Recently I posted about a shopping trip to the nearby town of Shinyanga and how I discovered and photographed a cute little kitten in one of the kitchenware shops. At the time, one of the lady assistants told me the cat belonged to her, and when I asked its name, she burst out laughing. I introduced myself and asked her name, which was Dorcas. I said we all like to be known by our names so it would be good to give the little kitten a name as well. She said I should give my name but many Africans pronounce my name as Joy so that's the cat's name.
On that first day I had bought several packets of dried fish for our cats here at home. I fetched one asked the assistant to feed it to Joy. When I left the shop, she said Karibu Tena which means you're welcome to come again. I turned to her and said I'd support her business but in turn she was to take good care of the cat.
The next week after my driver William and I had completed our business in Shinyanga, I said I'd like to stop off at the Duka a Paka/ The Cat Shop! He knew exactly which shop I wanted to visit. Dorcas greeted me enthusiastically and ran to the back of the shop to fetch Joy. (she got to know me quickly, lol!) I placed the cat on a large fluffy blanket (which seems to be its bed!) and while stroking it, I asked if there were any toys for Joy. Of course, this question was met with giggles but I showed her how to crumple a piece of paper and attach it to a piece of string. I tied it to a vegetable rack on display next to the blanket and the cat immediately began to play with the "toy". The ladies clapped and cheered their cat for being so clever for the bibi mzungu/ white [foreigner] lady.
Just then a very well-dressed gentleman emerged from the back of the shop. He and William greeted each other like long-lost friends and then he turned to me and shook my hand. William told me that this was the shop owner. When I told him what a modern and well-stocked business he had, he beamed with pride! Then I asked if he was also the owner of the little cat, to which he said no, it belonged to his assistant. He too, was fascinated by the homemade toy and while he played with the cat, I took a photo.
After a pleasant few minutes in the shop, during which I bought a set of cake pans and an icing gun, William and I bid our friends goodbye. Once again Dorcas invited me to come again. I said, I would but she was to take care of little Joy in the meantime.
This week William and I stopped off at the Duka a Paka as I had a few toys - from our cats' large collection here at home -for Joy. As we walked in, Dorcas and one other assistant began to call the cat. After much searching they unearthed her from behind the counter. She was very
sleepy lethargic and looked a lot less healthy than the previous two times I'd seen her. I gave her the toys and she loved the catnip-filled mice and balls with bells inside.
After a while William and I said goodbye and left. As we got into the car, I mentioned that I thought the little cat looked ill. He in turn said he was sure it's not being fed. Well, I can tell you that I didn't sleep that night worrying! I also knew that it would be a whole week before I went to town again.
The next morning Grant phoned me from the office and asked if I'd go with William to Shinyanga to collect a TV stand which the company has bought for Marnitz' little cottage in our backyard. Phew. Was I thrilled and relieved!
As soon as William and I had collected the TV stand from Furniture Centre in Shinyanga, I asked him to go to the Duka a Paka. I had collected a few scraps of beef offcuts and chicken from the Guest House and asked Dorcas if we could feed it to Joy. I also had a small plastic bowl and a flat stainless steel plate for water and food respectively. The little cat gobbled up all its food while we watched and then nibbled at a couple of cat cookies which I'd also taken along. I then explained to Dorcas that she could bring a few scraps from her home and feed it to the cat every day. In between she could buy a small packet of dried fish and feed it to the cat.
That night I slept much better... and I'm sure the little cat, with a full tummy, did too!