Sarel needed to go to the vet yesterday, for his annual check up and vaccinations.* The day did not begin well, with heavy grey rain clouds threatening from the early morning; I could only imagine myself walking through the streets of Jerusalem with a cat cage and a six and a half kilo cat, both of us soaking wet. I was also nervous because they had recently built a new road near the veterinary office, and I was unsure if there would be parking or direct access.
I had left the carrying-cage out in the salon for an entire day, so it would sit in the house and he could explore it, and ultimately find its presence non-threatening. My plan only partially worked, a five minute battle ensued to get Sarel into the cage when the time came to leave the house. On the way to the doctor's visit, he complained loudly, but in a pacifist Gandhi-like manner.
When we arrived, the vet and his assistants gave me a wary smile. Turns out they had thought that Harry (Sarel's extremely difficult and scary older brother) was meant to have his appointment today, and according to Dr. Tzvi, they spent several hours preparing themselves for the trauma. When I heard this confession, I could only laugh, and then tried to defend Harry, saying that at home he is gentle and affectionate; he has been brought up with love since he was a kitten, and has never lived on the street. Apparently some cats are "quite simply, little bastards." (Dr. Tzvi's words, not mine.)
Sarel sat quietly cowering and in contrast to his brother, allowed the vet to perform all the tests, including picking him up high in the air, checking his rather large vampire teeth, and giving him the vaccine. You could feel the tension easing all over the office, there would be no antiseptic or stitches for humans today.
I told Dr. Tzvi and his assistant an amazing story that attests to the kindness of heart of Sarel, and in my opinion, the ability of all creatures to overcome their basic programming. I explained that Sarel himself had been a rescue cat, and had lived on the street for close to a year before I found him (run over by a car) and adopted him. In the last year, Sarel adopted a beautiful cream colored kitten, Gingi, who is now a fully grown, healthy street cat, part of our extended family. Gingi allows me to pet him, and likes to spend some quality time with me before he eats the food I have brought him.
Sarel (male cat, neutered) adopted Gingi (male cat, large assets). Gingi has recently adopted a long hair gray and white kitten whom I have called Rocky, because his/her nose looks like it was in one too many brawls. Gingi has given Rocky a home with him, and every morning makes sure that everyone is fed together. The obvious nurturing comes from an unknown place in the male feline psyche, I cannot imagine a territorial animal who thrives on survival instincts displaying this kind of generosity, and yet, it happens every day before my eyes.
My theory supposes that character traits can be learned, and that a cycle of giving and generosity will be passed on through the next generations of street cats in my area. Their behaviour is an inspiration to me, it means that humans can undo negative patterns and learn new tricks. The assistant exclaimed, "Wow, a phenomenon of gay cats!" (Idiot!) Dr. Tzvi appreciated the uniqueness of the situation, and suggested that I had taught them the act of charity.
As a bonus, Sarel got a new bright red collar, he will be the envy on all his friends.
In the drive home, my back hurting from carrying a cat and his cage up the hills of Jerusalem to my parking space, I tried to console Sarel, who was still shaking with fear. I sang to him, I recited the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, most of which I know by heart: " O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy." In fact I noticed that Sarel was not chorteling, but rather whimpering and retreating.
No one likes going to the doctor. So I gave him a large tablespoon of tuna when we got home. And I took a nice shot of single malt whiskey.
*Note: While I object to many of the vaccines and shots given to humans, my stand changes vis a vis felines. They play outside in Lord knows what, they get into fights over territory, and in that case, better safe than sorry.