She squirmed and wobbled in my arms. The back of the rikshaw seemed like an appropriate place to her for some acrobatics. Then she quickly changed her mind, curled up in my arms and rested her tiny blob of head on the crease of my elbow; staring with button eyes at the noisy traffic out. Unmoving. Unflinching. Unperturbed.
|Day 1 at su casa|
I logged into my Facebook account scrolling for mundane updates of “significant” posts on “insignificant” activities. The 3rd post was by #WorldForAll. I never miss their updates. Can’t help but check the cutesy bundles they rescue each week. Them and some alerts from #YODA or #PetsForAdoption etc. WFA had done something different this time. Saw a video post. Assumed it was a documentary or awareness movie. Clicked and watched. 30secs into watching a helpless kitten wobble on her tripod like gait to becoming a hilarious bundle of unbelievable strength and budding life was all it took for me to ball my eyes out, like and comment. I wanted her. Ok… I’ve wanted a lot of the animals they have rescued so far. However, her story cried out to me as if it was a message tailored for me. Later on as the comments poured in, I figured the same sentiment resonated from others.
Shakes (or as I have trademarked her Sh/\kes™) was a 2-month old baby girl found and rescued by Nasreen’s help in Andheri E. She was unforgivably tormented by Mumbai monsoons and was shaking beyond a cold damp shiver. She would have most certainly met her demise had she not been rescued that fateful day. She was fostered by Nasreen and looked over by a vet who diagnosed a unique case of Cerebellar Hypoplasia (in this case Feline CH*).
|When Shakes needs me|
*Cerebellar hypoplasia is a condition in which the brain, specifically the cerebellum, is underdeveloped or small for size leading to effect on motor nerves and sensory disturbances. This affects gait, balance, and movement primarily due to tremors and incessant shaking which aggravate on excess stimulation, excitement, fear, hunger etc. and completely die down to nil when the animal is calm, sleeping, resting or not triggered by any emotion. Shakes is a rare case of CH. This can be due to genetics, malnourishment of the mother during pregnancy or possibly due to injury or physical disturbance when the mother was carrying the litter.
I educated myself on the condition and didn’t care for what it brought forth. I wanted Shakes and the only way to do this was to convince the boyfriend, Abeer, to adopt her since I had spent 2 years trying to get my father to warm up to and cuddle up with 2 rescued brats already ruling my kingdom. Abeer was always an animal lover who claimed to be a dog person but had a hidden catman somewhere in that massive heart of his. From being occupied with Elsa’s antics or lack thereof (my eldest boy) to being smitten with Ella’s grace and agility (my baby girl and Elsa’s begum from arranged marriage); I was sure he loved the little felines as much. Abeer’s mum was home alone and seeing the benefits, the presence of a pet can bring to folks home alone like my dad, was a card I played to my already expanding list of excuses for him to adopt her. For the 1st time ever Abeer did not resist. He hesitated and was anxious like a 1st time adopter but did not say NO. We took time off and went to visit Shakes at her foster. She was brought out fast asleep and just eased into my arms. It was as if I was standing outside an orphanage or a NICU and was entrusted with the most precious thing they had. She was a doll incarnate. The next 20mins we stared as she wobbled and walked, drew EVERYONE’s attention (Taro, Nasreen, her son and 1 more member from WFA included) and proceeded to curl up into 1/4th her size, decide she’s fascinated us enough and plonked off to sleep. I knew then that my gut was right all along.
|My beautiful (hot and happening) family|
Abeer’s eyes lit up and he was in love with her. He said ‘yes’ as soon as we had a private moment and I couldn’t have been elated. We explored what all did Shakes require in terms of care and handling especially more than the average cat and headed home to prep the place for her arrival.
On 15 Sep 2015, Taro (cofounder of WFA) personally brought her over to my place. He also had the chance to meet my famous duo Elsa-Ella and proceeded to ease Shakes into our lives. Abeer and I went through the formalities and forms and some cutting questions regarding her care and parvarish god forbid something were to go wrong in any situation. I was taken aback but thought these were good questions to ask folks here especially when they just as easily abandon their pets because their “pets” never really were considered “family” in the 1st place. After the formalities and a very bad cup of coffee I made for Taro, Shakes was left to be acquainted to US.
Abeer was a natural. It surprised me and then it didn’t. He cared and that’s all that mattered. If you care, the rest falls into place. This coming from someone who was a nervous wreck when she handled baby Elsa. Shakes unlike other cats seems to ease into her places. She is curious, but never looks like she is scared or bothered or whining. She sleeps and wakes up and gets exploring as if that’s her expertise through the vast expanse of her 2-month old existence. She was wary of Elsa-Ella’s presence but not scared or bolting away. Instead there came the familiar crouch and observe like an FBI tactical force veteran and then her trademark signature tripod stand. *Yes Shakes, you standing so tall alone scares the bejesus outta everyone*.
She stayed the night with Geet and me and I had a gala time entertaining her. She was feisty and sporty and adorable all in one. Her absolutely tiny frame was no hurdle against her urge to scale massive peaks like my laptop bag or the giant pillow on my bed. As long as she is watched while on a height and resting always on a soft surface, I was ok. Soft landings for her lithe body was ok with me until she got a little fatter and stronger. She bolted from one corner to the other only to bang into furniture and take a few seconds to gather herself. She loved 2 other dangerous things: climbing and playing with strings. The latter she is a huge fan off. Simplicity and bundles of love came in from watching this baby grow supremely happy with a few strings. That’s all it took to see her eyes light up, her inhibitions disappear and her nose turn pink-er with excitement. She loved human touch and connection. Leave her space for a moment and you’ll know never to underestimate the power of a kitten’s meowing. It’s the cutest loudest sound and you’ll drop/rush through whatever you are doing. Willingly.
The next day I dropped her off to Abeer’s and that’s where the real adventures began. Father and daughter ganged up and enjoyed their time together. Abeer’s momma and sister watched as he transformed from a regular Joe at home to a dedicated daddy/adopter. Abeer’s sister was 100% occupied with Shakes since she would head back to the UAE soon. Shakes was the center of attention, love, food, games, pampering and all that a new little one can possible accumulate. She loves cuddles and sleeping – no sleeping alone. She ate and played while you watched her. She was surprisingly litter trained but there came the challenge of ensuring her balance while doing her business. She constantly shook and lost her balance and fell into her poop. This was patiently resolved with wet wipes and conditioning her to balance and stay strong.
|Biker girl in the making!|
She was a delight. She didn’t demand anything which made it important for us to fix a feeding schedule, sleeping and pooping routines. She hijacked anything her paws touched and her big button eyes blackmailed out of us. I for once found myself traveling to Abeer’s more just to spend time with her. She made me feel like a momma too. I realized how much I missed kittens or more appropriately how fast my own 2 grew up that I missed when they were babies. Here was Shakes, filling that void.
Over the course of a few months, her personality traits came out in the open. She openly threatened and growled at other cats and dogs – absolutely unnerved by their size despite her having to strain to look up at them. She ran amok and ran into things often bumping her head and waiting to gather her wits. She learnt to scale higher objects and furniture by using her fore paws and landing from heights on her belly and hind knees. This makes an ugly sound and each time I find myself reaching out to grab her and comfort her. She doesn’t seem to need any. Abeer and Shakes have grown inseparable. He rushes home to her, wakes up at 5am to prepare high protein meals and even cleans up incessantly after her. Her comfort and needs come above all and I became the happiest most content spectator to it all. Somewhere watching your man turn to a puddle rearing for a little one is endearing and draws me closer to him.
He speaks to her and she seems to understand what he says – aka translate it to whatever she assumes is said. There is undeniable connect when they look at each other and she responds with paws on his face. A miniscule sense of envy washes over me when I see her literally hug him and sleep. Yep, Shakes is a cuddle bunny who hates sleeping alone. She knows the curvature of my boyo’s arm just right enough to fit herself in. Shes spoons herself into his sleeping position and usually buries herself in my hair if I’m around. Her preoccupation with attacking and playing with my hair for hours stumps me. But I’m happy to play the part too. We went through the ritual of vaccinations, neutering and even her 1st bath. I was stumped as she stood perfectly still almost submissive and awaiting the end of her 1st aqua experience. It is a blessing if no other term describes best her presence in our lives. Some people have children, we have Shakes. Her care and upbringing is in our collective priorities and we enjoy every second of it. When she was in foster care, Abeer would swing by on the bike, ask me to hop on and we would take off just to spend a few hours with her. I knew then that Abeer was a doting father/figure and when he cared, he did so from every crevice of his heart. Her tremors overtime reduced, although prominent on profound excitement. She has a tripod like gait and still walks with her hind legs stomping rather than gracefully gliding like cats do. Her head shakes when she eats but she has better control of her food and water now in a soft plastic bowl. Litter management is easier and instances of her soiling herself are far fewer.
When we open the door, seeing Shakes anticipating us is a huge moment. She stands right at the door and brings her tiny soft self to unload her cuteness on us. There is no doubt that she loves having us around. She hates being alone and maybe sometime soon we might add a companion for Ms. Shakes. Till then I will record every moment she waltzes out victorious from a massive pile of something she has successfully managed to crash.
To my love and baby girl. Nothing is bigger than you 2 in the world for me. Ma Famille
For more pics and updates, visit: https://instagram.com/gatacdo7/