Monday, May 18, 2015

Gwai the Strange and Spooky Kitten (Updated)

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on July 22, 2014, and updated.)

Last spring, when this story was current, I posted a picture of the kitten Gwai. Bubblews lost it, but I've managed to find it:


Anyway, Gwai has an odd, pale face with dark patches along her jawline and around her big amber eyes. Some people would call it an ugly face, but she reminds me of her great-grand-aunt Mogwai, whom I loved. I searched for Asian names for these half-Siamese kittens and found "gwai" as a Chinese word for "weird," in the sense of strange and interesting, or sinister, or spooky...I'm finding the kitten Gwai strange and interesting.

By "strange and interesting" I mean that, although she spent the first two months of her life indoors, she's no more of a cuddly pet than her great-great-grand-uncle Mackerel was when he was found in a city alley.

Some people think she's spooky, or kooky, or just plain unfriendly. Well...she's not at a very cuddly age. I read Gwai's un-cuddly behavior as an invitation to play rather than cuddle. By backing into a corner and peering out at people she's repeating behavior that has, in the past, prompted me to trail hedge clippings through the grass for her to chase. And although she has been known to run away when I say her name in a normal tone, she will also come to me if I say it in a plaintive abused-kitten tone, and act sympathetic. She is genuinely shy with strangers. Most kittens are.

But an early kittenhood trauma could be involved. For the first ten days of their lives, before their eyes opened, Gwai spent a lot of time snuggled up beside the other unmistakably female kitten in the combined litter. That was the classic calico kitten who resembled her aunt Iris, and whose name was going to be Siri. Then one day I came in and found the kittens' nest disturbed and Siri vanished without a trace. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to the house snake, who normally eats mice, and just might have eaten a mouse-sized kitten whose mothers were keeping the house free of mice. It's possible that Gwai's eyes were open enough for her to see Siri disappear. It's certain that Gwai has put a lot of her energy into learning to dodge, hide, and run away, more than learning to chase things; and she does seem to run away reflexively from anything that might resemble a snake, such as a stretched-out arm.



Anyway, at this stage in life Gwai does seem to be the most timid kitten I've ever seen, but she's not feral or really "unfriendly." I find her lovable. If other people want to find her at all, they just need to find something she can stalk through the yard and play with her. Gwai still has a very devoted mother and aunt, who have reared her so impartially that I don't know whether she knows which one is which, and has no *need* to cuddle up with humans. But she can always use somebody who can think of things to do with strings or weeds.

...Now the update. I wanted to keep Gwai as a resident cat at the Cat Sanctuary. She didn't want that; for whatever reason, although her siblings were brought up as pets and Gwai was a bit of a favorite, she truly disliked humans. Well, she disliked and defied me. She was adopted. She didn't want to be adopted, either. She went feral. I don't know whether she's still alive.

I didn't plan to keep Gwai's sister, Sisawat, who had classic blue-point Siamese markings as a young kitten, but then lost them and grew up to be a rather ordinary-looking "blue" gray cat...with a white bib, the nose paler gray than the rest of her, and a classic Siamese face, voice, and temper. Who wants a cat that acts like a purebred Siamese and doesn't even look like one? Well...Heather, Ivy, and especially Irene do. 

Here's a recent (5/17/15) photo of Sisawat...


As shown, she's seldom far from Irene's side. They're very close...such that, perhaps for birth control purposes, Sisawat is currently trying to induce lactation to help Heather and Irene rear the kittens they are, once again, bringing up as a single litter. Yes, that's the sort of thing social cats do, and why these cats are special and interesting enough that I'm not trying to interfere with their having kittens.