Since we don’t seem to follow the rules about how families are made we’ve gone ahead and adopted another family member. This one weighs only several ounces however, and cries more than any other baby we have had. He also has the most whiskers.
The troop of kittens was either abandoned by their mother or their mother’s owner onto the hospital compound. There were originally 3 of them, 2 brown and one black, and all probably around a week old. The black one disappeared after a few days, perhaps the victim of a dog or eagle. One of the brown ones decided to make it’s refuge in the maternity ward. Imagine holding your 1 hour old baby and having a mewing kitten climb into your lap! In America, maybe you’d be annoyed but some would think it was cute too. In Nepal, kittens are considered pests, and it is a bit of a national past time to see how far a kitten can be thrown.
Despite them not really being considered pets, we had been debated getting a cat since arriving in Tansen. Especially in monsoon season, there are lots of mice and rats, and where there are mice and rats, there are snakes, some of which are venomous. A cat around the house can keep appearances of all these to a minimum, but on the other hand we knew we would be here for only for 2+ years, and what would we do with the cat once we left?
This little kitty forced our hand. If someone didn’t take him in, he would die. We needed a cat. So we decided we would take him in and at least get him through kitten-hood. We brought him home in a box, and he cried the entire way. He also poo-ed all over. The trip home set the stage for the days to come, crying and lots of poo. To be fair, all the pooing wasn’t necessarily the cats fault. Not really sure what to feed a new-born kitten, we settled on buffalo milk and bread. A few days later when our internet came back on we were able to research and discovered is is exactly what not to feed a new-born kitten. Well in case you ever have a new-born kitten and a buffalo, let me warn you that buffalo milk does a number to a kittens bowels which equals non stop explosive diarrhea. On your floor. On your furniture. On your kitten. On your lap when you are trying to pet the kitten. We have eventually leveled out the kittens diet and his bowels.
After getting him home, the name was the next order of business. Growing up, my parents, staunch Republicans, decided that to balance the family out they would name all of our cats after Democrats. Teddy for Theodore Roosevelt. Mario for Mario Cuomo. Hillary for Hillary Clinton. Well, we decided that Communists were the real under-represented minority in our family and thought it would it funny to name our pets after infamous dictators. Our first cat, Fidel, currently lives with Hannah’s sister in Virginia. Sticking with our theme, this kitten made naming him easy. All you had to do was ask him his name and he told you. Mao.
Our little cat is slowly adapting to our family. We wash him daily to battle the fleas that he also came with. His tiny, velcro claws are constantly digging into your pant legs when you try to wash dishes. Our two year old thinks she is the mother of the cat, and loves to follow him around scolding “Mao, quiet! Mao, No!!” She follows this up by picking him up by the neck and carrying him around, a maneuver performed by most kitten’s parents.
We are anticipating that some day he will be a lean, mean, rat/bat/snake exterminator, but for now I guess having him around is just preparation for a new baby.