It all seemed like a slow-motion of a nightmare scene the minute I opened the carrier door for Baji to meet the rest of the Kitzanians, his short-term hosting family. Once he set his paw out, Baji turned into a killing machine attacking and hissing at the poor cats who had gathered curiously around him sniffing. What happened to the cat who was meowing and chirping happily in the car on our way here? Like the rest of the cats I was momentarily paralysed as: 1) I wasn’t expecting such a violent reaction from Baji, the veterinary clinic’s sweetheart 2) I wasn’t sure what to do as my other male cats were becoming hostile too.
Worse than all, Baji started running away and continuing his aggressive behaviour and I knew that I had to stop him. I hurled myself at him- scraping my knees in the course-picking him off the ground and throwing him immediately into Kiki’s empty cage. Naturally, this didn’t stop him and he continued attacking from behind the mesh. I texted my vet at once begging him to hurry with the adoption ad. It was obvious that Baji couldn’t cope with other cats after a life time of being alone on the streets. The vet was kind enough to place the ad on the clinic’s FB page the very next day- along with a miserable photo of him- and the feedback was as I expected: people weren’t interested in adopting a brute-looking- three-legged-stub-tailed old cat.
The only reaction that the post got was a few hearts and sad face emojis (and someone asking if he’s the very same cat that she used to feed in Al Khuwair? Her’s was castrated and microchipped. Go figure!). Luckily – and before getting this disappointing response- I’d started an integration programme for Baji as I had no hope of him being adopted. I decided to take him out around the garden for a few minutes every day under my supervision.
The first few days were the hardest as he kept attacking the cats and hissing whenever they came nearby us. By the time we reached the second week and around half an hour of daily freedom, Baji was becoming less aggressive. Outwardly, I’d leave him unsupervised but secretly check on him now and again.
At that time, he went out of the house twice to explore the neighbourhood and came back running afraid of the sound of car engines. The following month of January was rainy and Baji’s cage filled up with mud. He had to stay indoors in the guests’ bathroom for weeks till the cage dried up. Our helper- who fell for Baji’s charms like the vets’- decided to revamp his den for him. He paved it with interlock, added some grass doormats and a basket lined with a new blanket. Baji loved the new restorations and barely left the cage!
The cats were envious that he was having his own space while the rest of them had to spread around the garden and share blankets. When being outside, Baji would sit next to the cage and defend his territory by hissing and slapping whoever dares to come near. Now he follows a strict daily routine (and reminds us of it if necessary): he’s out at 9 am and back in again willingly at 5 pm (with a plate full of chicken or dry food). He’d devour his supper happily while the rest of the Kitzanians watch him grudgingly, waiting for theirs to be prepared. He’d retire to his basket and stay there till the morning. That’s shear cat luck!
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org