Our feline friends – Breaking Barriers – The Borneo Post – 15 March, 2014

Our feline friends
by Peter Tan. Posted on March 15, 2014, Saturday

ONE sunny afternoon, my wife Wuan found her hiding behind some flower pots in the garden. She had a white kitten with her. We fed them and let them be. They became familiar with us after a few days and graduated to sleeping on the steps just outside the entrance into the house.

The little one would scamper all over the grass and even sneak into the house while the mummy cat, whom we later named Fei Por (fat lady in the Cantonese dialect) watched from a short distance away. The kitten disappeared mysteriously one day later but Fei Por stayed on.

She delivered another litter a few months later. The three kittens were adorable and full of energy. They would play and rest inside the house during the day, and huddled together under the car in the porch with Fei Por at night. One of their cutest antics was to climb onto the roof of a neighbouring house and peek at us from above when we called out to them.

We did not realise that there were dangers to letting the kittens run around the neighbourhood. One was hit by a car. Another disappeared just like that. We named the remaining kitten Patchy for the unique patches on his back. When he was old enough, we had him neutered together with Fei Por. Unfortunately, he succumbed to unknown causes a few weeks later.

Fei Por was heartbroken. So were we as we had grown very fond of him. She would come into the house, search all the nooks and crannies that the kittens liked to hide in and mewed out to them sorrowfully. It was heartrending to see her in such grief. She recovered eventually which was a great relief to us as it was painful for us to see her in that condition.

From then on, we were determined to take better care of her. We sent her for regular check-ups. The vet concluded that she was a mature cat but was not sure how old she was. Whenever we had to be away for several days, we would send her to pet boarding to ensure that she had sufficient food and was taken care of for the duration.

On one occasion when we went to pick her up from boarding, Wuan was enamoured by a little kitten that was put up for adoption there. He was the only kitten out of three that approached her when she went near. He even licked her fingers when she held him up. We took him home with us after he was inoculated and dewormed.

Fei Por took an instant liking to him when Wuan put them together. She started grooming him. Her maternal instincts were obviously still intact. We named him Cheeky for his playfulness and fondness of nipping on our finger and toes. Fei Por became the mother he never had and he in turn became the object of her affections in place of the kittens that she lost a while ago. They have been inseparable since. That was six years ago.

We lost Fei Por last year. She was unwell after we took her back from the boarding place. We thought it was just the difficulty in adjusting in an unfamiliar environment but we were mistaken. She was restless and we let her out. It rained heavily that day. I called out to her but she did not return.

Early the next morning when Wuan was getting ready for work, Cheeky excitedly asked her to follow him. After living with them that long, we understood what they wanted each time they came to us. He led Wuan to the main door. Fei Por was crouched outside. She was soaked, dishevelled and appeared very sickly. When we finally managed to take her to the vet, the prognosis was not good. Still, we kept our hopes up that she could pull through. She did not.

Losing Fei Por was as painful as losing a loved one. She was one of us. She was family. Cheeky was exceptionally docile for the next few weeks, perhaps grieving for her in his own way. Her cremated remains are now kept in an urn that sits in her favourite corner in the living room overlooking the garden that she used to frolic in.

From our bad experience with allowing Fei Por’s kittens to roam freely outside, Cheeky has never gone out of the house unsupervised. The furthest he is allowed is the fringe of our small garden where he would sit contentedly and chew on the fresh grass.

He has the most endearing personality. When he was younger, he liked to sit on my lap or just sleep beside my wheelchair while I was working. He likes to accompany me when I take my afternoon naps by sleeping beside me on the bed. Other times, he would ask for my hand to rub his face on or knead my tummy while purring very loudly. I am mostly home alone on weekdays. His companionship is truly a godsend. And he still nips at our fingers occasionally after all this while.

We now have two other adopted cats living with us. Wuan and I do not believe in buying pets, especially when there are so many strays running around in the streets. Adopted animals can be equally as adorable as bought ones. One animal adopted is one animal saved.

The other two cats have their own endearing characters as well that have kept us entertained to no end. Together, the three of them have injected sparkle with their antics into our otherwise very quiet household.

And as for Fei Por, she is always in our thoughts. We are forever thankful to her for initiating us into this path. Our lives have been abundantly enriched. May she have fun at the Rainbow Bridge with our other animal friends who have gone before and after her.

Comments can reach the writer via columnists@theborneopost.com.

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Fei Por Forever

Fei Por’s remains were cremated and interred in an urn the day after she passed away. We could not bear to have her simply buried in an unmarked grave in an unknown place. Her home is here with us and it is only right that we bring her back with us. Her ashes now sit in one corner of the living room looking out to the garden that she used to frolic.

Fei Por the cat's ashes interred in a urn
Fei Por’s cremated remains interred in a urn with her portrait.

Farewell Fei Por

Fei Por came to us one day in 2007 and had never left since. She had two litters while she was here. Her first was a white kitten we christened Arbie after a cartoon character. He was fluffy and had blue eyes. One day, he just disappeared.

Her second litter had three kittens, Frosty, Patches and Milo. Milo was ran over by a vehicle. Frosty went out and never returned. We had Fei Por and Patches neutered. One day, Wuan found Patches dead just outside the house.

One cat and three kittens
(clockwise) Fei Por with Milo, Frosty and Patches.

It took Fei Por a long time to overcome the grief of losing her kittens. She would call out to them and sniff around the nooks and crannies that they liked to play in. We grieved along with her as we were very fond of the kittens too.

A few months after that, on one of our trips to Ipoh, Wuan was enamoured by a little white kitten that licked her fingers at the vet’s where Fei Por was boarded. Fei Por licked him all over when Wuan put them together. With that tacit approval, we adopted him. Wuan named him Cheeky for his fondness of nipping at our fingers and toes.

Fei Por looked after him like he is one of her own. She groomed him and watched over him all the time. They played together and napped together. In his adulthood, they would groom each other. They were really that close.

Fei Por and Cheeky best of buddies
Fei Por and Cheeky

Fei Por did not like to stay indoors. We let her live outside. In the afternoons, Cheeky would be by the door playing with Fei Por who would be sitting just outside. The few times that she came in, we could see the joy in Cheeky’s antics.

Late last year, Wuan noticed that Fei Por was getting on with age. She let her in the house. Fei Por was perfectly contented and never asked to be let out like she did previously. She spent most of her time sleeping, mostly on the floor of the en suite bathroom.

Our cat Fei Por
Fei Por

Fei Por was not well after we took her back from boarding for the duration we were in Ipoh during the Chinese New Year holidays. She puked a few times but we thought it was just a minor ailment she caught from the other cats or stress she experienced at the boarding place.

She became restless on Thursday and kept climbing onto the window. I asked Wuan to let her out. Unfortunately, it rained very heavily that day. I got worried and kept calling out to her but she did not return. She came back early the next morning as Wuan was getting ready for work. Wuan was in the kitchen when Cheeky went to her and got her to follow him. He lead her to the main door.

Fei Por was crouched outside. Her fur was all bedraggled. She looked tired. We planned to take her to the vet when Wuan got back from work that evening. However, Wuan was tied up in the office and got back very late. We finally managed to take her to the vet on Saturday.

Although the vet said that she was in a very bad shape and may not pull through, we were hopeful that she would. When the vet called at 1.43pm just now to say that she had died, I was devastated. I wept balefully at the loss. When I called Wuan to inform her of the sad new, I could not hold back my emotions and bawled again. I have never been this sad for a long time, not since my mother passed away.

Rest in peace, Fei Por. I am sorry we could not be by your side when you breathed your last. You are family. You will always hold that special place in our hearts. Enjoy your time at the Rainbow Bridge. We shall come for you when our time here is up and we shall cross that bridge together.


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

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