Attention Star Wars Nerds, I am Naming the 4 Kittens with Jedi Flava

They definitely deserve Star Wars names, as pointed out by Tina in the FB comments. The thing is, I’m kind of a Star Wars purist — there were three movies, and that’s it. Fuck Ani. Fuck Qui-Gon Neeson. Fuck double-bladed lightsabers.

The Internet isn’t much help as far as names that people have already thought of – Darth Claw, Jabba the Cat, and the like. I’m not really a cat person, and I need to feel like I tried a little bit harder.

So here’s a list of what I have so far:

1. Lando Meowrissian (well, I did say a little bit, right?): Lando for short. What can I say? I’m a big believer in Billy Dee.


Note: As a group, I am tempted to go with Rogue Squadron or simply, the Rogues. They are little wild things, after all.

2. Commander Wedge Antilles: Because he was Rogue Leader and the only pilot to survive both Death Star runs. He was also a pilot on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, the best Star Wars movie ever made.


3. Admiral Hackbar: Because hairball.


4. Akira Kurosawa: With Star Wars, George Lucas basically made a Murican version of The Hidden Fortress, but don’t take my word for it (side-by-side YouTube comparison).


5. Wickat: yub yub


I just remembered that the last kitten I had, in Japan, was named Yoda. Yoda, the one-eyed kitten who my sister hand-carried to America and was possibly eaten by a coyote in his later years. In Yoda’s honor, I will put all of these new kitten posts in his category: Yoda the Kitten.

Any suggestions?

Boba Fett Birthing Station

So my wife left for Japan for two weeks yesterday, and shit got immediately real. On top of single parenting, working,  and doing homework for Masters class, I was somewhat unhappy to find that a feral cat had given birth behind our outside AC unit.


It looked like a litter of 3, but I’ve now confirmed 4. I guess the only thing that made me really happy about this (besides inherent kitty cuteness, which does not work on me so much right now because cuteness implies children, and I have my own brood to take care of right now, thank you) was that mommy cat moved them into a box of old stuff, and they slept in a Boba Fett mask last night.



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Yoda Revisited

Looking through some photos I took last year brought back memories of the one-eyed kitten we rescued and eventually named Yoda. His was a happy ending.
My sister took him as carry-on when she went back home to the states last summer. He now lives at my family’s house and apparently weighs more than our Shih Tzu.
I have missed having pets here in Japan.

The Missing Kitten Epilogue, or, How a Ferret Stole My Thunder

So I suddenly got to thinking about the little black kitty I rescued a few months back, because, well, I miss him (BTW, the name Yoda stuck). I realize that I perhaps never related his ultimate fate here (a true catblogger I shall never be – hurray!). He was accepted as carry-on luggage when my sister went back home, and he now lives with Adam’s cat, Boo, and my dad’s little anklebiter dog, Jak, at our home in Fountain Valley, CA (AKA Pleasantville – a city so nondescript it’s often chosen as a relocation site for the FBI’S witness protection program).
I still haven’t posted my pics from my trip down to Kyushu (upon review I found them to be a bit -ahem! – disappointing) in July, but the trip was memorable as I went for the sole purpose of passing Yoda off to my little sis, and basically carried him in my arms everywhere I went. Girlfriend did not accompany me on this trip, so it was kind of nice basking in the glory of cute cuddly one-eyed glory afforded by the little rascal (A message from Justin’s auto-disclaimer circuit: It was nice in the sense that I could appreciate how a single, unattached man would have enjoyed such attention), especially since I discovered there’s not a whole lot of places that will kick you out for holding a cute ball of fuzz to your chest, even if they have “No Pet” signs. It’s kind of embarassing, but at the Japanese pseudo-mall, I would walk into a store and feel like a cool guy for Having the Coolest Toy, the kind Not for Sale in most stores.
Anyway, cut to the Kikuchi gorge, which is a beautiful, well, gorge – with a river running through it where people go to hike and take in nature in its purest (in Japan, anyway) form. The majority of people who visit this place – at most – take a daypack with drinks and snacks, except for the occasional nerd photographer that takes a huge camera bag, tripod, and other geekcessories w/obligatory yellow NIKON tags on everything (don’t even say it – I only took my consumer-grade Coolpix and a lens cloth). I took great pride in only packing in a kitten (had my little bro carry the backpack). So I’m in “Got a Kitten for the World to See” mode, hiking the trails and making people happy when they see me, when I come to a narrow part of the trail and stop to let people coming down pass. The last person in the gaggle is a withered old lady in a sunhat and Chanel shades, holding a ferret in her arms.
Suddenly aware that the cool factor of my kitten has dropped several degrees, I awkwardly try to start up a conversation with the stupidest opening line I can think of: “Is that a ferret?”
She answers, “yes.” (I can just picture those ancient eyes rolling up behind those Chanels.)
I try another angle; for some unconscious reason I need somehow to steal this venerable pair’s thunder, but am apparently ill-equipped in the wit department on this particular day: “Nice weather today, isn’t it?”
This does not even elicit a response and I can picture the words “jesus hurryupandgetthe FUCK OUTTA MY WAY!” written all over her face.
Yoda, who had been asleep during the hike, wakes up and starts wriggling around in my arms. He wakes to find an extremely interested predator staring straight at him from two feet away. There is a moment frozen in eternity when I can see the ferret is about to pounce – which I use as a chance to escape up the trail, away from the demonic obachan and her pet hellhound. To be quite honest, I don’t know who was more upset, me or the cat, but I pet his head as we retreat, mumbling “must stay away from eeevil ferretses, gollum – they only wants tasty kitten gutses!”
In retrospect, that kitten was a blast to carry around. I have a feeling I could stop using underarm deodorant, if I only had a puppy. Hell, with a baby I could stop wearing socks…

Land of Packaging

So I checked the kitten in and I’m sitting next to some smelly foreigners at the gate. They are big and hairy – the gorillaest one actually has hairs sticking out through the back of his knit polo shirt. Gross.
Anyway, I brought the kitten in a red picnic basket thingy we bought somewhere for like 500 yen. Nam found this free coupon on the web for a rental cat carrier so I figured we’d transfer him over to it at check-in. The staff, however, had another idea. They took the top off the rental carrier, placed the entire picnic basket (with sleeping Yoda inside) into it, padded all four sides of the basket with cardboard and bubble wrap, then taped the whole contraption together and screwed the carrier back together. I am beyond asking why at this point, but it was reminiscent of a high-end department store where they use bags on boxes on wrappings on inner boxes wth partitions, ribbon, and a cherry on top.


Found out we can sent the kitten by ANA to Fukuoka from Itami (Osaka airport) for 2,000 yen (20 bucks). The debauchery I cancelled in Nara/Wakayama this weekend is back on track!
I wonder if the one cat per plane rule is for domestic flights as well?
I’m sure gonna miss the little carpet-shitter.

Hand Carry It Is

I’m planning to carry the little booger all the way to Kyushu this weekend. I’ll pass him off to my sister, drink some Kyushuvians under the table again, eat some Aso beef-on-a-stick, and come back on a return flight for work and a new chapter of Talking with Myself. That’s my temporary plan, anyway.
Yoda will be a good American, I just know it. He fucking hates the Taliban.
Oh, in case you haven’t noticed: I’m on a blogging binge today.

My Little American

If all goes according to my master plan, by this time next week Yoda the kitten will be on US soil, forever! We (as in, “Nam”) are working hard to have my sister hand carry him back home next week. Today, the vet announced that Yoda’s eye has completely healed (as in, “sealed totally shut” – he’ll never see out of the eye, but it won’t kill him, either) due to our daily eye washing regimen and, I suspect, also the fish oil capsules I’ve been splitting with him. (He loves the fish oil. I merely tolerate it. But we both have disgusting breath for a few hours after. Bonding at its root levels.)
The vet estimates his age at almost exactly two months old, and gave him a rabies shot today (poor baby!). I am sad because Yoda has been keeping me company during the times when I usually talk to myself – I’ve been teaching him about Life, instead. I’m very proud to be raising a bilingual kitten. He can “nyan” in Japanese and “meow” in English… Been training him for the interview at Immigration, you see. Nobody’s gonna call my kitten an FOB.
Did you know that there is an actual aviation regulation that permits only one feline per aircraft? Cool. My little sis is calling to reserve the slot now. Apparently, you can carry on pets or check them in as luggage, although carry-on is sometimes frowned upon (I guess if it wasn’t, the terrorists would be using pit bulls instead of nail clippers).
Much more to research. Will report later. The best thing to come out of this may be the addition of the line “Cat Exporter” to my resume. Aside from my kitty being safe, healthy, and American, that is. Woooooooooooooooooooot!

Growing Pains

The kitten grows as I type these very words. The trip to the vet two days ago showed his growth rate as what I thought to be impossible. The first time we weighed him, he was 220 grams. The second time, only six days later, he was 330 grams!
His eye is getting a lot better. The goopy stuff leaking from the burst eyeball cleared up as a result of daily eye washing, medicated eye drops, and the antibiotics course we feed him. Sight will never be restored to that eye as it is too damaged, but some of the coloring has been restored – it was previously just a protruding white blob.
He has gotten a lot more vocal and mewls when he wants attention, food, or both (pretty much all the time). We trimmed his nails because they get needlelike fairly quickly, and bought him some scratching posts. The posts came with some powdered catnip and I was curious as to the efficacy of “cat cocaine” on a kitten, so I dabbed a teeny bit on his nose. Pow! He went into hyperspeed for about 1.5 seconds, streaking across the room, banging his head on my computer, then rebounding and racing back to us. So, catnip does work on kittens, but not for very long. I’ll save the rest for when he gets older, maybe craft a little freebase pipe for him out of glass tubing as a post-op recovery present.
We’re going up to Nagoya to see the Sumo tournament tomorrow, but I’ll find some time to post some more pics of him soon. Damn. Never woulda thought I’d be catblogging. I’m a dog person, if anything.

Kitten Update: I need your advice

The cat is permanently blind in one eye. The eyedrops received at the first trip to the vet worked for his right eye, which is now normal, but the left eyeball has burst like a rotting grape. Eeew. Poor Yoda (now his official name since we are very unlikely to find a home for him with someone else) is in pain when his eye needs to get flushed with sodium wash. We have to hold his little kitty paws as he mews in pain. Absolutely heartbreaking I tell you. At this point I have stopped hating society as a whole for abandoning this little baby (the vet says he was a month old when we found him), and have merely become indifferent. I was so intent on hating, it was probably giving me an ulcer. Which I found kind of self-defeating. Even though this latest Osaka pervert bullshit with my sister drove me to the edge again. Man, fuck civilization. Whatever, I just need to let it go. Like it says in the song Nada Cambia, it’s like hating necrophiliacs for fucking the dead. Indeed. If I ever find the pervert lurking around my sister’s place, I’ll pummel him into bloody meat and feed his eyes to the kitten. But I’ll be indifferent about it (think of a kung-fu movie showdown scene set to Debussy).
Well, I have to concentrate my thinking on the kitten now. What do I do with him? I really do not have the time to keep him, because he needs to go to the vet all the time. We can’t give him away in this condition… Today I spoke to the vet, and we discussed euthanasia as an option… But the cat is doing so much better than when we found him! The problem is, the eye infection could spread to his brain at any time, which the vet did not discuss in great detail, but I suspect will end much like Alzheimer’s. I guess I am in a moral paradox between putting Yoda out of his misery quickly, or letting him live a possibly painful existence. Shit. Well, for the meantime we will be thinking about this… No reason to rush at this point. The vet says that if the busted eyeball seals itself and stops leaking vitreous humor, the cat will have a better chance of survival. Shit, even if he suevives I’m gonna have to leave him in Japan when I leave in a year or so… I’ll have saved him only to abandon him again. Maybe at that time somebody will take him, though. Goddamn what am I thinking? I’m not even supposed to have him in my house now… BOY, LIFE REALLY SUCKS!
I hold the life of a kitten in my hands. Ultimately, it is my decision. But I would appreciate any guidance or feedback you have for me in the comments below. Is it better to put him down humanely, or give him a chance at life, however painful it may be?

He lives!

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.

Nary a Chance

I am sitting in the dark well aware that I have brought this upon myself and yet cursing fate for having been put in this position again. I haven’t slept because someone is keeping me awake:
Let’s not kid anybody, this is one of the un-cutest kittens I have ever seen. Skanky, weak, and noisy. My sister and I fished him out of a rain gutter last night, where he nearly drowned in the torrent of rainwater flowing down the hill. He was shivering and weak with exhaustion. I wish I could be more positive but I don’t know if he’s old enough to make it without his mother, and he mewls when I let him go… So if he dies tonight, he will die in my arms and he will not die alone.
I made a joke about stir-frying a kitten the other day because it was a make believe kitten and anybody who knows me knows I really love animals and say that shit without meaning it. But I still feel guilty for writing those words now that I hold this sick ball of fur against my chest.
So now I am sitting in the dark fantasizing about somehow finding out who threw this kitten in the gutter and doing painful things to them. And I can honestly say, after having seen this kitten half-drowned, that I would enjoy it to some extent.
The way that Japanese treat their pets, overall, is fucking wrong. Knowledge is pitifully low, yet the numbers of pet owners seems to be ever-increasing. YO. ASSHOLES. IT IS FUCKING WRONG TO THROW UNWANTED PETS IN THE GUTTERS. SPAY AND NEUTER, SPAY AND NEUTER, WORDS TO LIVE BY, SPAY AND NEUTER.