Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Egyptian Cats...

It's flashback time. See, we had this other life. For 11 years, we lived abroad, in five different countries, mostly in the Middle East. We had a ton of fun, some scary times, and picked up a lot of souvenirs along the way. Some of our first souvenirs were Boot and Fergie, Egyptian street cats we couldn't resist adopting.

Who could resist these guys?

Fergie is the gray cat. She was the best cat ever, but unfortunately she passed away six years ago, in Saudi Arabia. She's buried under a palm tree with one of my husband's slippers. She loved his slippers....she loved everything about him. When she was upset, she'd go to his slipper, push her head in as far as it would go, and even put her paws around the front to pull her head in further...then just inhale his beloved scent. (I mean, I love him too, but I've got to tell you -- not THAT much. Really, trust me on this -- stay away from his shoes. I'm sorry to tell family secrets, but it runs in the family. We were traveling with his son one time, and we passed a small town on the highway. All the way through the town, I was moaning, "Who would want to live in this town? It stinks!" We finally realized that his son had taken off his shoes in the back seat.)

Boot, the black and white cat, was a 'pity' cat. For some reason, I decided I wanted a black-and-white long-haired kitten. You can see in the picture above that he only fulfills the black and white part of the requirement. Not long-haired, not a kitten. But after this very kind lady drove me an hour across Cairo, in rush-hour traffic, and the lady who was keeping him said he was going out in the street if I didn't take him...well, what was I supposed to do?

I took him to the vet on the way home, and he was so wild, the vet said he was feral and could never be tamed. For the first three days, my husband never saw him. He was living under our refrigerator. He would come out at night and rush around the house looking for exits. We'd wake up, and every picture would be askew, because he thought they were windows. We finally decided we were going to have to put him out in the street.

So I tried one last time. He was hiding behind the oven, which was open on the one side. I kneeled down and stretched my hand out to him with some food. He sniffed it and started to walk toward me. As I pulled my hand toward me, and he followed, he finally reached me. He looked up into my eyes, then climbed into my lap and started to rub all over me. He had been so terrified and was so relieved to find a friend. I started crying, and we've been buds ever since.

To this day, 17 years later, he runs from everyone but me and my husband. He's lived with us in six countries (Egypt twice and the United States twice), suffered through lots of international moves, and is still going strong.

The first time we took him back to the States, and winter came, poof! He became a long-haired cat. He's especially proud of that tail.

I won't show a more recent picture because he wouldn't like it. He's getting a little threadbare, but he's still my boy. He's so protective of me that if I'm around the goats, and he thinks they're getting too aggressive with me, he rushes at them. He's bitten our other cat when he thought he was hurting me. He has no claws, and he lost most of his teeth long ago, but he's not going to let anything happen to me.
Love you too, Boot.

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