Friday, April 9, 2010

A Big Miao from the Littlest Mahlous

Yes, the little Mahlous would be our cats, and they are a populous group that has grown and decreased and grown. Three are living with us now. That would be Murjan (whose name is Arabic for coral because he is white coral color with red coral markings on his head and tail), Intrepid (appropriately named, as I will explain later), and Simone (the derivation of whose name is a matter of phonetics; we started out with a similar Russian name that Donnie could not pronounce and then changed it to a similar-sounding French name which he could). Here is a brief summary of the history of each of these little Mahlous.

Jade-eyed Murjan is the alpha cat. As such, he is both a great watch cat and daddy cat. With visitors, he guards the door and makes sure entrants are okay for the other cats, who usually scamper away when the doorbell rings, to be around. Once someone passes Murjan's inspection, he is quite friendly, crawling into their laps and expecting to be petted. He will stay there as long as he is allowed. Once when my boss came to visit, Murjan was asleep on the top of the cat tree. As my boss quietly sat talking to me and eating an ice cream, Murjan woke up, and with a questioning "mwhuh?" he leaped from the top of the cat tree onto my boss's lap, sending the ice cream cone flying! That's Murjan. He talks. All Jordanian cats talk, and Murjan is a Jordanian. He has an extensive vocabulary for a cat that includes differing sounds to indicate confusion, intent to jump up, intent to jump down (yes, a different tone from that he uses for jumping up), request for treats, request for food (yes, a different tone from what he uses for treats), cussing me out (usually for an extended absence), and a few more. When I am home, wherever I am, there is Murjan. He follows me like a puppy dog. He also likes to have his belly rubbed as soon as I come in the door and lies on his back, with his paws up, like a puppy dog, begging for his belly rub. He raised both Interprid (who came to us around one month of age) and Simone who was several months old when we rescued her. He groomed them, let them sleep between his paws, and taught them to talk. (More pictures at the end of this post.)

Blessed with gorgeous yellow eyes ringed by brown that matches his fur, Intrepid, or Trep, as we call him, was found abandoned in a garden by one of the professors in Jordan. We think that his mother died because when we had another cat spayed at home (in Jordan, vets come to the house), Trep was terrified when the cat was out from the anesthesia. Trep looked more like a bird than a cat when we got him, and he ate non-stop for two weeks, even sleeping beside the food bowl. Fortunately, he grew secure in the thought that he would have another meal and was able to move into other rooms of the house, where, unfortunately, he discovered plants. He loved to run halfway across our near-house-sized living room, hesitate to gather power, and then spring the rest of the way into the large potted plants, tipping and usually breaking them. We finally gave up on large plants. Small plants he ate. So we gave up on those, too. We introduced a plastic plant. He ate that, too, and required some help from the vet to survive that experience. Hence, the name Intrepid. Unlike extroverted Murjan, Trep is quite an introvert. With us, he likes to cuddle but only at his times and on his terms. He disappears when company shows up, and we are usually quite abashed when we have to answer the question, "What is the name of the fraidy-cat quivering under the couch," with "Intrepid!"
Trep also has a shoe fetish. He loves shoes. Any shoes, especially those that have been very recently removed from their owners' feet. He loves putting his paws inside shoes and pretending to wear them. He will sometimes sleep beside shoes as if they were a security blanket. Trep also loves little round things -- little round red things (raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries), little round blue things (blueberries), little round black things (olives, blackberries), and the like. He sneaks up on the eater, and soon, stealthily, his paw is in the bowl, flipping out the little round thing which he then bats around the house until it "dies." Those things he does not eat. However, he does eat potato chips and crackers and once stole an entire package of deli ham from the grocery bag, tiptoeing away with it in his mouth, almost getting away with it but I caught his slinky movement out of the corner of my eye. Trapped, Trep! (More pictures at the end of this post.)

Our latest addition is Simone, a blue-eyed, Himalayan-Tabby blend. Simone was a feral cat, local to San Ignatio, who simply appeared one day at our house. She made herself a home under the house and would pop out whenever I placed food outside for the general collection of neighborhood feral cats. When we moved from that house to our current house about six blocks away, the other feral cats moved on to other feeders. (San Ignatio is full of feral cat feeders.) Simone, however, did not move on, and as we were cleaning the empty house, curiosity pulled her inside. I quickly shut the door. She shot around the house wildly until I trapped her inside an empty bedroom. Still, I could not get close enough to her to trap her, and she deftly avoided trapping herself in the cat trap that I placed in the bedroom. Well, there was nothing to do but sleep with her in the empty room overnight so that she would become more comfortable with me. I fell asleep on the hard floor pretty easily since I can sleep anywhere, but until my eyes shut, I could see that Simone was sleeping with one eye open. In the morning she had calmed down a little although she warily stayed just out of reach. Finally, I lunged, grabbed her by the nape of the neck, and with one smooth movement placed her inside the cat carrier I had also placed in the room. Off we went to the vet, whom she bit, definitely not endearing herself to him. Declared clean of disease, spayed, and trapped inside the cat carrier, she accompanied me to our new home, where she met Murjan and Intrepid. After expressing their consternation that they would have to share their home with a newcomer, Murjan moved in as the alpha cat and started grooming Simone's tangled, long hair. Intrepid joined in, learning from Murjan how to be a good big brother. Now all three romp through the house like a bonded family.

Additional pictures of the little Mahlous; check back in a few weeks for more.


  1. I love how your cats have such personality! Especially funny to think about the one that "talks." I am allergic to cats and dogs, but we have two dogs. The beagle, I am allergic to, but I do fine with the poodle.

    Our beagle is a rescue dog, and when we brought him home from the pound he ran around and around our home whining. It took awhile for him to feel "safe" here, and he still cowers sometimes, poor guy. We think his former owner abused him or something, as he used to cower a lot.

  2. It does sound like his owner probably abused him. Poor thing! It is hard to imagine why people would do such things.

    My daughter is allergic to cats, but the vet (yeah, the vet, not the doctor) was able to prescribe medicine for her that really works. You might ask your vet about that.

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    Anonymous #2, I am using blogger. It, too, has been hijacked (once). So, I don't quite know what to advise. Clan of Mahlou, so far, thank God, has not had any problems.


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