“A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden.” ~Robert Southey
I love cats. And it’s just not that like “there, I said it…” as I had over my man-card to the manly authorities. I state it proudly and openly. And on my diving excursion to Truk Lagoon earlier this year, I meet a rosebud of a kitten which I came to affectionately call Vienna.
I don’t have many pictures of this little boy cat. He didn’t pose well, struggling as he was to just survive. But he was a looker. Obviously too lean due to a restricted diet, he had a very long snout on a very triangular head, making him appear much more “wild” than the average domesticated short-hair. And he was part of a pack of three or four strays that seem to inhabit the Blue Lagoon Resort, the “resort” (I use that word loosely) where we were staying before and after our liveaboard scuba diving cruise aboard the dive boat Odyssey.
I’m a sucker for cats, wherever I go. I’ve made many cat friends over the years, and in many countries – most places I’ve spent any amount of time, in fact. This skinny boy cat scurrying about the resort caught my attention. And making my patented “pssssst-psssst” cat-call (which works pretty much every time), this little boy of about 4-6 months came trotting up like a best friend. Unshyly rubbing my leg and looking up to bellow a meow too voluminous for his body, I immediately knew he’d be my feline friend for my stay.
Knowing he was hungry, I started to brainstorm about how to help this little guy out. Taking food from our normal meals taken at the resort’s only restaurant was easy, but that was hours away (the cats actually would congregate around dinner time in the area). So instead, I headed to the small shop the resort had where various souvenirs and snacks were sold, nothing really to suite a cat’s taste, or a kitten’s nutritional needs.
Then I noticed the cans and cans and cans of Vienna Sausage in the glass display case found at the cashier’s. PURRR-FECT I thought, right?!
I’m not sure what’s in those tiny little minced-meat formed tubes of soft flesh (or muscle, or fat, or various animal parts unmentioned!), but I know that my ex-wife fed them to my son when he was a little toddler and could handle his own finger food. Oddly enough, I don’t remember my daughter getting any as a child – maybe a reflection of our increased socioeconomic status perhaps…. Me, well, I’m sure I’ve tasted them(??), but I sure don’t remember that taste-test. And before you say, “…how can you feed something to your child that you won’t eat,” I ask how many dads out there have actually tasted all those mushy, slimly and smelly baby foods we gleefully shovel down our offspring’s throats?!
Hence this kitten’s newfound name. Of course he loved the sausages. And he loved me for the chance to love those sausages. Literally. After filling his belly with a can (or two) of that fatty, moist goodness, he would be ready for a nap after expressing his thanks as only a cat can. And nap we did together – in the resorts various hammocks found along the beaches of the property. And once I was sure he was relatively clean from parasites (definitely no fleas or ticks at least), he was invited into the room with me.
Vienna would purr and purr, and when I would stop rubbing him, he would bat at my hand with his head, a cat’s demand for more. But only for a few minutes, because then he was crashed into his cat nap. I’m sure the dual security of having had a full meal AND a human to cling with made for some much-needed deep, restful sleep. I’ve had many cats in my life, and I have two right now. But I’ll tell you that Vienna was more trusting, more loving and more affectionate than most – including those two at home right now (hear that, Cleo and Naka??). I will forever be amazed at how much peace and tranquility can come from the sound of a cat’s simple purr as their warm, soft fur brushes up against your skin. It was the perfect counterpoint to the week’s focus on war, destruction and death which any trip to diving the WWII wrecks of Truk Lagoon involves. And I remain convinced that some of the very best, irrefutable proof of a god is found in the dedicated and unconditional love of an animal….
I said my hard and saddened goodbyes to Vienna when it was time to leave, and I swear that if I could have in any easy fashion, I would’ve taken him home with me. From Chuuk (part of the Federated States of Micronesia), it is, however, a 3-plane-ride trip home, including an overnight stay in Guam, ending up in Japan, which has some of the strictest animal importation rules I’ve ever dealt with. It simply was not possible, and sadly so.
But I was also able to smile, having had the opportunity of knowing this small creature, if only for a very little time. I only hope that Vienna was able to continue to thrive living on the grounds and gardens of the Blue Lagoon Resort in Chuuk. If you happen to visit BLR, be on the lookout for a sleek, wildish but friendly grey male short-haired tabby of sorts, frisky and playful, and with a purr to melt your heart. If you do see him, do me a favor and buy a can of Vienna Sausages from the shop and leave them out for him. He’ll be your BFF, and perhaps, just perhaps, he’ll remember me and the short time we had together.