The minute the artist set his foot in Kitzania, he was pretty nervous. Never being around cats meant that he had the typical misconceptions of all non-cat owners: cats are sly and good for nothing but eating and sleeping (I couldn’t agree more with the last part).
My curious indoor cats were lying around when he arrived. He was impressed by Naeemo’s cute looks and asked about her name. Mom answered: “Naeemo. She’s a true lady! You’ll lover her!”
My aunt disagreed instantly while Naeemo kept giving me her usual told-you-so looks that I ignored. The next day, the cats were too curious to stick to the plan we discussed in our meeting. Sinan kept following the artist around the house —almost stalking him — and tried to get into his bedroom, which was kept locked as it had many plastic bags (Sinan’s biggest complex). Yet he managed to slip in and pee on them when nobody was looking. Even Poppy who never left her territory got interested and came out in the evening while we were watching TV in the living room. She insisted on saying hello by rubbing herself on my aunt’s back before sitting opposite of the artist and staring at him indifferently.
He wondered loudly if she was the blind one as her eyes looked funny. I corrected him: “Nope! This is the cross-eyed one!” Poppy wasn’t impressed by the nickname.
As an apology, the artist quickly offered her a photo session, which she ignored and watched TV instead. The three weeks spent in Kitzania were a true learning experience for the artist. He discovered a new cat fact every single day.
For example: he was astonished to know that like humans, cats got fatal diseases such as kidney failure and cancers. However, he never understood how I could tell my cats apart when all tabbies and all black ones looked alike (at times he thought that Sinan, Poppy, and Azhar were the same cat!).
In his country, stray cats were of a different breed and tabby colour never existed — he called it green. He concluded that tabbies were untrustworthy, especially after Sinan’s successful attempts in breaking into his room more than once!
I gave him a tour around Kitzania and Dogzania (the wadi where I fed the stray dogs). He was impressed by my pack of wadi dogs and being an artist commented on their beautiful brown coat colour, something I’d never noticed before.
Hajras the dog came visiting out of curiosity and was welcomed by the Kitzanians’ hisses and crouched bodies! While touring Kitzania, the cats kept scattering around the artist as they were surprised by his heavy steps, especially Azhar who planned to say hello but ran away instantly!
That very evening the artist heard a big fight outside and wondered about it. I assured him that it was normal as Kitzanians were protecting their territory from intruders (or fighting with each other to kill time if not each other!).
Kiki — who was hiding for days assisting the situation before showing up- decided to introduce herself in her special way. She performed an impressive acrobat where she chased a fly and flipped in the air to catch it, which left the artist awestruck (her daily routine, nothing new really!).
Duja made an appearance and was given a pity look. His patchy tail gained him the nickname ‘sausage cat’ and a baffled exclamation: “Did he just meow and call you Mama?” The thing that the artist didn’t know at the time was that he was being watched and studied by fat Mansoor. (To be continued....)
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org