The Mark of the Jandal

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Bryan and I are sitting down to breakfast when we hear this rather meek kitten outside. At first we think our neighbors kitten has escaped, and we go outside to collect it. While they look similar, this is definitely not our neighbors cat. It has a gimpy rear leg, and is clearly starving.

It's ironic that many of Darwins observations came from an island in the South Pacific, and if anyone has a chance I'd encourage them to read Sex Lives of Cannibals. While the entire book is interesting, in this context I'm referring more specifically the part about the dogs of Kiribati which I think extrapolates well to both dogs and cats in Samoa. I think its a bit underwhelming to say that island life is less than ideal for animals that require large amounts of protein in their diet. As a result, many of the carnivores here lie on the verge of starvation, and the competition for protein can quite literally lead to a dog eat dog situation. The resulting animals are also the most robust.

So when this pathetic kitten starving and damaged arrived on my doorstep my first thought was to kill it. Unless someone is willing to step in and make up the balance of its energy deficit, that will be its eventual fate in the next week. Fortunately for this kitten, the Peace Corps is full of people who tend to anthropomorphize and get all emotional when they see a starving kitten. So my second thought was to keep the cat alive through the Christmas holiday, present it to some volunteers and tell them to take it or I'm going to snap its neck.

The cat could obviously smell our breakfast and quickly came in when I opened the door -- as quickly as a starving kitten with three fully functional legs can. Our cat Griselda, seemed to object to the little visitor. She began to grumble and hiss a bit. I assumed she was just laying down the law: "this is my house, watch yourself, etc.", something along those lines. Griselda clearly has the advantages: ten times the weight, she is healthy, flea collar, the entire place smells like her, etc. Well the kitten was, as I assume many animals who are starving to death are, undeterred. The kitten took a step forward, Griselda hissed one last time, her hair flared up, and she ran away.

In that moment Griselda redefined pathetic. This is the point where it is obvious we treat her too well. To protect Griseldas delicate self esteem, and to prevent the kitten from giving her any diseases she might have, we took the kitten outside to our shed and gave her some food. She's safe until after Christmas unless there is someone out there who wants to sponsor a cat: For just as little as a quarter a day, you too can provide this club footed cat with the life saving food and flea collars it needs to survive:


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