HAVANA TIMES – I’ve recently had a special guest at home.
Her owner named her Princesa, however, she practically lives out on the street.
Her beauty and charisma have suffered the hardships of time, abuse from male cats, repetitive pregnancies and births. Her litters are now on the street and are at risk of suffering the abuse of children, parasites, malnourishment…
I found one of her young kittens convulsing in a garden. Not even the vet who saw to him thought that he would make it, but he did. I called him Jean Dandelion because he was as soft as a wild Dandelion flower. His fur was soft and he had a calm gaze, his receptiveness to affection.
He lived with me for two years, until long-term physical damage because of those convulsions appeared. In spite of my instinctive fear of losing him, of his absence, I asked for him to go before he became handicapped. And that’s what happened, he left us last December.
Fate has capriciously brought his mother, Princesa, to me, after her owner finally allowed me to get her hysterectomy done.
She reminds me a lot of Jean Dandelion as she runs around my home with her soft pacing and feet. I know that when I give her back, I will have to say two goodbyes.
I’m overwhelmed by conflicted emotions: joy knowing that sterility will protect her life, sadness that this mark, her strange softness, one-off sponge-like fur, her extraordinary serene gaze, has been cut away forever. This feline security that seduces us so, this autonomy and distance that will always remain a mystery to human beings.
Used to doing whatever she pleases, she feels like a captive in my home. I asked her owner to come and see her, that the surgery plus a new environment could be an overly violent experience for her. She seemed to understand, but she hasn’t come.
In the seven days of recovery, Princesa can’t be on the floor, climb, run about… She sniffs foors anxiously, knowing that the street lies behind them, the world.
It makes me sad to see her go to the balcony and see the huge fall that separates her from freedom. It makes me sad that she doesn’t even have the consolation of seeing her owner (a questionable label with respect to a living being and much less when applied to a feline. Even more questionable if you take into account how irresponsible this ‘owner’ has been).
I caress her and she reacts under my fingers just like Jean Dandelion used to. And I question the poor shelter we give these beings who are ripped from their wild habitats to be brought to these dirty cities, to these concrete labyrinths where the only thing we have guaranteed and in ample supply are indifference or cruelty.
And, I take solace in being a part of this (still) small difference: Cubans who refuse to accept impotence as our only alternative.
Those of us who fight so that animals on the island have an Animal Protection Act that protects them from atrocities such as zoosadism.
Those of us who want to be the wheels of change and make Cuba a less hostile place for everyone, including creatures that depend on us and give us affection in the infinite and convincing ways that came before words.