Oct. 14th, 2010

emiri: (this is a hug icon.)
So much has happened this year that I haven't written about, I wouldn't even know where to start if I were to try and catch up with it all. So instead, have a true story that happened to me last night.

This is a story about a kitten.

Last night around 7 PM, I said to my fellow dormmates, "I don't feel like cooking! Hey, who wants to go to Kappa-zushi?" Kappa-zushi, for the record, is a local sushi train near where I live. It's extremely cheap (around $1 US a plate) and delicious and healthy. So as I'm sure you can imagine, this particular conversation comes up about ... oh, twice a week or so. It's pretty much par for the course. And so we set out, myself and three others, on the twenty minute walk to Kappa-zushi.

However, when we were just five minutes away from the dorm, A THING occurred.

We heard a tiny but insistent, very shrill meow, meow, meow. A stray kitten, about the size that would fit easily in the palm of your hand came running out onto the road to us. Fortunately there were no cars around, so we picked the tiny thing up and headed back in the direction it came from to try to find its' mother, kitten mewling raucously all the way. After a good search, it became evident that the mother had either died or abandoned it; there was no evidence of other cats or other kittens, and no mewling in response to our kitten's. Once we got it under a street light, we realised it definitely wasn't someone's pet. If you know anything about cats at all, there were a few tell-tale signs, namely:

1) It was far too young to be someone's cat; if you've ever owned a kitten before, you know what size they're supposed to be when you get them. This one was definitely not old enough. It was still too young to take solid foods.
2) It was far too scruffy and underfed to be someone's cat, not to mention, we later realised, flea infested. (It's okay, we checked and triple checked ourselves for fleas later and all spent a good long time in the shower afterwards; none were found.)
3) It had lost an eye somehow

Fleas or no fleas, there was no way we could just leave this poor animal on the street to starve or be run over. (It certainly didn't seem to have any reservations about the road.) Of course, since we all live in the dorms, there was no way any of us could keep it ourselves. The dorms have a strict and iron policy about animals: none allowed whatsoever, under any circumstances. You can't even sneak one in; to get into the dorm you have to go through the main foyer which is never empty-- not to mention, the dorm is Japanese style so the walls are impossibly thin-- even if you got the kitten past the main foyer, it'd only be a matter of minutes before someone heard it.

We walked back to the dorm anyway to see if our (Japanese) dorm RAs knew of a vet or shelter nearby we could take it to. They didn't know of a shelter, but they gave us directions to a small vet clinic about a 20 minute walk away. So kitten in tow, we set off.

Luckily for us, the clinic was open until 8pm. (It's almost unheard of for places in Japan except food places to be open late.) We got there at 7:30. The vet looked a little displeased to see a group of four foreigners and a flea-ridden kitten walk in half an hour before he was scheduled to close, but he talked to us anyway. Unfortunately, however, he said they couldn't keep kittens that weren't old enough to eat solid foods, so we'd have to find someone else who could take care of it. He didn't know where a shelter was.

Unfortunately, none of us knew any Japanese people in the area well enough to ring them up and say "Hey, I know it's sudden, but could you take care of a stray kitten?" Pets in Japan are a little bit of an issue, too: a lot of people live in apartment complexes thanks to population density problems, and most apartment complexes in Japan, like our dorm, have a zero-tolerance policy towards pets.

Eventually we bought a small carton of cat milk from the vet, went back home, picked up a large cardboard box from someone's room, got someone else to donate an old sweater they didn't want and another person's plastic saucer, and then trapsed BACK again to the more-trafficked town area near the vet clinic. We didn't know if the kitten would drink the cat milk if it wasn't from a teat, but it was worth a try. So we poured some in the saucer and then set it, the cat and the old sweater inside the big cardboard box and left him there, together with a sign I wrote in Japanese saying:

Hello,
My mother is gone. I'm a baby who can still only drink this special milk.
I'm a stray who was found by foreigners who didn't know what to do with me.
So please take me home with you.
Or maybe call a friend if you know one that can take care of cats.
Or take me to a shelter if you know where one exists.
Thank you ♥


As we walked away, the kitten-- who had become silent as we'd been carrying him around the town in a sweater for the past forty minutes-- started mewling after as and trying to get out of the box to follow us. (We'd made sure it was big enough that it couldn't accidentally escape.) My heart just about broke into a million pieces hearing it cry out like that and having to just walk away, not knowing whether it would live or die, not being able to do anything for it.

Needless to say, we never got to Kappa-zushi.


--


Today after class, I took a detour on my bike. Instead of going straight home, I biked back to the spot we'd left the kitten last night. The box was gone in its entirety. I have no way of knowing for sure what happened, but I hope it's in a better place now.