The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The poignant tale of a blind Saudi kitten 

...and if that doesn't grab the attention, what will?

The cricket's over, one day early, England won although it was close at times. So I have a free Bank Holiday, and the A's have prevailed upon me to take them to see the Notting Hill Carnival in London. It's like Mardi Gras in New Orleans (perhaps an ill-timed comparison), and with its combination of music, costumes, and sheer fun, is about as distant from Riyadh as possible. Am I being a bad Saudi parent, exposing the young A's to something they will regret never seeing back home?

Anyway, I don't have much time for posting, so I'll just include this sad tale with a happy ending, thanks to reader Shari. As you probably know, we do have cats as pets in Saudi, but there are also many tribes of feral cats, usually centered round rubbish skips in the neighborhoods or behind restaurants. Skipper, as he is now known, seems to have been a pet kitten that was discovered to be blind, and possibly put out with a feral tribe, in the hope that they might adopt him. Fat chance. Cats are not pack animals like dogs, and the tribes are extended families, not cooperating individuals. Anyway, here's the story.

Skipper, a new cat at Best Friends, may be blind, but he doesn’t seem to have noticed. He’s about the happiest, snuggliest cat you could ever want to meet, and so independent ... he even came here all the way from Saudi Arabia!
Skipper was living in a feral cat colony in Saudi, but he wasn’t really wild. He seemed to be a pet that someone had dropped off into the group, perhaps thinking they would be friends for him. But the colony caregiver, Nancy Hashim, saw that he’d been beaten up, and she didn’t think a blind cat was safe on those streets! Since he was friendly, her thoughts wandered to a place as remote as Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – about as far from Saudi Arabia as you can get! Was there any chance they’d take a blind cat from the Middle East?
Indeed, she lucked out. Best Friends had a space. And blind or not blind, Skipper was welcome to fly over. Talk about a worldly cat!
Since his arrival at Best Friends, Skipper has wooed the staff with his hugs and cuddles. Far from seeming handicapped, Skipper walks around with confidence, sensing the presence of objects and people. He’s handsome and exotic-looking, and seeking a good home! In the meantime, we welcome him to the good old U S of A.
Watching Skipper play with this toy feather, you'd hardly think he was blind! It's almost impossible to tell sometimes.....

And the latest update:

Skipper was a blind, friendly kitty living in a feral cat colony in Saudi Arabia when he was rescued and flown to Best Friends. This charismatic young cat charmed the socks off of the staff and visitors alike. Now, he's a spoiled cat living in Salem, Oregon with Jill and Jaco Haley. "Skipper was the friendliest cat we met at Best Friends," Jill said.
Jaco said they are taking Skipper to the vet soon to talk about the possibility of a corneal transplant which might give him sight. "It’s going to cost a couple of thousand or so but I can either keep that money in the retirement fund or spend it on him, and Skipper is a worthwhile investment," Jaco said.

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