He lives!

kuro-day1.jpg
Kevin reminded me in the comments that I left everybody hanging. Well, the kitten made it through the night. Sorry for the crappy photo, I’m not used to the new phone’s focus. But you can see that he looks a lot better, right? And I have dubbed him, alternatively, Yoda, Gollum, and Kurozuke, or kuro-chan for short. Why did I give him horrible names? Well, he’s completely adorable until you look him in the face. His eyes are rolled up and outward, with a protective pink sheath still covering the lower hemisphere of his eyeballs. The effect this creates is hard to describe, but let’s just say this cat could be a movie star if I taught him how to say, “my preeeeecioooouus…” I have no idea why his eyes are messed up like that; the night we found him I thought it was because the raging waters had blinded him. Later, after drying him, his eyes opened a little bit but were covered with this mucousy eye-milk (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term for eye-crap), which I wiped off.
I hope his eyes heal. If it’s just a minor injury or temporary affliction (could he be so young that his eyes haven’t fully opened?), I think there might be a chance for his eyes to heal, because kuro-chan is a scrapper. Remember how I said he might die on the night we rescued him? He was basically in a coma all night interrupted periodically by little coughing fits. When he woke, we fed him and made him nurse water from a dish towel, and within an hour he was stretching his legs and walking around – clumsily, but with surprising vigor. His unsure footing made me realize, again, that this kitten is probably less than a month old, and some living piece of shit threw him in a storm drain… But even thinking about that just gets to me, so I’ll switch gears.
I ended up calling him kuro-chan (English equivalent: Blackie?) because he’s black and small and… Black. Go figure. Actually, I don’t have the official naming rights. After much thinking about what to do with him, my sister decided care for him until she goes back to the states in August. We were worried about what to do with him after that, but it turns out that another teacher who lives near my sister might take him for us.
Finding this little creature has spurred a lot of thinking about what is right in the context of being a foreigner with a different set of values. For instance, if Japan were a land where cats were raised on farms as livestock, delivered to slaughterhouses in cages, and ultimately, their flesh sliced neatly and eaten raw over slabs of vinegared rice, would it be any less wrong to throw an unwanted kitten in the storm drain?
Hey, I didn’t say it was coherent thinking, did I?
It was pretty goddamn sad to remember for the hundredth time that there is really nowhere to take abandoned pets in Japan. I know. I’ve asked policemen, animal shelter workers, and many many pet owners about this problem. They say there is usually no solution in the short-run if you find abandoned pets (which I do alost every year), but they almost all have one common observation: People need to be educated much better than they are now. When I went off on my “spay and neuter” rant the other day it was partially because I have talked with many pet owners in Japan who don’t know what these terms mean; the concept of de-sexing is totally strange to them. I find this sad because it’s a glaring fault in a society that is so modern and decent in many ways. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that people don’t kill unwanted pets in other coutries. I’m just saying that I don’t see so much evidence of it every year in densely populated and relatively affluent areas of any other countries I’ve gone.
It seems I can’t write about the kitten without getting worked up. I’m putting myself on time out. In the meantime, I ask that you pray to your god for the kitten’s eyes to heal. Quickly. I feel guilty for being a human every time I look at his face.

5 thoughts on “He lives!”

  1. Wow. Great story, CB. The first post was harrowing, but its nice to hear that things are working out now. I can’t belive you left everybody hanging the next day… I think a lot of what you say about the lack of knowledge and irresponsible pet owners goes for a lot of other countries, the US included (but we are more willing to spend money to “put down” animals in a painless way). Is widespread pet ownership a recent thing in Japan?

  2. Are we talking about the kittee’s nictitating membranes?
    Glad the cat’s doing better. Healthy cats are chewier and tastier.
    Kevin
    PS: Koreablogs are being censored by the SK govt right now (related to the Kim Sun-il beheading), so I don’t have access to my own blog: Blogspot is one of the services being blocked. Glad I can still read around, though.

  3. Jen – yes, widespread pet ownership is kind of new I suppose… Post-war I imagine anything moving was called “dinner.”
    Kevin – yeah, nictitating membranes was what I was guessing at (you gotta be shitting me – is that reallly the term?), but it turns out he had an eye infection from right after he was born. My sister took him to the vet and got some eyedrops for it. One eye has healed completely but the other is still messed up and milky. The vet said he might be blind for life, but it seems he will have the use of at leat one eye. I hope the other one opens, though, because he has no depth perception now. That’s a big problem for a curious kitty.

  4. Wow. He’s looking much better. That first pic was heart-rending. Glad he’s bounced back. I probably wouldn’t tell him about the neutering thing for a while, though.

  5. I’m sure your new devil–I mean, sweetheart–will be fine. He’s getting good care from you! Keep pictures posted as he gets bigger…
    My rescue-cat now thinks she’s the Queen. Drives me batty: constantly yolwing at doors, a nose in everything and paw in anything left over. I’m sure she has an eating disorder from being stray–compulsive overeating is her main mode of consumption.
    Good luck with the kitty!
    Andi

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