Kafu is the third African cat I have adopted, but the first that is not going to share a ride to America. The fare is too high these days, so the poor fellow must stay behind. This little kitten was about a month old when he was presented to me as a gift and with the understanding that if I didn’t take him, he would be placed in a sack with his litter mates and thrown into the lake. That’s the way it goes here in Africa and I am too soft-hearted to accept such practices. Matter of fact, the only cats one ever sees around these parts are the feral cats that somehow escaped the bag and drowning torture.
Dogs don’t have it much better, for that matter. It’s rare to see a stray dog and if one appears it is usually appallingly thin and diseased. That said, yesterday I was up country at my adopted parent’s home where they have two dogs; a female and a male. Commonly found, this female had just given birth, but was in pretty good shape for having just done so. Almost all owned canines perform as guard dogs and aren’t pampered in any way. In fact, when they by chance make effort to come around they are poorly received, yelled at, often kicked and shooed away.
As it turns out, this little fellow of mine is just about the most loving kitty I’ve ever known. On the other hand, he could bite your hand off while only engaging in play. He loves feet and enjoys the hearty game of “attack the foot,” despite radical encouragement to stop the behavior. But that’s an African cat and Kafu is really no different than the last one I rescued here in 2009.
That little kitty was named Kasanga and she was found roaming around the hotel where I always live. As all critters here in Africa, she was too frightened to permit me to get close, but after days of offering various foods, she gave in. It’s easy to recall the process of taming her, for it took some time to win her trust. Kafu was different. Actually I wasn’t even in Kampala at the time of his adoption, so he was in for a long car ride from the start. Apparently that was just the right situation to tame the little guy, as he calmed down within the first hour he was with me. However, when we stopped for muchomo (roasted meat on a skewer), he flew at me with every intention of eating the entire skewer…stick and all, despite his lack of anything but needle sharp baby teeth to accommodate his needs.
The third rescue was some time ago in late 1999 after living here for 2 ½ years. Siri was a lovely black cat that I acquired from a police station while giving my statement about a theft. At the time, the solid black kitty belonged to the police sergeant and was kept only for the purpose of catching rats. He offered the emaciated, raggedy little thing to me on a bet, challenging me to try to take him home. He wagered that I would never get him there and he would eventually return to the man on his own. I took the wager, tucked the cat under my arm and headed for our home which was located on an extremely busy and congested road. Much to my surprise…and the policeman…we made it, as Siri never made any attempt whatsoever to escape. He lived with us here in Kampala for the duration, and I shipped him home when we left.
While comparing the three cats, I must say that Siri was the most gentle and devoted to me. Unfortunately, he was stolen a few years after he arrived in America. He was docile and particularly affectionate, loved to go hiking and was always around. Most kitties tend to stray, but Siri never did. Of course, he was neutered and therefore lost his desire to roam. It had not been so prior to that and once while still in Kampala he was lost for some time before he turned up again five months later.
Currently and unfortunately, Kafu has retained his wild nature and can’t quite figure out how not to play so hard. Consequently, I have severely scratched arms and pinpoint holes in both hands from his well-meaning antics. This is not at all good, for it makes it harder than ever to find him a proper home. As I have saturated my tally of friends and acquaintances I have come up with no one to adopt the poor little fellow. Accessing the Mzungu (white), community there is a slim chance that he will be saved by someone who can love him appropriately. The other problem is that I came into Kafu’s life when he wasn’t ready for weaning. As in all such situations, he has imprinted on me and believes I am his mother. No animal, cat or otherwise could show more dedication than Kafu, nonetheless his future looks bleak.
One could certainly argue that Africans can barely afford to feed themselves, so how could they take on a pet? This is only partially true. Many Ugandans have plenty of food and this cat can eat just about everything thrown at him. It’s more about fear than anything because most are seriously afraid of all critters, no matter how affectionate they are.
My quest for a proper home for Kafu continues and time is running out. If I had the money there would be no question about his future. But, as it is, some kind of miracle must take place. This little guy deserves a chance and that chance must include enough love to assure a full life and perhaps assuage my angst. In one week’s time I begin my journey back to America. The power of prayer comes to mind and that is exactly where my rational is set for the duration…until I find his happy home.