Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rags to riches

Monika just after we adopted her. 

It was a dark and stormy night when the little black and white cat – starving hungry – staggered into the arms of a passerby near Vienna Airport at Schwechat year or so ago. The cat had no tag and no name. Well it probably had a name but no one but she knew what it was. The cat was terrified – and pregnant. Terrified of people - but too hungry, tired and frightened to put up a struggle when she was taken in by the stranger.

After a while in a box in a warm room she was taken to meet Biggi who lived not so far away. She had not encountered anyone like Biggi before. Biggi was kind and gentle. She fed her and she found her a nice warm spot to in which to have her babies. Biggi called her Moni. Moni had five kittens and they ran her ragged.

At this time – not so far away – we were engaged in the quest to find two kittens.

When we came from Australia we had brought with us two fine Australian bred cats.  Muffin (who was 16) and her son Bill (who was 15).

Bill had had a hard life. He was a big strong lad and felt the need quite often to go out and beat up the neighborhood cats. He was forever coming home with torn ears and with claws embedded in his body and spent and extraordinary amount of time at the Vets getting bandaged and injected with life-saving drugs.

In the latter years Bill became a bit of a Palooka. He had lost some teeth and had the will to fight but no longer had the ability to win so - he got progressively more badly beaten up. The local lads would laugh – here comes Bill who wants a piece of him today?

We tried to talk to him about this and told him that it was about time he retired and spent his twilight years on the sofa in the sun with his mother Muffin (who entered her twilight years at about age 3). He expressed no interest and refused to be penned inside the back garden. My attempts at a Bill-proof fence were a failure.

So when he arrived in Vienna he was old before his time and just turned up his toes suddenly the first Christmas we were here.

So – we thought – Muffin needs some company – hence the quest for kittens.

Why two kittens?  Because Muffin had two babies, Bilbo and Baggins (many years before the movie was made) and we had watched them growing up together. Unfortunately Baggins was an adventurer and died at a very early age when he was run over by a car. (Which was fitting because his full name was Baggins Ayrton Senna da Silva). 
Getting kittens is not as easy as it sounds because in Vienna there are not so many kittens and they are guarded jealously. We almost got two but were rejected as being unsuitable by the owner because we were (shriek!) Australians and might go back to Australia. Then what would happen to the cats?
We promised that we would not beat them to death with a shovel but would take them with us and love and cherish them forever – but the heartless woman denied us kittens. She was of the firm view that Austrian cats should remain in Austria. It’s apparently a motherland thing.

Rozalin took on the daunting role of Kitten Acquisition Officer and eventually discovered Moni and her babies.
Biggi said that we could have two kittens - but that the mother Moni really needed a nice home and would we be interested.  Well we saw a photo of Moni and immediately said yes.  She looked so thin and sad and unhappy that we just had to give her a home. Of course she had just had five babies and that wouldn’t help anyone in appearance or outlook.
We were vetted and were given the opportunity of an interview with Biggi and a first meeting with Moni. There were some hoops through which we needed to jump before we could possess kittens. But agreeing to take Moni gave us some brownie points with Biggi and we knew that we were in with a shot.
We bought new clothes, had manicures, pedicures and polished Billy Benz to within and inch of his life. We were more nervous that we were on our wedding day in 1938 (has it been that long dear?) Through some local connections I was able to get a Letter Of Recommendation from the Bürgermeister Michael Häupl and a Letter of Credit from Bank Austria.
We passed the test.
At our first meeting with Moni she was too scared to come near me so I lay down on the floor and eventually she came over to see and sniff me. That was the start of an enduring relationship. Biggi was impressed – she had not seen the floor thing done before. We had previously been allocated a specific kitten but Rozalin decided she wanted that one (Balu) and we got a little black one (Sissi).
Taking the cats home was one of the great disasters of all time - and I have blogged about this. Muffin may have been lonely but she certainly did not want these two ghastly creatures for company. It was a scarifying experience – and a cause of great regret - for everyone - for some months.  I will not go into details about Moni’s toilet habits but they would have disgusted an alcoholic orangutan.
Moni became Monika. Full name Monika Rupert Jerilderie.
It took me a long time and lots of effort to gain Monika’s trust and I spent a lot of time on the floor coaxing her to come near me.  It is only in the last six months that she has stopped being so nervous and tense - and reasonably happy to be picked up. Whenever – in fact every time – I sit on the lounge she now jumps up for a rub and a purr. She often jumps up on the desk when I am working on the PC for a rub behind the ears. It’s delicious to see the transformation
 She must’ve had a truly terrible time before she was abandoned.
But from a thin, frightened wreck she has grown into a contented and plump cat.  The only thing that really bothers her now is the vacuum cleaner and Sissi chasing her around the house. Monika is a delightful gentle and lovely cat and is enjoying life immensely.  I send photos to Biggi every six months. 
A plump and contented Monika.
This is truly a rag to riches story, which could only be improved if I could find the bastard who dumped her and burn his nuts off with a blowtorch.


  1. Could you please crush said nuts first please, perhaps with prolonged application of a vice? When you find him of course...

  2. Maalie: Thanks Maalie. High praise indeed.

    angiv: TVM - she is a lovely cat.

    Sandy: Will be delighted to do that.