Meeting Wilai,

To be honest, I never really understood the addiction that cat owners had with their furry pets. Or why it seemed cat owners had this spiritual connection and mutual understanding with each other. Well to be fair, of course I didn’t, I wasn’t a cat owner.

After 18 years of being that crazy girl who always wanted a cat but had a father who claimed he was allergic, my really intense need for owning one had to be subdued for situations sake. So over the years of my life, I accepted defeat and told myself I didn’t need a cat. But alas, of course when I finally managed to land one, slowly through this experience of taking care of Wilai and discovering her personality- something forgotten within me was reawakened and ignited. And now I realise why I spent so much of my life being cat crazy. They are totally worth all the hype. Through mothering Wilai, I’m surprising learning, yes a good deal about cats, but also of myself and the world. How things always add up in a funny way, eh?

I don’t think I ever completely comprehended that something that wasn’t a human could have such a character and a unique personality of its own. When I met you Wilai, you were so timid, shy, scared and in your own world. You always seemed well mannered which was something I immediately liked about you, but that was just about it. You didn’t seem like anything more than that, and I wondered even for a split moment why I had self appointed myself with extra chores when I bought you home for the first time. Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel this instantaneous affection or love towards you as I always thought I would when I got my first cat.

But then, slowly as the days went by, as you continued to scurry to any dark place to ease your nerves and try to escape every time I held you for too long – little by little I watched you evolve. You went crazy at one point as you became more and more comfortable with me, all this sudden energy and zeal you would only show to me (and escape once more when you met another stranger) really intrigued me. I remember just thinking, wow – now this is getting interesting. I seriously think you have split personality, because now you are like an entirely different person. I mean cat. Kitten actually – you’re not a year old yet. Anyways, now you are my baby, I feel like a tough love but secretly very soft mother with one hell of a child. When you look up at me with those curious and mischievous emerald eyes of yours, when you decide you want to stomp on my laptop, eat my plant leaves, dig their roots, destroy my fairy lights, crave my attention and touch, growl gently or curl up in my lap, I wonder what goes through that little head of yours. I love when you move your soft, furry lean body against me or when you lick me to mark me as family. I wonder, what did I do to deserve your trusting soul and love? You’re like toothless from how to train your dragon – trusting yet picky, loyal, protective, playful and this massive softy despite being assumed as scary on sight. Your sleek face and beautiful coat reminds me of the legendary dragon, but you have tooth – so my fourth name (after Wilai, Mitai, Meow Meow) for you is tooth-full or Got-tooth for you. Anyways I realise how I totally misread you, and learn once more to never judge a book by it’s cover. Because as I watch you climb, pounce, curl up and purr, I realise how there is always so much more than what appears on the surface. I reflect on my own shortcomings and misjudgment, I reflect on the love and affection that I am capable of feeling and giving, I reflect on the complexities of beings (human or not) and how we should give things chances. I reflect on the growth of my responsibility and my lack of it for all these years because of the lack of opportunities to express it. I reflect on my ability to care and be accountable for that which is mine and I have understood the process of. I reflect on the power and might of Allah – Al Khaliq, the one who creates animals and all things, and places such depth that that is often misunderstood or overlooked within them. I reflect and wonder how the rest of this experience (it’s only been 3 days) of owning a cat will pan out.

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