Thursday, February 7, 2013

Will Miss #12 - the kitler at the local liquor store (reflection)

One of the things I infrequently mentioned about returning to life in the U.S. was that I would be looking forward to being in a situation in which we could, in good conscience, have a cat. Though we stayed in Japan for 23 years, we were never sure when we'd leave. Though, had we gotten a cat the minute we arrived, it would have died long before we left, we never planned to stay that long. Also, it would have violated our rental agreement and getting a place that accepted pets was not a trivial matter.

During our time in Japan, we enjoyed cats vicariously, and none so much as the kitler (a cat whose coloring makes it appear to have a mustache like Hitler's/Chaplan's) at the local liquor store. While many neighborhood cats were skittish, this one was docile and easy to access. It was also beautiful.

Now that we're in the U.S., we still don't have a cat even though our apartment permits it. We're still in an unstable situation and don't know where we will move or live in the future so, once more, being responsible means we don't have a pet. We are finding that cats are just as idiosyncratic here as they were in Japan and that it's hard to find a friendly cat that tolerates (let alone welcomes) attention from random strangers who are lonely for feline companionship.

Having a nice cat in one location that you could just go to and pet any time you wanted to was a small treat and something which I still can say I miss about life in Japan.


  1. I have exactly the same issue - my two year stay abroad has turned into 6 1/2, and while there is an intention to return home, it's still very much in the 'some day' category, so no cat for us. And the neighbourhood cats run when they spot me. Food doesn't even entice them to come closer.

    I've been excitedly hoping that London will get a Cat Cafe - modelled on the successful ones in Japan - so I can vicariously love me some purr monsters. Here's a link to the funding campaign to get it off the ground, just in case you have UK readers who would be as interested in seeing it happen as I am:

    1. Our landlord chastised us for feeding the neighborhood cats. He didn't want us to encourage them to stick around the building. :-(

      I know it's difficult not to get what you want, but it really is more responsible not to take on a pet if you can't be certain of its future. Ironically, one of my friends works in animal rescue, and when we talk about wanting a cat, but not getting one, she says we should go ahead and do it. At the same time, she has complained bitterly about people who have their pets for 7 years or something and then have to get rid of them (or "threaten" to have them put to sleep if they can't). It seems contradictory to encourage cautious people in uncertain circumstances to get a cat, but then get angry when those who did just that have to get rid of their pets!

      Thanks for you comment!

  2. This reminds me of an excerpt from Terry Pratchett's Sourcery

    “"I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worth while?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually, "Cats are Nice”

    I have four cats in my tiny studio apartment.

    1. You are so much braver than me! We "babysat" two cats in our tiny studio apartment and it was pretty hard on the cats and us. They walked on our heads all night when we were trying to sleep. They tracked cat litter *everywhere* because it would stick to their paws and just shake off on the floor, sofa, etc. Cats are pretty clean, but it was clear that, in a small space, there was a problem. There was also, of course, the litter box and even though it was covered, it smelled terrible immediately after a deposit was made. There just was no place to put the box out of the way such that we didn't smell it pretty much immediately (I took to cleaning it right away and sealing the poop in bags).

      Beyond that, the cats were young (about a year) and quite active. The small size of the apartment made them feel caged. I felt it was unfair to them to keep them so confined. They'd go to the big front window and meow to get out. We couldn't let them out (as they'd run off or get hit by cars), but I did feel bad about their confinement.

      I often wish I could just says, "screw it, I want a cat so I'll get one," but our catsitting really makes me feel that the time is not right.

  3. Do you have time to volunteer at a local humane society shelter? If you have the resolve not to bring any of them home with you, you may be able to arrange playtime with cats who need a bit of attention while they wait for a family.

  4. I have time, but I can't bear to be around shelters. My husband talked about going to one with an acquaintance to accompany him while he picked out a couple of cats and the very thought brought me to tears. When I was young, my mother occasionally took us to shelters to find pets, and it was so insanely sad that I couldn't bear it. I know this is a bit contradictory as the animals would be less sad and neglected if people played with them, but it just totally emotionally devastates me to be in that environment, especially knowing there are some animals there than no one will ever adopt (and knowing I can't save them) and they will be euthanized. The sense of profound helplessness in the face of seeing those poor animals in small cages is simply unbearable.

    I wish that people would have their pets' reproductive capacity surgically disabled to stop this from happening. My family did, but far too many people are just irresponsible.

  5. My housemate in Japan had two cats. We had a fairly big house for them to run around in but she put nets up at the doors so they couldn't escape. One of them didn't care, the other used to try to get out. It can be unfair on pets to be in an environment like that that goes against their nature.

    Btw I now really want a cat with a moustache!

  6. Hello!Japanese cat heaven
    yanaka ginza
    hirosima onomiti


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