Saturday, March 29, 2014


I am still holding my 6A short (and yes sitting on substantial paper loss) and not looking to close it just yet.
I first saw 2-month old Albertina on 24th Feb, the day she was flown in from Australia,    also the day that Alberto was scheduled to be operated on at 12 noon.  D and I had driven Alberto from Dr Nathan's clinic to the specialist's clinic at 9am and was getting some cat canned food nearby while waiting for Alberto to come out of surgery.

Unlike Dr Nathan, who always allowed me to stay with Alberto and Keisha from clinic open to clinic close whenever they were hospitalized, the vet operating on Alberto didn't think it was a good idea for me to be with Alberto. 

It was very hard for me to leave Alberto - he had had his head buried in my arms, refusing to be taken away. When the vet brought out his carrier, Alberto, thinking it meant he was going home, hurried in. 

I can never forget that the last thing I did to Alberto was betray him. That was the last time I saw Alberto. Even though we hung around the vicinity, checking back in every few hours until the surgery was over at 9pm, the clinic did not allow me to see him afterall. It took me 2 days to begin to hate the vet surgeon with a vengeance for stopping me from staying with Alberto to the end. He hadn't the right.

Outside the operation room, I was told that although the surgery was a success and Alberto was comfortable, he was still in critical condition. 

Prior to the surgery, the renowned vet surgeon had claimed that Alberto was one of the oldest cat sent to him for a procedure that delicate, and warned that because of Alberto's age, he might not survive the surgery. I chose surgery still, over the only other alternative, which was to watch Alberto die a painful death within weeks.

At 8am the following morning, the surgeon called to deliver bad news. I rushed to the washroom to throw up. D came in shortly after, sat next to me, and cried. I told him we had to get to the pet shop where we met Albertina on the day Alberto went into surgery.

Dr Nathan's clinic got news of Alberto's passing from the vet surgeon, and Dr Nathan asked if we wished to see Alberto before he was cremated. D was lost as to where we should be heading. I was set on getting to the pet shop to get Alberto. D called the headquarters and asked for Albertina to be released during quarantine. He was able to talk  the management into making an exception for us, and we were all ready to pick up Albertina that evening of 25th Feb. 

When we arrived at the shop, we were told that Albertina's papers have not arrived from the headquarters, and because they were needed for us to bring Albertina to see a vet within 24 hours of picking her up, she could not be released. We were told to return 4 days later on the 1st of March. Although we insisted, the brunch rep wouldn't take a full payment and would accept only a deposit to hold Albertina for us. 

In the 3 days that followed, I drove from the far east to the west every morning to see Albertina. I would be there when the brunch rep was just getting ready to open for business, and leave only in the early evening when I needed to pick D up from his office near our home. I got to know all the kittens, and by day 1, I was helping to  take  questions from customers who had walked in during lunch when the rep was away, and convinced one to take a kitten.

On day 2, I was told that Albertina's refusal to eat had alarmed the head office. I had noticed too that all the other kittens were eating heartily. I was tempted to tell the rep that Alberto never ate kibbles, but was afraid that it might cause her to report back to the head office about me being a crackpot and that they should not let me have Albertina. Because the kittens were fed canned in the late evening, and Albertina would eat a little of their canned fish (Alberto never ate fish), I decided to keep my mouth shut and wait patiently for 1st March to get Albertina out of there. 

After I whispered to Albertina that she would have to start eating her kibbles if she wanted to go home with me, she went straight to her bowl and cleared half its content. She then came to me and rubbed her face on mine. Then she went back to the bowl to have some more. 

Later that day, I was informed that because Albertina wasn't eating as much as she was expected to, they would have to keep her in the shop beyond 1st March for observation. I asked when she would ultimately be released, and they couldn't give me an answer. 

There was a kitten there with rashes on her front leg and the lady who had paid to take her home had waited a month and was still waiting for the rashes to go away. I wasn't going to let Albertina stay there for another day, let alone a month. So I had the rep call the head office so I could speak with the manager. 

Despite my assuring the manager that I have had 17 to 18 years of experience looking after cats (I had been with Pilot's cat prior to bringing Alberto home), have gotten ready an entire floor with a huge on-suite playroom just for Albertina, and that Albertina was eating when I was there with her, the manager was unmoved. I had read up on the company and was aware they didn't have a very good reputation before but that was  many years back. It was obvious that they had become cautious to avoid being sued. But me being me, I was unable to negotiate over the phone. 

So I drove home. 

And cried. 

In the early morning of day 3, when D was on a conference call with New York, I took the carrier, my credit card and the car and headed for the pet shop. I knew that a relief staff was going to be there that day to cover the brunch rep who had to be at a pet convention. I had planned to pay for the balance of what it cost to bring Albertina home, and then grab Albertina no matter what.

The relief staff gave in after I insisted on making full payment and after I stopped her from calling the brunch rep. Midway into completing the paperwork, the relief staff realized that it was D who had put down the deposit and signed the initial documents. So D would have to make the rest of the payment and complete the  paperwork. The alternative was to re-do the paperwork with my particulars. But I had neglected to bring any picture IDs along in the rush to get there. I had to drive home to get my ID and that was what I did. I told the relief staff I would be back. 

A traffic jam kept me on the road for an hour. 

I stepped into the house to find D on the phone with the relief staff. She had called D after I failed to pick up my phone to inform us that the head office had ordered for Albertina to be kept for observation for as long as they were not comfortable with releasing her and that the relief staff was not allowed to accept the balance of the payment. 

According to D, the relief staff didn't take my trying to force the release of Albertina very well and had asked D to tell his wife to get a hold of herself (along that line... and D was aware of course that I was totally capable of taking Albertina by force if I had to, ONCE I PAID FOR HER IN FULL). 

D's response to the relief staff was that the conversation was above her pay grade (D's exact wording. Yes, that's a very pissed D) and she should get the manager to call.  

When the manager called, D first commended her and her company for their business ethics and their interests in their cats' welfare. Then he proceeded to give her the background of why I must have Albertina - something I had not thought of doing as I didn't think people would listen to something that absurd - and then reasoned with her that Albertina would be much better off with me, someone who doesn't work (again, something that I had failed to mention because I had gotten so used to my non-working status...anyway, what it meant was that my not having declared upfront that I am a hermit had had the manager thinking I was going to leave Albertina in a huge house all by herself) and hence is able to give Albertina undivided attention, than with her staff and her staff's assistant who together had to watch over a dozen kittens. 

To address the manager's true concern, D volunteered to sign an indemnity relieving the company of all responsibilities once Albertina was out of the shop.  The manager was sold. And Albertina was in my arms the following morning as we drove to Dr Nathan's for a check to make sure Albertina didn't have anything that would pass to Ali and Cass. 

I didn't have the heart to leave Albertina on a level while we went about our business on the level above her. Instead, I had her confined to a smaller room within the master bedroom (the studies is at the other end of the family area) and away from her sisters during her induction. 

Long story short, Albertina wanted out of the room to be with Ali and Cass on the first day that she was home (much like Cassandra, who needed no introduction to the house, and nil confinement to adapt to the supposedly strange environment she was brought in to...). She now roams the entire house, is happy as a lark, eats 8 to 10 % her body weight (Albertina is on a pure raw diet) and loves goat's milk.

Cass watches over Al like a mother, and Al loves to head butt her. She always approaches Cass first, then me, for kisses and rubs.

Ali, on the other hand, seemed somewhat conflicted and a tad disturbed. She would lick Al, then growl and swipe at her. 

Al has been very persistent in reacquainting though. She has been enticing Ali to be nice by rubbing her face against Ali's and she would do that multiple times a day. She isn't intimidated by the much bigger Ali who is also feisty and very agile (Ali is a mutant British Shorthair who has no problem jumping nearly 6 feet in one leap). Albertina has taken Ali's animosity in stride and doesn't seem like she's ever going to give up on trying to become Ali's friend. 

To prevent the very tiny Al from falling down the stairs through the gaps between the steps and from the side, I had spent days putting up mesh and fabrics, entire king-size bedsheets and quilts to temporarily cover gaps and create safety nets for Albertina (prior to that, all 3 cats were confined to the studies and the bedroom to stop them from accessing the staircase - and I gather that upset Ali further since she had enjoyed dashing around the level 2 family area in the period after D's mother left and before Al got here). Albertina seemed to know...although it's her habit to follow Cass everywhere Cass goes, she has been staying upstairs in the studies with me after the first day that she was allowed to venture downstairs. It's an Alberto thing - he always knew when I was worried and he would do what he could to not have me worry. 

Like Alberto too, Albertina doesn't get enough sleep. She would kick paper balls around to entertain me whenever I got near her cozy corner. Alberto used to follow me around whenever I was home (and I was home all the time since late 2007), and would sleep only when I slept. 

And Albertina has a distinctive black stripe on her back, right where Alberto's bones had fused together in his later years. Even Gremlins, my little nieces, the adorably evil twins, noticed it.



Cassandra and Albertina




Alessandra and Cassandra
when they were still friends...

Alessandra, Cassandra and Albertina

A video that Gremlins had me check out (D and I totally love it ):

A dark and sad story with a really sad theme song (which I love...D, not so much...):
子連れ狼 (Lone wolf and Cub)

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