Arrivée d’un pitchoun

Posted in Cats, Journal at 21:23


Yes, that is a kitten in my living room. On days like today, all I can do is sit and wonder at life’s twists and turns.

Last week, the day I learned of Malo’s death, I came home to my empty apartment, and all I could think to do was care for something, anything alive. I went onto my patio to water the plants. To make a long story short, by chance, a kind neighbor across from and above me, who has a cat and a dog, asked about my cat. I replied that he had died that day. She gave her condolences and encouraged me to rest, saying she knew what it was like to lose a beloved pet.

This evening, as soon as I got home, she dropped by my apartment and asked if I would like a kitten! It turns out that a nurse friend of hers had found a kitten wandering about last week. After asking in several different buildings, at the neighborhood pet supply shop and two veterinarians, as well as putting the word out and waiting several days, the kitten’s owners didn’t turn up. The nurse had to go on vacation and so gave the little kitten to her friend, my neighbor, to see if she could find a new home for the little one. My neighbor first asked friends of hers, but none could take it in — and so she thought of me.

Although I’d wanted to wait, I have indeed been looking into getting another cat; I couldn’t refuse. Adoption through a refuge (animal rescue) is costly in France — you pay several hundred euros up front, to cover the kitten’s first vaccines and neutering. While it’s a great deal, it all has to be paid at once… something I simply can’t afford, whereas I can afford to pay the vaccines as they arise, as well as neutering. I had in mind to wait a few months and, in any case, see what came up. There is, unfortunately, no shortage of abandoned strays here, as witnessed by this little dear. The poor thing has had most of his whiskers chopped off, either by another cat or by whomever kept him before (not the nurse or my neighbor)… sigh.

It’s a long-haired girl boy!, and he’s one of the sweetest, most personable kittens I’ve ever met. Lively as all get out — he is a kitten after all! — and an absolute love. He’s sleeping on my lap as we speak, has covered me in kitty kisses, let me pet his tummy with luxurious delight, and won’t let me out of his sight.

I’m still at a loss for his name. I thought he was a “she” since my neighbor had said so, and had “her” name picked, but after checking… he’s most certainly a “he”!
Name update: He’s been christened Kanoko, a term from fabric dyeing, kanoko shibori. It’s a feminine name in Japanese, but I think it fits the fawn-colored kitty well!

And so I give you my new furry companion! “Pitchoun” is Provençal for “little one”, and is one of my favorite terms of endearment. People regularly call children pitchoun (masculine) and pitchoune (feminine) here. (And yes, little kitten and I will be visiting the veterinary as soon as I can take a day off, though he seems to be in very good health, confirmed by the nurse and my neighbor.) There are two more photos from today: one showing his coloring while he walked around, and one taken at his water bowl, also showing his pretty colors. I love his mix of stripes and spots.


Posted in Cats, Journal at 14:41

Malo, June 2007

Malo is very sorely missed. I keep thinking he’ll hop through the window he dashed out of — the only window with street access, in my bathroom, that didn’t close properly and that he’d surreptitiously learned how to paw open — and I’ll hear his paws tip-tapping towards me with his inquisitive “purr-meow?”. I keep thinking he’ll walk up behind me unheard, and hop onto my lap, knead my legs while I grimace and say “ow” until he’s content with the seating arrangement, then sprawl out with paws askew and head on a knee. Always facing towards the window.

I chose my new apartment in large part because it was so safe for Malo. The terrace is fully enclosed; I never thought he’d get out the high, narrow bathroom window. When I saw him do it the first time two weeks ago, I made a mental note to get wire fencing to cover it. I hadn’t yet found the right kind. And two weeks was long enough…

I don’t know where he died; it must have been far from my place. He hadn’t returned on Wednesday evening. I panicked, calmed myself by thinking he’d probably just gone on a walkabout and hadn’t found his way back yet, so went out and scoured as big a circumference as I could in two hours. I looked everywhere, even under cars, knowing I might not find him alive. But I didn’t see him anywhere, and he never came to my calls. I never heard his familiar meow.

I realized I hadn’t yet changed his ID tattoo registration address, so filled in the card and put it in the mailbox. That was how la fourrière, the pound, found me the next afternoon, yesterday. (The French postal service can be very fast.)

I’m very thankful they actually found his body, and that they took care of it. The man who phoned was wonderful; he actually started sobbing when I burst into tears. I’ll never forget how sincere his uncontrolled reply of “oh no don’t, it’s horrible” was after I asked if I could come see Malo’s body. I choked on an “oh…”. He heaved a huge sigh, sobbed and apologized again, but I thanked him for his honesty. Goodness knows he has a rough job. He said they would dispose of Malo’s body carefully, as they do all animals — it was good to hear all animals are treated with respect.

I miss my kitty. I wish he’d just held on another week; the time for me to find the right wire and put it up. I always knew I’d lose him someday — I’ve lost Pete, a black and white cocker spaniel who saved my life by leading me to safety when I wandered off and got lost in nearby forests at age two; Josh, a black cocker spaniel; Rosie, a dearly sweet, always-cheery Golden Retriever who would drag around a two-kilo block of wood, spurning all other toys except tennis balls, and head-butt me in the thigh affectionately; and Morris, an adopted orange tabby furball who learned how to meow my name and lived to the ripe old age of 21. I knew I would lose Malo, but I’d always hoped he would be safe at the end, in my arms, knowing he was loved. The hardest for me is thinking that he died alone, with no one to comfort him. (But I am so very glad that the pound was sensitive and caring. It helps.)

I’ve found this Pet Loss Support Page to be helpful (if anyone knows others, do please share).

Sweet dreams

Posted in Cats, Journal at 16:03

Sweet dreams

I guess it’s fitting that this be the last photo I took of Malo… I’m glad I wrote about him so recently. La fourrière just phoned to say that Malo had been hit and killed by a car. I won’t be seeing him again, since I wouldn’t be able to bear it (the man who phoned spontaneously blurted out “oh no don’t… it’s horrible” when I suggested it). Don’t know what else to say…

Sleeping Kitty

Posted in Cats, Journal at 14:29

Sleeping Kitty

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of chickpeas, stockfish and daube, a white kitten with an orange tabby tail was born. He was not born to a king and queen, just a mother abandoned when her pregnancy was discovered. He had no pedigree and was the smallest of his siblings; there were no fairies at his bedside, good or evil. On a sunny day in July a man came, along with a tall woman who had a funny accent and said she would adopt him. Two months later, they brought him to the Villa Frédéric, which was not a palace, but a real home. The tall woman gave the white kitten a name that was not magic, but had the power to make people smile when they heard it.

Le chat Malo grew up learning how to leap and dance and pounce, how to sleep on laps for hours on end, how to swat at dogs from behind a fence and at the mailwoman’s hat from atop a wall. Three Julys and an April later, the tall woman decided she had to live on her own. She wanted to stay in her home, but learned it had never been hers. She also wanted Malo to remain with her, but the lively kitty was given to someone else.

Le chat Malo was no longer allowed to dash and pounce, nor could he sleep on laps since his fur was undesirable. He became afraid of human arms and hands, learning to hide from them in fear.

But a flower-and-arabesque-covered home had found the tall woman, and the person with le chat Malo was exasperated with his fur. The white kitty with the orange tabby tail was returned, to the joy of the tall woman.

It took many careful months, but slowly le chat Malo relearned that he could trust loving hands and jump onto a welcoming lap. Eight Julys after the first, in their third new home, the tall woman hung a mosquito net. On seeing how happy her sleeping chat Malo looked beneath the sheer canopy, she took a photograph to immortalize the moment. Le ChatMalo au bazar dormant (bazar because it’s still a bit of a mess, and certainly not a bois, forest).


Posted in Cats, Gardening at 15:20

My cat is... weird

This is my cat. As you can see, he may pretend to be sweet and snuggly and sleepy and all that most of the time, but in reality, he’s a stealer of souls and strikes when you least expect it.

Today I had to phone about my refrigerator, which, bizarrely enough, decided it no longer wanted to keep things cold three days ago, the same day we had public transport strikes. Naturally, I first tried to explain to it that it’s not a tram, nor a bus, nor a train. Then after trying different thermostat settings to no success, and checking the back for damage (it has plenty of room on the sides, behind and above it), I gave in and called technical assistance today. One of the things they asked was the temperature inside my place. Keep in mind that in this part of the world, Celsius is used. I answered “75”, which is only 25 degrees from boiling water in centigrade. The technician went “QUOI ?!” (“WHAT?!”) Realizing my mistake, I laughed and said I was American, so had read the Fahrenheit side of my thermometer without thinking. In Celsius it was 24. The tech had a good laugh. Someone’s coming tomorrow; perhaps they can talk my refrigerator back into behaving.

Not so weird, but surprising to me, one of my four-leaf clover plants is now flowering.

Malo approves

Posted in Cats, Gardening, Journal at 21:55

Malo approves

EDF, the main French electricity supplier, finally hooked me up yesterday (Monday), meaning Malo and I fully moved in just then. All of my things had been moved two weeks earlier; luckily I’d kept essentials — and Malo — at my old place just in case any unforeseen problems arose. A simple yet big one did just that: I realized that I have a macerator on my toilet. Toilets hooked up to macerators do not work without electricity…! For the last three weeks I’ve been going back and forth between furniture and appliance deliveries, work, moving smaller things to and fro, watering plants at both places, and chasing after EDF trying to get the electricity turned on.

Helpful advice for anyone in France needing electricity: do not use EDF’s website. I got a grand total of one reply to my request to be hooked up, and then… nothing. I had to phone them twice to get it straightened out, because their “email service and telephone service are separate”. Meaning that a customer request via email, cannot be handled by telephone. Which makes no sense, but whatever. Just phone EDF, that way you’re sure to be hooked up. However, pay attention to the contract offered! Use their website to read up on the different offers before phoning so you know exactly what to ask for — and how to say “no, I do not want X and Y.” EDF are particular pains in the rear end when it comes to making perfectly innocent-sounding assumptions about the contract you want, never once asking you anything more than the power level you need.

A very positive note was the incredible rapidity of my internet provider (Free). They switched my line in four days! Of course, without electricity, I could’t use the modem… but on Monday it was among the very first things to be turned on. I still haven’t managed to reply to anyone’s email though!

As a result of my exhausting running around and juggling far too many things at once, I also haven’t taken very many photos yet. I’m taking a short vacation next week (to be spent chez moi), so more will come soon. In the meantime, in addition to monsieur le chat Malo perching contentedly on the bar:
o New refrigerator in its nook — omigod I am in love with my refrigerator. It’s quiet, bright, the perfect size, and I thank myself every time I open it for paying the extra for a fridge-on-top, freezer-on-bottom combination. I also love the layout of my kitchen: the refrigerator and bar shelves are right behind the stovetop, meaning everything is right within arm’s reach.
o Terrace / patio before replanting. My now-previous landlords said I could take the bougainvillea with me, which is great since it should be quite happy with room to climb. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw it and the other plants on the new patio — they filled my previous balcony, but look downright tiny at the new place!
o The terrace / patio after replanting shows the same: you can barely make out the bougainvillea in its new home.

When pulling out the old, dead trees to replant, I was surprised at how crumbly and healthy the earth felt. Then I came across an old friend I hadn’t seen in eleven years; one I saw all the time, often carousing about underground in groups, when gardening in Oregon. An earthworm! One of my new neighbors stared at me quizzically when I burst out, squiggling earthworm in hand, “mais il y a des vers de terre ! C’est super !!” (“There are earthworms! Awesome!!”)