Is this how parents all over the world feel?
Do they often feel angry at their children but at the same time feel like laughing hysterically for the naughty things that their children do?
Do they worry about their children all the time but at the same time want their children to experience moments of freedom as much as possible?
Do they often feel embarrassed when their children cause a lot of trouble to someone else, then feel guilty about having to punish their children for it?
I really don’t envy the work that is required to be a good parent. I couldn’t even handle it with my own cats!
I was worried sick when I lost one of my cats (I have three) named Ku-Shan, since Friday last week. Ku-Shan is the active, naughty, beautiful daughter of Ku-Ja (a Persian orange she-cat) and Putih (a mixed Siamese-Persian tom cat). I went frantic searching for Ku-Shan all over the place since she went missing on Friday. Before this, she always returned home just in time for her meals. She loved wandering all over the neighbourhood but she never went missing for more than 24 hours. Together with her parents, she would wait for me to come home every day to prepare her meals (a mixture of Fancy Feast wet food and Whiskas kibbles).
But on Saturday, more than 24 hours later from the time that she went missing, she still had not returned. I was oncall and there was nothing much I could do about it. I was worried about her at the back of my mind but I had to focus on my oncall anyway. That suppressed my worry a bit. I had a busy oncall, anyway, and I told myself that Ku-Shan would return soon. But, when I had some spare time in between my casualty cases, I looked for her again in the afternoon but to my grave disappointment, she was nowhere to be found.
On Sunday, she still had not returned. I was post-call, with bad sore throat that felt like it was on fire and a hoarseness of voice that made me sound like a transvestite deprived of his oestrogen… but I STILL sought for her around the house, calling out her name multiple times with my terrible voice. She was not around. (So this is how it feels when your heart is broken, now I know)
In my mind, I just KNEW that someone must have taken my beautiful Ku-shan for him/herself. My Ku-Shan is a beautiful cat of mixed breeding (3/4 Persian and 1/4 Siamese) with glorious, sexy big fluffy tail and healthy shiny grey coat that has brown highlights in strategic places.
And she has such a great personality (I am biased, I know. But she is not a passive, placid, lazy Persian like her chubby mom… because she has that cheeky Siamese gene in her. See? She inherits beauty from her mother, but personality from her father. I love that cat!) Anyone would want her and I have always been quite paranoid about people stealing her from me! I used to keep all my cats caged and only let them out occasionally. I was afraid that they would be stolen. But I knew it is not natural for cats to lead that kind of passive life.
When my mother had to do her cataract operation and I went to stay at my parents’s house to help with her recovery, I had no choice but to give my cats some freedom to roam freely in the neighbourhood. I stayed at my parents’ for 3 months (one and a half month of recovery period for each eye… thus, 3 months altogether) and I could not possibly justify leaving them in their cages for the whole of that three months. That would be the animal equivalent of emotional abuse, right?
For the whole of that three months, I only went to my own house once a day to give my cats their wet food. I also left 2 bowls full of kibbles to tide them over until I could come again the next day to feed them. And each day, they never failed to wait upon me at my porch even though I didn’t cage them and allow them their complete freedom for that three months.
But that Friday… only Ku-Ja and Putih waited for me…but no Ku-Shan! It was so ironic because that Friday I was coming back to stay at my own house after 3 months of staying at my parents’ house! And I was looking forward to greet all three of my cats to tell them that I would finally be around now. Instead, I was greeted by a wave of worries that my Ku-Shan was missing and was probably lost to me forever and ever.
I prepared myself mentally to accept that I may never get her back. Friday, Saturday, Sunday…. no sign of her. I mean, I am a pretty optimistic person, but even I knew when to lose hope. I just hoped that she might be stolen into a better household than mine, with a good owner that would love her.
Then…I woke up on Monday… checking my phone as usual, and I was rendered shock by what I saw on my Whatsapp.
I was stunned. I couldn’t decide whether to feel relieved that my Ku-Shan has been stuck inside of my neighbour’s house all these while… or horrified for the damage she had done to my neighbour’s house. I ended up falling back into bed and rolled myself all over my bed in mortified agony, trying to contain the embarrassment I felt towards my neighbour for the sort of trouble Ku-Shan had caused. We are talking THREE freaking whole days of Ku-Shan being stuck inside the house… who knows what sort of crazy shit (literally!) she has done to the house.
I took a deep breath before I made myself reply to my neighbour’s message.
I called my parents to let them know what Ku-Shan has done. My mother called Kak Ain to apologize to her and to offer a cleaning service by our Indonesian domestic help. My father personally called Kak Ain’s husband who is a dato’ (Kak Ain is the second wife) to apologize to him as my father knew him personally.
Dato and Kak Ain were very nice about it. They declined the offer for a cleaning service and said that they have cleaned the house last night (when I was deep in sleep while post-call and having a fever).
But wait! Later, I found out more about what Ku-Shan had done and it was even worse than what I could have ever imagined!
When I read that part of the whatsapp message, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I ended up doing neither. Instead I sat down on my bed, thinking about the amount of money I have in my bank account! How the heck am I supposed to pay for the handbag and the backpack?
Oh God! Ku-Shan…. why do you have to pee on a handbag of the daughter of the house? Okay, I know it is not reasonable to expect Kushan not to pee or excrete her waste for three days… I mean, we cannot expect any animal to defeat their biological urges. But why couldn’t she just pee on the floor? Why did she have to purposefully do the worst thing that ever could be done on an expensive handbag? Typical women are crazy about their handbags! (unlike me, I spend my money on experiences, travel and books. But most women I know spend really good money on handbags and shoes. An anak dato’s handbag may cost me my whole monthly salary or even more!)
Of course, I offered to pay! But mentally, I was calculating how much money I have put aside for my exam and how much I can spare to pay for the damage done by my satanic cat! Ugh!
In my head, I dreaded having to borrow my parents’ money for this! I have NEVER asked my parents for money ever since I went to Australia for my medical studies. I always told my younger sisters about how Kak Long and myself are the most independent among us siblings. (I was afraid my younger sisters would make fun of me about this for the rest of my life, as a payback for always lecturing them in the past. Hahha. I will never again be holier-than-thou when I talk to my siblings about money management next time) All these while, whatever my parents gave me, was freely offered. It’s been more than a decade since I needed their money for anything. (Like when they offered to pay for my exam but I said no. They then insisted to pay for my flight ticket and my hotel in Singapore, so I accepted their offer. But I could have paid for those things myself.) The bottom line is, I have been surviving on my own money ever since I was 20 years old. And now, because of what Ku-Shan did, I will have to break my clean track record and my principle on this!
Breaking my principle would be so painful! It would be like tearing my heart apart! (Yeah, I can be melodramatic when I am in the mood. Hahah)
Kak Ain, being so nice and neighbourly, of course had said that there was no need for me to pay for the handbag and the backpack. I admit, I was relieved when she said that. But I felt so terribly guilty. I went to work on Monday with a terrible sore throat, a hoarseness of my voice and a heaviness in my chest. That heaviness is, of course, the weight of my guilt.
I decided to punish all my cats! All of them are grounded! I am going to put them in their respective cage for one week! Maybe more!
But when I heard them meowing non-stop, wanting to be let out of the cage and taste again the freedom they have been used to for the past 3 months, my heart softened a little.
But still…. I don’t know how to strike a balance between giving them their freedom to roam freely but at the same time making sure things like this won’t happen again.
I am the sort of person who is once bitten, a thousand times shy. I learned so well from mistakes so that I would never feel the same pain again. That is just the sort of person I am. What had happened is horrifying and I was only lucky that my neighbour was so nice about it. The next neighbour may not be as patient! So, I MUST not take any chances. The next time I let them out of the cage, it would only be inside my own own house!
But how about their freedom? Is it fair to them? Is it morally required for us to think about what animals might feel? Are animals entitled to their freedom? I really don’t know. I can’t decide.
This is not totally Ku-Shan’s fault. Even as I was telling Kak Ain ” Sorry sangat. Ku Shan ni jahat sungguh. Nanti saya kurung dia!”… in my heart, I knew she is not a bad cat! I only said that to Kak Ain to convey my remorse and my regret on Ku-Shan’s behalf.
In actuality, Ku-Shan is very disciplined, but also an active and curious cat who likes to run around and unfortunately, her curiosity often gets her in trouble. She is fully toilet-trained! She pees and excretes her poo only in a proper litter box. I don’t use regular sands for her litter, instead I bought the premium crystal litter for all of my cats. None of them would pee or excrete their poo anywhere in the neighbourhood even when they were allowed to roam freely in the past 3 months. They don’t just pee/excrete in any sands or any grounds. They are used to the crystal litter that I’ve trained them with. Below are the pictures of the usual brand of crystal litter that I usually used for my cats. The texture of this litter is very unique and my cats were specifically trained to do their business only in this sort of litter… so that they won’t dirty my neighbours’ house and grounds when I set them free. My cats are very disciplined!
What was Ku-Shan supposed to do when she was stuck and unable to get out? I mean, she must be suffering in the three days when she had nothing to eat and drink! She must be feeling really scared too for that three days! Poor Ku-Shan. But at the same time, poor Kak Ain and her family! When Ku-Shan finally returned home, after hugging her to my chest, and feeding her an enormous amount of food, I straightaway caged her and not pay any attention to her howling and meowing of wanting to be let out of the cage. But deep inside, I felt so terrible about it.
I felt like a mother who wanted to scold their kids for bad things that have happened but at the same time didn’t know how the kids could have done any better in that situation!
I really don’t know what to do. Can I afford to let them out again? My instinct said I can. But my fear of things going awry makes me hesitate.
I leave you, my dear readers, with my facebook status regarding what had happened. A lot of my friends and even my own mother (Yes, my mother has a facebook account! haha) commented on my status. Their comments were so amusing! Apparently, many of them have had experiences of their cats being naughty towards their neighbours. Some of them even said that their cats have ‘menjatuhkan maruah keluarga’ hahah (probably by impregnating other female cats in the neighbourhood). At least, I was smiling while reading their comments, even though my heart was in agony for leaving my cats caged. *sigh*