Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Khartoum Cats - continued

On Saturday, (see here if you wish)I posted about the disappearance of one of the cats I've been feeding in the city.

On Sunday we stopped at the shop where the above cat had been living with her kitten, but had gone missing on Friday. I wanted to ask the shopowner to return my can-opener. After greeting him, I asked him if the cat was here and to my surprise, he said yes. Going to the back of the shop, he beckoned me to follow him. He pulled a chest deep freeze away from the wall and began to lift empty soft drinks crates from behind it. He lifted one, then two and finally three crates.Then he bent down and handed me the kitten which was meowing pitifully. I leaned over the freezer and there was the mother cat lying on bare concrete. Looking closely at the kitten, I saw that one eye was crusted closed. I dashed back to the vehicle, where my darling husband was once again, waiting patiently, and told him the cats were back. I collected the cotton wool, eye ointment and the small bottle of milk I had for the cat at the vegetable stalls.

Entering the shop again, the shopowner, who told me his name was Amir, was behind the counter serving customers. I swabbed the kitten's eye with the milk and applied the ointment. By this time a young woman had entered the shop and I heard Amir asking her if she spoke English. She nodded and when he pointed to me, she came to the back of the shop. When I asked her to ask Amir where the cat had come from, she just looked at me and said OK, OK, which turned out to be the extent of her English vocabulary. Eventually she left, giggling furiously.

Meanwhile, I gestured to Amir that I was moving the cat back to her nest behind the fridge. I asked him for water for her bowl and also asked him to open the can of tuna I had paid for on Friday. The mother cat ate some of the food and then settled back into her nest. I placed the kitten at a teat and he started suckling immediately.

By now, Amir had, between serving customers, called in a tall lad with a broom in his hand. He seemed to speak a little more English so I told him to tell Amir that I am just helping him feed the cat. I don't want to harm him or his cat. In fact, I buy the tuna from his shop, which is fed to the cat, and my husband also buys our water there every week. When he translated this, Amir seemed relieved. Here I need to interject that I am sorry I thought Amir was without integrity. It transpires that he was nervous when the cat went missing on Friday that he looked all over for it. He obviously found it nearby.

I was trying to explain to him not to "cage" the cat behind the freezer without food or water when a tall, distinguished-looking Arab gentleman entered the shop. I turned to him and asked if he could speak English, to which he replied "Of course". I told the story of the cats and that I was only helping the shopowner; I wasn't laying any claim to the cats. He interpreted this to Amir, who looked much happier. Then the gentleman smiled and said, "Perhaps we can put a small box filled with sand down for the cat" Wow! This is exactly what I had in mind, except how would I have gotten that across to Amir and the helpful lad-with-the-broom. (Imagine the gesturing and posturing I'd have to adopt to convey this without words?LOL)

Thanking the English-speaking gentleman and paying Amir for tuna until I returned on Wednesday, I left the shop. I pray that the cat remains in her nest and doesn't try to leave again.

Next we stopped at the vegetable stall but as I alighted from the vehicle, the old vendor said: "Missus, la-la" As I approached him, he said, "Kadissa, la-la" (Cat, no-no) It transpired that the cat has either died or being killed by the dogs behind the stalls. Oh well, obviously there is nothing more I can do for the poor creature.

The cat in our courtyard continues to bloom. She is very pregnant but still very wild. I can't think where she will have her kittens. We'll just wait and see...


  1. While traveling in Mexico with a x-husband and cat in a camper I tried to ask a store keeper in broken Spanish which roughly translated as "my cat poops in a box in my house and I need stuff to put in the box." Talk about a weird look. They call it Gata (cat) lime. ;-)

    Bless you for taking care of this poor stray Mama and her offspring. Sure glad someone came into the store who could help.

  2. It's terrible to see all this cat misery ! In Egypt they are quiet well taken care of, not to European standards of course, because Mohamed was a big cat lover. The arabic name for cat is "Otta" Kadissa must be a kind of dialect. My husband speeks a little arabic, so I learned a few words too, which are very helpful when I go on my yearly holidays to the Red Sea.

  3. Hi Jo, I'm back and catching up on my blog reading. I've had my heart in my throat as I've been reading about your cat resuce operations - big ((HUGS)) to you for all you are doing for the cats and their kittens around Khartoum - you know you are a woman after my own heart !
    I am so glad you found the missing Mum and her baby ... the shop owner probably 'caged' them there because he was afraid they would disappear again & he wanted to keep them for you !
    When feeding ferral cats/kittens here, sometimes they have disappeared ... the Mum has taken them to a safer place but has always returned herself to the same spot for food, sometimes we have been unable to find where she is hiding out, then weeks/months later have seen the kittens & they've been fine.
    Keep up your good work, you are an angel, Jo and the only chance these poor creatures have. There's a special place in heaven for you one day, my friend !

  4. Oh I can just imagine it, Gaelyn. My worry was the charades (which I depend on for explanations) would be too graphic with all those young lads standing around... Thanks for your sweet words.

    Hi Gattina;) Here they are also quite well looked after. The other Arabic name for cat is qett. But the local people only know Kadissa. There are so many variations in the vocab.

    Hi Lynda;) I knew you'd have wise insights into this. I worry about this mother cat and hope she's OK when I cannot get there. I haven't been since Sunday and will only get back on Friday! I'll ask dh to pop in there tomorrow and check. He did it for me last week. Glad to see you back.Thanks for your kind words.

  5. It is wonderful that there are people as kind as you in this world. I feel saddened that the cat did not make it, but you have a possible friend in the shop keeper, who may keep you in mind if another cat comes along in need of a kind hand.

  6. Hey Jo. It is good that you did not give up on the cat and her kitten. They are lucky to have you watching out for them.

  7. Thanks Grant;) that is why I tend to help creatures here in Africa. To try and encourage/educate these poor animals' keepers/owners. T

    Thanks Lori; I've not been able to get to the city since Sunday but my hubby is buying our water there today. He said he will check on the cat and kitten.

  8. Jo: What an interesting story but also sad in that the cat had died. You did what you could.

  9. Tom, it's always been my experience that something sad happens to one or more of my charges in Africa. Yet I never learn. I just go back and try again. Thanks for popping in.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo