I was on my way out today when I saw Neko, one of my neighbourhood strays lying down under the void deck. Happy to see her, I went to greet and pet her as part of my daily routine. But something was wrong. She was bleeding.
Neko is one of the oldest community cats in my neighbourhood. I’ve seen her around since I was 16 (I am 25 now) so she is at least 9 years old. A grand ol’ dame for a stray! She used to be pretty fierce, only allowing me to pet her head and swatting my hand if I tried to touch her body, but she has mellowed in years and is really friendly now. She “talks” a lot to me whenever I greet her, circling me and rubbing up against my legs.
I have loved cats from a very young age. However, at that time, my mother wouldn’t hear of keeping cats in the house. As such, the community cats became my surrogate pets.
I am lucky to have a cat-friendly neighbourhood, with aunties and maids taking turns to feed the stray cats and clean up after them. The strays are all sterilized and generally get along well, with each one taking a certain territory of their own.
I remember primary school days when I’d stop by the void deck after school to “sayang” (pet) the community cats before I went home. If I saved enough from my pocket money, I would buy a can of cat food from the nearby 7-11 to feed them. Oh, what a treat that was for both them and me! Something about the sight of them gobbling down the food greedily really made me happy (probably the first sign of crazy cat lady in the making!)
When I was 12, I would go with my best friends Roslina and Eliza to the garbage disposal area opposite my school to play with the cats there. There was an auntie who always fed strays at the garbage disposal area, so the cats would usually hang around there and wait for her. I know, it sounds really gross, going to the garbage disposal area to play with stray cats. But honestly, that was one of the fondest memories I have of my childhood days.
Nowadays, I still make it a point to greet and pet any community cats I come across. Having grown up playing with them, they feel like family. Neko especially, as she has been around for so long. Some cats come and go, but she stayed on. And that was why my heart sank when I saw the blood.
Neko had a round open wound on her stomach and blood matted on her fur. She greeted me feebly and then got up to do her circling routine, albeit much more weakly than usual. My heart went out to her seeing her in that state and I was determined to take her to a vet.
I went home to get my cat carrier.
Then came the tricky part of catching Neko. She would NOT get into the cage! I tried pushing her gently in a couple of times but she growled, head-butted my arm out of the way and ran back to hiding under the hood of the car.
Finally, I managed to get hold of her and this time firmly shoved her into the cage. It’s for your own good, Neko! I had one wailing cat in the cab all the way to the vet.
Luckily, the vet said that it was only a superficial wound. However, as Neko is a stray and getting old, the vet said that she was very susceptible to the wound festering and having maggots. Thus, it was essential that I make sure to clean her wound daily and feed her the oral antibiotics prescribed.
I brought Neko back home to the void deck. Once I opened the carrier door, she ran out back to her hiding place under the car. My further attempts to call and talk to her were ignored and she just lay there serenely, safe in her hiding spot. Obviously, she had enough of me for the day.
Even though the vet bill was hefty, I knew I did the right thing, taking Neko to the vet. I couldn’t live with my conscience if I had just left her alone when I knew she was injured. So while my pocket is lighter, I can sleep with a clear conscience knowing I helped a friend in need today.
I will be taking care of Neko’s wound for the next couple of weeks. Will update again soon!