I love cats. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would say that my love for cats is a 10.
I now have a kitten. Its name is Diego. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would say that my love for Diego is a 10.5.
II. Cat Names
It's important for cats to have good namesakes. Diego's full name is Diego Martín Shakespeare.
- "Diego" is after Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist. (It has been pointed out to me that Diego Rivera had some notable personal shortcomings, i.e. he may have been quite the womanizer. Nevertheless, I think it's okay to name my cat after him since a) cats aren't monogamous anyway, and b) my kitty will soon be castrated.) Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo both lived in the Mexico City neighborhood where I lived for five months in 2010.
- "Martín" is originally after Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader.
- ¨Martín" may also be after señor Martín, the doorkeeper at my school. Señor Martín is an older gentleman and has worked at my school for decades. He is very gentle and kind, and has been a big supporter of my cat obsession (telling me where I can find cats around the school, etc.).
- "Shakespeare" is after the one and only William Shakespeare.
- Diego's nickname is "Dizzy," after Dizzy Gillespie, the jazz trumpet player.
III. Acquisition of Cat
Diego is the offspring of Nala, who is the cat of the host family of another Volunteer, Javi. My fellow Volunteers Emily and Kendra picked out Diego for me as a surprise, with the idea that I would adopt Diego and bring him to my barrio.
However, the day that Kendra and I went to get Diego, we found that Javi's host family was not home. The house was locked. So it is possible that Kendra and I spent about 45 minutes trying to lure the kitten to jump out of the open window. Outrageous? Maybe. But the neighbors didn't seem to mind two foreigners apparently breaking into the house. Perhaps they saw that our intentions were good.
After we had exhausted just about every option (mostly variations on luring the kittens with cat food and "fishing" them out through the window), I was nearly ready to break the window, steal the kitten, and leave some money on the table. Fortunately, Javi's host grandpa showed up just at that moment. And you know, he didn't seem that concerned that we were basically robbing a cat from his house either. He opened the door, let us in, and watched as I took Diego in a cardboard box to the taxi that would take us home.
IV. Cat and Host Family
Living with a host family is not an easy thing. I recently moved to a new host family, and I was pretty sure that the family would be dead set against a cat. Colombians, in general, do not favor cats as house pets. And neither cats nor dogs in Colombia are treated like cats and dogs in the United States--there is much less doting on pets, as animals are considered primarily outside creatures.
And yet...my host family said yes! So now Diego lives with me. He has a little bowl for water and a little bowl for cat food in my room. I also made him a litter box, which is really a large plastic under-the-bed storage box (without the lid), filled with sand that I stole from the neighborhood soccer field.
For the first week of Diego's and my residence in this house, I kept Diego mostly locked in my room--partly because he was just a little kitten, still learning that I was his human, and partly because I wasn't sure that my host family would like him roaming around. But recently I've started letting him out in the kitchen and living room more...
V. Cat and Refrigerator
...which leads me to the story of Diego and the refrigerator. Yesterday, for the first time, I left Diego out in the main part of the house instead of locking him in my room while I went out. I told my host family just to lock him in my room if he caused any trouble.
When I came home in the evening, my host family revealed that they had accidentally shut Diego in the refrigerator.
I like to believe that this is evidence that Diego is a very clever cat (rather than a very stupid cat). He merely sought the coolest place in the house, and, finding that he fit inside, went for it.
He seems to have survived pretty well.
There will almost undoubtedly be more cat stories and photos in the future. Stay tuned.