Thursday, August 7, 2014

And now, Jean Louis

How many cats are named after Jack Kerouac?

Two, at least. After finding the kitten that became known as Jack in New Zealand it was only a matter of time before another cat found me.

It was a Facebook romance. I first saw him on the page of the Animal Rights and Rescue group and gasped with recognition. That's my cat, I said.

Which was odd, as he wasn't really my kind of cat at all. He was a tiny kitten, mostly white, with black blotches.  The cats I really love are often striped, and older.

But love is strange (as I'm discovering through reading The Sorrows of Young Werther).

I read on Facebook that the kitten (called 'Bubba', presumably because he was so tiny) was to travel from the town of Grafton to Lismore so that he could be adopted by someone. And I happened to be at the Animal Rights and Rescue no-kill shelter in Lismore the day he arrived, transported from Grafton by a lovely volunteer named Lynda, who was also bringing  a dog named Jazz to meet her prospective owners.

'That little kitten's eyes are popping out of his head', she said, and uncovered the towel from his cage, still on the front seat of her car. I saw a tiny, enormous-eyed kitten cowering there. He was taken into the cat area and put into a roomy pen, tall enough for people to go in and pat him, and fed and watered. He was too stressed to eat, but found his way into a hammock hanging at human chest height.

I was at the shelter to research a 'day in the life of' story about it. This well-run no-kill shelter is run entirely by donations and volunteers. I had volunteered to do a story free for a local free paper, so that the people of Lismore would know what a great resource they had. It's an impressive set-up. Most of the animals are fostered out, but there are dog and cat pens for needy animals and new arrivals. The group were trying to get the local council to give them money to continue operating (they take all the unclaimed dogs and cats from the Council pound, and the council hasn't had to kill an animal for years.) But frustratingly, it was a no from the council, and the group is  now facing such pressure that they can't take any more animals at present, they are so desperately short of funds. Head over to their home page and make a donation - every few dollars will help.

 Anyway, that day I kept going back to visit the kitten, who would stand up in the hammock and nuzzle  my face. He was only about 5 weeks old, found wandering by himself in the streets of Grafton.

I was dizzy with love. I'd go out to the office to observe what was going on (Jazz meeting her new family and wandering from person to person with a puzzled look on her face), and then head back to 'my' kitten. It was a no-brainer, really. I needed a cat and he needed a home.

I called him Jean Louis, which were Jack Kerouac's given names, as a link to the other kitten Jack, who would become Louis' cousin.

They let me take him home at the end of the day, saying I could foster him for a fortnight and then decide. But I knew I wouldn't be giving him back.

Since then, he has grown fast.

He's a weird, tall kitten, who sucks his tail for comfort and is woefully unsocialised, as he was separated from mother and siblings so early he thinks it's okay to attack my feet.

We're working on that.

Jean Louis gets called Louis, or Lou-Lou, or Looby (as in 'Here we go looby loo').

Here he is demonstrating how nicely he can wrap his black tail around his white feet, in a rare, still moment.

And the quiet cat
  sitting by the post
Perceives the moon

Jack Kerouac, a haiku