The Cat and The Plumber

The washing machine is on the brink and I needed to call in the service. When I got home from work yesterday, I inspected the machine, went through my standard troubleshooting checklist, and surmised that this was beyond me, since I had never handled a built-in machine and was out of my depth in taking it apart (unlike the previous ones where I knew what to open up and how... Sadly, I put back the baseboard and picked the phone. 

In Germany, calling in any technician or handyman to provide a service that is beyond my mechanical skills is an expensive moment, so I swallowed my horror and dialled the number. The technician showed up at the door within two hours, which was already a huge plus point in his favour, considering it was 20:00 (their website says they are on duty from 08:30 - 22:00). A friendly, competent and no frills fellow took one look and within two minutes identified the problem, taking it one notch higher by explaining the mechanics of the situation to me, probably sensing that I was was not mechanically incompetent.

While tinkering around the machine for further inspection and punching his tablet to provide an exact estimate of the job required, a cat head suddenly poked out from under the cabinet. We all stared at Champagne in amazement as she stuck her head full of cobwebs out and snorted happily at everyone. She was very reluctant to emerge from her hiding place and looked smug as a bug in a rug. As far as I can tell, she snuck in while I had removed the board earlier and I never noticed it, otherwise I would never had put the baseboard back! She has pulled a similar trick before, crawling under the sink and behind the dishwasher, and falling asleep there for several hours until I had to trace a mysterious meowing emerging from inside the cabinets. Ever stood in front of a dishwasher and wondered why it was meowing?

The technician was stunned, but once he got over his surprise he started laughing his head off, not only at the expression of the cat, but the fact that she was covered in cobwebs and snorted happily at him. "Ha ha ha! She has cleaned the area thoroughly!"he said with the greatest amusement. She wiggled her little bottom, shook herself clean, and looked up happily at the visitor, asking to inspect his tool case. 

So although I have a large bill coming my way, I also have a technician returning in a couple of days with the spare part who is very much looking forward to meeting my nosey noseless cat again. 

Lolita´s Adoptiversary

I could think of no better topic for this Easter than the first "adoptiversary" of the most senior cat in the house, Lolita. Last year to date, I brought home a terrified and traumatised creature from the Tierschutzverein Berlin (Berlin Animal Shelter). She had just undergone 2 surgeries and teeth extractions, was completely shorn and scared of humans and cats alike who spent the next two weeks under the bed, eating and sleeping there, emerging at night only to use the loo quickly. Of the three cats I have rescued, Lolita has required the most patience and care. It took over half a year for her to feel comfortable enough with the rest of the flatmates and spend time on the sofa.

At 13, change does not come easy for grand old dame, and she absolutely hates it when I move furniture around. Cherry has learned to go along for the ride wherever it is the sofa is being moved to, whereas Champagne watches with joy and excitement as the house degenerates into an unholy mess. Lolita, on the other hand, will scramble for cover, eyes big as saucers, and be grumpy for the next two days because she needs to reorient herself. 

She has terrible eyesight, would need glasses if that were possible, and her hearing is not that good either. Cats are selective listeners as it is, but Lolita is partially deaf and therefore spooks easily, and has absolutely no idea what planet she is on when woken up from a deep slumber. On the other hand, in the 12 months that she has been here, her emotional and psychological transformation has been phenomenal. She is now the Alpha Cat, using her age and seniority to boss everyone else around. She has no volume control, so she either shouts her requests or whispers silently.

Like Cherry, this rescue cat has learned to demand affection, and is a shameless kitty when it comes to doing so. She will climb and walk all over the designated cuddle human when she sees it fit to do so. The cat who spent weeks beneath the bed out of arms reach is now happy to sleep on my tummy, snooze on an available lap, and will march into the kitchen and shout for breakfast or dinner. 

As a venerable senior citizen Lolita is absolutely adorable. She is sociable and polite when necessary, will bully Champagne and Cherry away from food, sofas and beds with her mere presence (albeit her brain seems to live on Mars most of the time), and if there is an unattended bowl of food standing around, the other two will defer to Granny, or Omi Loli as we call her. Speaking of food, that is another fascinating transformation. Because of her numerous teeth extractions, she doesn't eat too much dry food, but will lick her bowl clean with the wet food. She may be feather-weight, but her appetite surpasses the other two cats combined, and even after she has finished her own food she will go around and polish up whatever leftovers she finds. Unless she doesn't like the menu, then she will march into the kitchen and ask for something else / more. 

I wrote about the ripple effects of service the other day, and rescuing abused or abandoned old cats is my way of serving. Lolita is the epitome of emotional resurrection and I often time see myself in her, fighting back at any cost, and learning that the world is not just about trauma and pain. Love, patience and understanding are transformative powers, if you know how to share and receive them alike.

A blessed and happy Easter to one and all. 

Cherry´s Adoptiversary

Thanks to social media, new and ridiculous words have entered the colloquial language. Phrases such as WhatsApp it to me, or did you Slack it to him?and my pet peeves,have you facebooked today yet? orI unfriended her. It doesn't just happen in English, this linguistic abomination is pretty widespread in German as well, and any other language that uses mobile phones, online messengers, and is basically internet dependent. 

As a writer, I am a language snob, but as a translator, I transform into a language purist who does not believe in diluting or corrupting. Spanglishor Denglishare unacceptable in my house, and as is Taglish, although I am aware that globalisation and the prevalent use of the internet in our daily lives prevent me from keeping this up much longer. In any case, one such crazy word that has emerged amongst pet owners in recent years, thanks to Facebook and Instagram, is adoptiversary, or as you will find it on Instagram, #adoptiversary #gotchaday. Mind you, the same hashtags are used for announcing or celebrating adoption of children as well. 

In any case, it has been one year to date since I adopted Cherry from the Tierschutzverein Berlin (Berlin Animal Shelter). Gone is the terrified and depressive cat that I brought home, and in her place I have an affectionate little shadow who is generous with her attention, runs a tight ship around the house, making sure that the schedule is followed at all times, and a creature who knows where everyone is and what they are doing, two-legged and four-legged alike. If anyone gets up in the middle of the night to visit the facilities, rest assured that Cherry will appear out of nowhere and sit outside the door until you are done, and in some cases, even escort you back to bed.

The biggest revelation is that Cherry is a dairy junky. She adores milk, will fight anyone for yoghurt, and will lick on a piece of cheese if offered. She does not steal from the table (except butter, if left unattended), and cold cuts or any other food don't interest her, unless it is cat food, of course. So now I have lactose and sugar-free yoghurt in the fridge as a special treat for the girl, who recently turned 11 years old. Crinkly plastic packaging send her running across the room or draw her from the deepest slumber, because it all sounds like the bag of kitty treats that she loves so much. 

She and the two other cats had a huge following on Instagram (10K++) before I closed down the account, and Cherry, with her cute little dragon-like eyes, attracted quite a few fans. She is not as sociable as Champagne when it comes to strangers, and it has been a long and bumpy road in the affection department, getter her used to hugs and being carried around. But she has established herself as a faithful and steady companion, and claimed her niches.

No regrets whatsoever.

2018 was a year of life-changing decisions and events, some good, some bad, some terribly wrong, but adopting Cherry was definitely one of the best decisions I made (Champagne disagrees, however). I still have to remind her from time to time that she is no longer in the shelter and hence does not need to face the wall if she wants her peace and quiet, but otherwise, she has opened up and learned to be mindful (yes, mindful) of others. 

Spring Adventure!

We started off with a lavish brunch at home, followed by an almost obligatory walk along the river. I say almost obligatory because we were so full that a certain amount of movement was required to digest everything. Champagne, of course, came along for the fresh air and sunshine, snorting her way joyfully from the moment she was put in the travel backpack.

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When Holidays Are Not Holidays

The humans are able to travel worry-free, knowing that their pets are in good hands, and will no freak out when they return from holidays. The felines are content with the fact that they continue to receive the daily service of food-water-clean toilet, with the additional perk playtime and cuddles.

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