Queuing in the bakery, I brushed a few Target hairs from my tee. Seeing it, the cashier launched instantly into a chat about her cats.
That’s how it is in Malaysia: A bit of cat fur will net you instant friendships. I get to meet a lot of new people because with Target being orange, Tic Tac white and Inkie a tuxie cat, I’m constantly decorated with fur.
I’m not bothered because I rate a cat cuddle much higher than being fur-free. Also, I enjoy talking to fellow cat lovers. But my neater friends suggest that I might avoid having to run sticky tape all over myself before business meetings simply by keeping pristine items to one side.
Frankly, it’s a move that’s doomed to failure because both Target and Tic Tac insist we have kisses before I step out the door. There’s no choice; the second I pick up my bag, it’s meow-meow-meow, plus huge eyes. In between kisses, I reassure them I’m coming back.
As for Inkie, our youngest cat telegraphs his emotions by shooting dark looks complete with flattened ears. If you try and assure him, he sinks into the floor, turning himself into an inch-high kitty, and slinks off. His message is unmistakable. Inkie does not approve of our going out. Ever.
Although Inkie doesn’t do goodbyes, it was his cuddling that caused consternation in the local pub.
Inkie has always been a happy, friendly soul but like most kittens, he was too busy when little to be a lap cat. He’d jump on, headbutt, and go.
The swift visits might have been partly due to Target. When Tic Tac is enjoying a chin rub, it’s not unknown for Target to march up and push her off me. He doesn’t whap her but the shove is meaningful. I am his human and my old boy is jealous.
If Target were human, I’d give him a lecture on respect and autonomy before putting my foot down. As he’s my furry friend, I let him do what he wants. Spineless and unethical, but there you go.
Inkie is respectful around Target so perhaps he held off major cuddles because of that possessiveness. He may also have been ticklish. I’ve noticed that kittens tend to have super sensitive backs, whiskers and chins; all the areas where adult furries love to be petted.
Whatever it was, Inkie began cuddling about three months ago. It started at night with a snuggle after our bedmaking game before lights out. Our youngest cat really enjoyed those tail scritches and chin rubs because he started jumping into bed and asking for pets before breakfast.
Before long, Inkie would step onto me on the sofa, stay for 30 seconds, and move on. To begin with, I wasn’t sure if he wanted a hug or was hinting about dinner. But when the visits became longer and took place immediately after supper and second supper, it was clear our boy was innocent of ulterior motives. He was purely enjoying the pets.
The thing is, happy cats purr, which is pawsome, and they headbutt, which is nice but they also claw. They can’t help it.
Inkie is a huge cat, he definitely has a bit of Maine Coone in him, or perhaps Black Panther, so when he stretches, relaxes and then nails you, it’s unmistakable. At first, I wasn’t too bothered because Inkie’s snuggles were short. Also, each time I’d wince, he’d stop and then be off.
But it did have me think back to the time when Target was a kitten. He had a full set of chef’s knives for claws, still does, and yet he is careful with me. Target runs his claws over my skin, being very careful to hold them sideways so the tips don’t scratch.
He also puts a paw on my hand and curls his claws around my fingers. It’s the weirdest sensation having those razors run around skin but Target is so careful that we’ve never had a problem. In fact, I stroke his claws and in between his paw pads. When I do that, he squeezes his eyes shut and the fur on his spine stands up a little. The raspy purr says he really enjoys that. I think it may tickle.
Thinking back, I remembered it took a while to teach Target that humans don’t have fur. Back then, I did it by modelling the behaviour I wanted, and gently guiding him away from the stuff I didn’t.
So when Inkie jumped up, purring in anticipation of scritches, I put a finger under one paw and rubbed gently. His claws slid out – and immediately sliced under my nail. That brought it home to me that it’s important to remember that cat paws come in different sizes.
Thankfully my other trick, rubbing the tops of his feet, gently helped reduce clawing. Inkie thought it was a bit weird, but he did enjoy a paw rub. So as he purred, I stroked his face, neck and back, and each time his claws curled, I stroked his toes.
With him clawing less, I winced less. Inkie’s visits moved beyond a half minute and stretched.
We tried holding claws and discovered through trial and error that a bigger finger works well. Again, Inkie thought it a bit weird but when it came with less wincing and more pets, he was all for it. We’re not perfect yet, but we’re improving all the time.
Last week we had a five-minute cuddle, with Inkie flat out on top of me, furry head tucked under my chin and paws around my neck, using his claws very carefully as I ran my hands over his back.
I thought it was a win, there was no puncturing at all, but I have sensitive skin, the kind that accepts tiny scritches in principle but then raises giant welts soon after.
So when I put Inkie on the floor, brushed my tee quickly and Grabbed up to our neighbourhood pub, I was oblivious to the welts that were rising all over my neck.
When the new waiter stared and twitched, I thought it was shyness or new job nerves. It was only when I ducked into the loo that I realised I looked as if a vampire had feasted on me.
Although I’m not very vain, I do draw the line at frightening bar staff. I’m thinking of adopting a scarf, like Freddie in Scooby Doo, to hide the neck marks.
Also, seeing I now wear three colours of fur, I might adopt camo (clothing). It’s not exactly flattering but with ugly trending again, I may set a new fashion. Just think, it may create a gig market for packets of loose fur. If so, all us pet lovers can cash in!
Melur is a purebred – a Maine Coon. She’s four years old. Little Melur was surrendered to the shelter in January with three other Maine Coons, all in horrible condition.
At first Melur was skinny, and she also had flu. Shelter staff suspected she was kept only for breeding purposes and once the cats were deemed not fit for breeding, the "owner" decided to surrender the three cats.
Melur’s sisters have found happy forever homes. Melur is the last one to be homed as she tends to shy away from new people. Staff think she is shy due to the environment in unethical breeding.
As you can see, Melur is fresh from her bath. She’s totally healthy now, and her fur is growing back. She needed her tail shaved when she arrived because of the awful condition she was in.
This is definitely the Before photo. With love, she’s going to grow into her natural beauty.
Interested adopters please contact PAWS and ask for Melur, Tag No.: C226 (2022.01.15).
She is at PAWS Animal Welfare Society, Jalan PJU 1A/20, Ara Damansara, 47301 Subang, Selangor. (phone: 011-2193 5651/ website: paws.org.my).