For me, it started with a post in a friend’s blog. But it really started with two distressed kittens crying under a bush in Turkey.
My friend Waverley and her family were wrapping up their tour of duty in Istanbul, scheduled to return to Minnesota in June. In April she wrote a blog post titled, The Rule of Three – Cat Version. In it, she explained how her cat family had grown from two to three.
Back in February, a gardener at her Istanbul apartment complex had discovered two kitties, so new their eyes were still closed, underneath some shrubbery. Their mother had apparently abandoned them, and they were desperately hungry.Stray felines are a prominent feature of life in Istanbul. The climate is mild enough that they can survive outside year-round, and a plethora of climbing places and concealing vegetation provide the perfect habitat. Turks leave bowls of food and water out for the cats, so most appear adequately fed.
Mustafa Bey, the guard at Waverley’s complex, took the two kittens into the small apartment he occupies in the building’s basement. He warmed them back to life and began feeding them milk from an eyedropper. Other guards pitched in and the kittens survived.The female kitty was soon adopted by a family living nearby. The male became Mustafa’s pet, and he continued to raise it by hand, keeping it by his side nearly all the time. But then the owners of the complex decided that a security guard should not be spending time caring for a kitten. They informed Mustafa that he needed to find a home for the little guy, and he asked Waverley, who had already taken in two street cats. She agreed, and started calling him Tiny Cat.
I commented on Waverley’s post, remarking that cats were also on my mind. Sankar and I were thinking of replacing our tabby, who had gone out one spring evening three years ago and never come back. Waverley wrote back: “If you’re serious about wanting Tiny Cat, I will talk to Ray and kids about it. Honestly, for me, it would be great.”
The next day I went to Waverley’s house and picked him up. Five months old, he was thin and leggy, with interesting black and gray stripes running down his back and enormous green eyes. We decided to call him Sultan.
Now, a month later, Sultan is starting to fill out. He seems to like his new home. He eats heartily and loves to commandeer the top of the family room couch or the flower pot on the upstairs deck. His favorite toys are two ninety-nine-cent stuffed mice from IKEA. The veterinarian was happy to add Sultan’s exotic new name to his list of patients.
Sultan has exceptional people skills. He is curious about everyone who visits, and he makes friends quickly. Because he is likely from a long line of street cats, Sultan is strong, smart, and more than a little bit stubborn. These characteristics seem Turkish, and help connect us to our favorite foreign country.Every day I say thanks for the tender way Mustafa Bey cared for Sultan. And last week Waverley and three of her children paid us–and Sultan–a visit. It was a happy reunion. Thank you Waverley, for delivering Sultan to us!