Buttons (or Toots as I call her) is the final addition to our cat family.
I have to say right now that there were two things we agreed when we went to Saudi Arabia:
1. We will never have pets as they are too much of a tie.
2. Never, ever, will we take home an abandoned Saudi wild cat from town.
The first of these high and mighty principles went out of the window with Isis. The second went out of the window with Buttons. One dark Wednesday evening (the last day of the week in Saudi at the time), Peter took me to Khobar, just to get out of the compound and only to buy some buttons for one of my quilt projects. It was busy and he had to park well away from the shop, so I walked through the back streets of Khobar to get to the shop. I went on ahead to my button shop, with Peter following after he had parked the car.
On my way through a dusty, potholed, car park, I heard this “Meeeow”. I turned away but there was then an insistant “MEEEEEOW”. I could not carry on, so I went back and there was this tiny, weak, dirty, frightened little kitten. She could only have been a couple of days old and was right under the wheels of a lorry – no survival prospects at all. My heart ruled my head and I just had to save her, so I tucked her into my Abaya and waited for Peter in the shop – I wondered what he would say!
Fortunately, Peter is as soft hearted as I am and he carried the kitten back to the car, even finding a small box in a skip on the way. He made holes in the box, found a teatowel from the back of the car and had the kitten calm when I got back.
So, now four problems arose:
1: How to keep the kitten alive (neither of us had cared for an orphan before);
2: How to get her into the compound past security;
3: How to get her registered with the company Vet;
4: Whats should her name be?
A phone call to Abby helped with Problem 1 (we bought some kitten milk replacement power in a local pet store on the way home – this was fortunate as it was the last one they had).
Problem 2 was solved by tucking the kitty under my Abaya and looking innocent.
Problem 3 was solved by a kind vet after we told him that she just appeared in our back yard.
Problem 4 was easily solved – what else but “Buttons” for a name (by the way, I did manage to get my buttons from a rather surprised looking shopkeeper).
Peter was a brick caring for our little Buttons in our warm spare room. He fed her every hour for the first day – he never got any sleep, but by the third day, Buttons was lustily sucking on her syringe and taking her milk. A survivor if ever there was one! After that, we shared the feeding and cleaning, and Buttons went from strength to strength. Peter built her a maze and climbing frame out of old cardboard boxes and fabric and we gradually introduced her to the other cats. Luckily, they all accepted her and gradually she became one of the gang.
Buttons is not at all like what we thought she would be. Saudi wild cats are typically scrawny, scraggy, shorthaired, skinny and fiesty cats. Toots is small, stocky, hairy and loving (when she wants to be!). I guess good food and love had a lot to do with that. On the subject of food, when she was young, we had to drive to Bahrain to get baby food for her (none was available in Saudi). We also had to get sachets of food for the other cats when no supplies came to Saudi, and we got stopped by customs on the Causeway for bringing in meat made from cats, but that’s quite another story.
So, to cut a long story short, Buttons grew up happily and healthily with us and the rest of the cats. She survived the trips from Saudi to the UK and from the UK to Denmark and really seems to like living in the wilds of Djursland. We go for a walk around the woods and fields every day and she behaves just like a dog, following along and not going too far away. Sometimes, she gets too tired and needs to be carried home, then she crashes out in front of the log fire all night. Then, up in the moring at 5am, whining to go out.
A real character is our Toots, with a most peculiar way of walking – when she’s going somewhere, she stomps along with a most positive gait: a bit like a soldier on a forced march! Our little oasis sure beats the streets of Khobar for her and we would not be without her.