Damian’s Cat

Regina Cano

Photo: Eladio Reyes

HAVANA TIMES — It’s been tied up since it was 35 days old. “Burnet” is what we call it – among other names. It’s a Siamese cat that lives in a small space under the wooden staircase that accesses the barbacoa* of a very small room in a house with many similar rooms on Zanja Street, in Havana.

The cat has developed the aggressiveness of a being forcibly abducted. Even the animal’s supposed owner, who was given the cat by another neighbor that owned the current kitten’s mother until it died, complains about racket.

This homeowner and his wife — who apparently are good people and get along with their peers — are the principal inhabitants of the multi-family house. They like cats, though apparently this is their first one. But they’re constantly surprised and have come to be annoyed by the attacks and fierce displays by the animal, which defends fang and claw the little space it occupies.

Zanja is a noisy street, full of cars, buses, trucks, vans, motorcycles and bicycles, as well as any other vehicle invented there, which from the heaviest to the lightest leave their marks in the pavement and on the walls. It’s a street that’s full of racket for ears not adapted to it.

To the cat’s environment are added the everyday sounds of the neighboring human families crammed into small residential areas…sounds that aren’t cushioned by the thin walls or the pure inventions that limit and enforce its own space.

The cat isn’t even able to extend its legs beyond its little space, other than to go in its liter box (very close by) and to a container of water. Its food is provided punctually and the dish comes and goes.

It suddenly reminded me of a bird enclosed in a cage with a cloth on top.

The animal doesn’t see what happens in the hallway that leads to the front door. It can’t tell where the noises come from, and apparently it’s not used to any of them.

The creature becomes more frightened than its owner, who showed me two scratches from the most recent attack. It has become irritable because of its life circumstances, and because of the will of a human couple.