to look comfortable on these hard surfaces. I am still undecided whether this is a good or bad thing, but I grew a fondness for human contact. This quality is what got me in the predicament that I am in today.
I remember when I was very young, looking out the window at Bess. She is a bit older than I am and certainly more street smart, but she was never trained to live in a house. Her manners are atrocious at best! She had a Malaysian family that would feed her food scraps and the occasional fresh fish. She did well, actually, and had quite the belly on her despite being a more petite frame than I. I felt sorry for her. Her fur was rougher than mine, and she couldn’t keep it in quite the same level of cleanliness that I could because she had to live outdoors full time. Ironically, her bed was a disused human luxury car, and she would always brag that she got to sleep on a BMW while all I had was a Nissan that would occasionally have parts fall off of it if you looked at it wrong. But at least I didn’t have to sleep on it every night. Bess had access to food and therefore she had a territory, and territory comes with responsibility because someone else who doesn’t have a food supply will always want to get at yours. Even though Bess and I were friends she would growl at me when she got her fish from her family. I honestly wasn’t that interested in the fish, my family fed me these delicious pellets that smelled like the fish, but I didn’t have to worry about the mess that the scales and slime leave on one’s fur. Life was about as good as it gets as far as I could tell at the time.
It seems, my luck was not to remain consistent. My family started moving all their furniture around one day, one item after another going out the door. The whole place smelled of cleaning solution and emptiness. They heaped my food dish full of little pellets, moved it outside, then left. At one year old, I was left to fend for myself. At first, I thought it was just a vacation - they would be back in a couple days. Then, a weekend turned into a week and a week into a new month. No people, no petting, no refills to my food bowl that all too quickly had run dry. The first issue was territory, as I no longer had a house to go back into every night, I needed a place to stay. Bess said she rarely used the roof, she was a ground floor kind of girl, and that I could have it as mine if I can keep the grey fluffy cat away from the area. That sounded easy enough, but let me tell you, fighting a large male who grew up on the street while you had an empty belly is no easy task. I was fortunate, I had grown up with plenty of food and I was large compared to the street cats so I could hold my own. I became pretty vicious and Bess outsourced all the fighting to me in exchange for some geckos and mice she would kill even though her belly was full of fish.
I felt abandoned, love is a powerful drug and when it is taken away you become a hardened soul quickly. I didn’t use my charming personality or good manners to beg food from the humans in the area, I would just steal it in the night from the nice people who left some token food for all the neighborhood street cats to fight over. I even earned the nickname "Bandit" from some of the humans for the way I would sneak in, eat, and run if any of them tried to pet me.
Then one day, Andrew and Leslie moved into the ground floor apartment, the one that was once my home. Bess with her dopey need for love immediately sauntered up to Andrew and flopped over begging for a belly rub. If I could ‘face-palm’ I would. Bess was happy enough to take what love she could find from passing strangers, but I was done with humans. When Andrew tried to pet me on my windowsill, I hissed at him. But the days went by and Bess made those belly rubs look so pleasant, and this Andrew guy started leaving my favorite brand of crunchy food on the doorstep, so he couldn’t be all bad. My trouble had started. Occasional petting on the front doorstep, turned into me going indoor to my old home, turned into me spending the evening on one of their laps.
Then something changed, they started moving all their stuff out of the apartment, the reek of cleaning solution started to permeate everything. It was happening again; I opened my heart and it was happening again! I was mad, these teases, they lured me in with love and they are leaving again! Andrew picked me up, despite my protests, and walked me up to the upstairs apartment, took me in the door and sat me down on the couch next to him. All their stuff was up here now? What is going on? This apartment used to have a little boy child in it, and cute as he is, I much prefer my quiet time and be left alone, so I certainly had not spent any time here before. Strange, yes, but I guess this is something I can live with. The food bowl was now outside this apartment, everything just carried on. I became more attached and really started to love these people despite my best efforts. It wasn’t just the food, I would sleep all day next to Leslie. Sometimes I would wake up, wonder if they were still around, and give a little “meow.” Leslie would always pause and give me some petting.
More slowly and insidiously this time Andrew started packing things up and moving them out of the apartment. Bess didn’t even notice the changes, she would scarf down the food, get her belly rubbed and lay down to sleep. But I was smart and observant, I knew the signs. They were moving out, and this time I could tell that they meant to go farther away than just upstairs. I could tell they were sad, and that just made me madder. I had already gone through this mourning process. I was cured! I fully disliked humans. And now I was some lazy house cat again in just a few short months of meeting these clowns. They tried to put a leash on me, you can’t leash a lion, why were they trying this, they were leaving me and trying to torture me on their way out?
Cleaning solution finally permeated the air, and I knew the day was here. The food bowl was heaped full and placed outside, they would not let me in the apartment. Within a few hours, I saw the people with the little boy go into the apartment and noise, noise, noise!
I think a cat is the best description of a soul, it is soft and fuzzy and when it hits something hard it does not make the sound of shattering glass like you would imagine, it just makes a soft thud. My soul collapsed, I was back on the windowsill, fending off the grey fluffy cat and struggling to keep my soft white belly fur clean while I slept on the dirty outdoor ledges.
This is where the story goes straight into “Alice in Wonderland” level of strange.
One evening, Andrew showed up on the doorstep of the apartment with a cage. “Do you want to come with us or would you rather stay here?" He asked. I guess I chose the red pill. I walked into the cage and heard the door shut behind me. I regretted it immediately and started complaining loudly, but it was too late. Andrew wouldn't let me out.
A minute later we loaded into the car and drove away from what I had always known. At the end of what felt like an eternity (I do NOT like car rides), Andrew and Leslie get out of the car and carry me into a land of big white sticks and strange noises. Everything smells somewhat like that fresh fish Bess would smear all over the patio. The land beneath their feet wobbled and bucked, and this scared me. They look pretty unstable up on their hind legs like that, with their big floppy feet. I suffered it all complaining from my little cage. Then, we climbed inside a void I still do not know how to describe. It’s not a house. It’s not a car. But, it has a steering wheel and a couch. I think it might be floating in water. I closed my eyes and buried them in the corner of my cage; this was undoubtedly the end of me.
Then, familiar smells started coming to me thru the bars of my cage, the smell of the blanket Leslie let me sleep on, smells of Andrew and the dust he always trailed into the apartment. I decided if this were my end I should open my eyes and face it bravely.
The door to my cage had been opened and Andrew was calling me out. What is this madness? What rabbit hole had I fallen into were everything so strange could be so familiar and everything so familiar could be so strange?
Then I got the trick, they hadn’t moved away from me, they had moved to their home and now it is my home. I cannot describe the happiness. I don’t think cats can cry out of happiness, so I resorted to ‘meowing’ as much as I could, purring as loudly as I could, and kneading everything to show them that I loved my new home.