Mocha
January 16, 2014



Mocha left us this morning. She was five, seven, nine... nobody knows. She was already an adult when we found her with her four kittens in an empty shop-house two years ago.

Her family was the first we’ve ever rescued. She was aimlessly looking for food to feed her young and this being an urban area, they were surrounded by concrete. I placed a few slabs of wet food and left, hoping that it would suffice until someone takes them home.

But I was probably lying to myself. I couldn’t get my mind off them on the drive home and barely settled for the next hour. The thought of the family being threatened by bigger animals was one thing. I feared for the worst if they fall into the hands of ill-intentioned humans.

I dragged my wife back to the shop-house with an empty box and brought them home. At least the worst they’d encounter in our backyard was me hanging the laundry in a sarong (only).

Mocha raised her litter well. Everyone got ample nursing time, groomed thoroughly, and received a good smack whenever they misbehaved. Despite being fed three times a day -- kittens eat like racehorses -- she still went out to hunt for the family.

Her haul mainly consisted of chicken bones. On luckier days, she’d get a mashed potatoes container, with some gravy left inside. They usually ignore the gathered feast whenever we bring actual food.

Two of her kittens were later adopted and Mocha moved in with us together with her other two kittens. The master of the house, our first cat Zalo wasn’t too pleased with this development but slowly warmed up to them; although he demanded access to our room be reserved for him only. You can only oblige.

Mocha grew fat over the years. Which I was very pleased with. She wasn’t obese, but round enough to be mistaken for a bunny rabbit. I was just happy to see her grow healthily after all the rough times she must have had out there. With rescue animals, many caregivers can attest to the novel contentment in seeing a street cat or dog finally snoring on a couch at home.

She had this habit of scratching on the kitchen cabinet whenever we’re serving food. The rest would just follow wherever the can of food goes but Mocha had trouble containing her excitement and has to date left scratch-marks of no return in the kitchen. Maybe it was something that she wanted to leave us with.

 She liked to watch football too, albeit constantly in fear of getting squeezed by me if our team scores, or getting screamed at if we miss a sitter. But over time she learned to retreat or scatter away when I’m starting to walk around grinding my teeth.

We first noticed something was wrong when she refused food about two weeks ago. And she was breathing fast. Never a good sign.

We brought her to the vet and she was put in the oxygen chamber and when there’s only one unit of whatever you are attached to at the hospital, and the equipment is rarely used, you know it won’t be pretty.

Her x-ray showed a blurry mass blocking the view to her heart and lungs. An ultrasound later, and it was confirmed that a tumor had already grown big enough to block her breathing passage -- the harsh consequence of feline leukemia.

I’ve probably drained all the tears left in me at this point of writing. I’ve never experienced the death of a pet before. I’m relatively new to the whole thing. Living with four cats however, I knew the day would come soon. Although I never wanted “soon” to ever come.

But there was a sense of relief to see Mocha finally free of her misery. I was practically bawling in the middle of the treatment room this morning as the nurses ceaselessly tried to comfort me.

A part of me was swamped with sadness but the other part wanted to thank them for taking care of her. This nasty blend of two extremes allowed me to utter no more than a few unfathomable words in between the sobs.

Mocha taught me the undying love that parents have for their children. I saw it in the way she’d always put her offspring’s needs first, even out there in the streets, where food is scarce and the weather is unpredictable. Even at home, she would let the young ones eat first.

I can’t be more grateful that Mocha was as a part of our family. She had shown me the ropes in parenting as I prepare myself to become a parent this year. And taking care of her taught me about the uncertainties in life and the perseverance required in overcoming the worst.

I think animals are a test from God to see how we fare in taking care of each other, as His creatures on Earth. Some people inspire you to become a better person while animals, well I guess they make you want to become a better human.

Sweet dreams, Mocha. We will always love you.



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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

About
  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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