22nd May, 2019

Written by Teresa Pentz

Professional photography by Kym Clayton Photography

Capetonians Against Animal Abuse goes above and beyond for cats who have been failed by humans. My beautiful Calypso is a case in point.

She was trapped, along with other feral cats, along Voortrekker Road in a pretty unpleasant alleyway. Back at the vet, the cats were tested and prepped for sterilisation. This is when it was discovered that the Siamese-X-looking cat was pregnant but that the kittens had died in-vitro. She also had an abscess on her face and toxins present in her body, which didn’t make for a good prognosis.

In surgery, the vet removed the decaying kittens, sterilised the mom, treated the abscess and administered medication. Her ear was clipped, and the plan was to return her to the other cats in the colony, should she survive. During her recovery, it was discovered that she wasn’t completely feral, so she was earmarked for rehoming.

Sura called to tell me about this poor feline: “You love Siamese cats; I have one, and you must come and see her.”

I didn’t want another cat at that point, but Sura knew how to tug at my heart strings by sending me a video of a totally distraught cat meowing with the caption: “She is not coping at the rescue centre and is too stressed”. That was that for me – I promised I’d come and have a look but most likely wouldn’t take her.

We went to see her, and the minute I saw her terrible state, my heart broke. As we approached the cage, she came forward and started telling us all about how she wanted out. There were tiny kittens in a cage opposite hers, and their constant meowing was clearly upsetting her.

On picking her up, she curled her body in fear under my chin and didn’t move; it was like holding a corpse. She didn’t smell good and was thin and dirty. Her nose was healing from the abscess and she looked anything but a regal Siamese. I handed her to my son, who loves cats about as much as I do, and right there he said, “Mom, we can’t leave her here. We have to take her home.” And that’s how we adopted Calypso.

We named her “Calypso” because she looked like a tattered pirate. Her face all scarred, her ear clipped for feral release, and the tip of her tail missing in who knows what horrible way. For the next three months, she leopard-crawled through the house. We placed Feliway diffusers in every room in the hopes that she’d relax.

Her fear fading a little bit every week, she’d sit at my bedroom doorway and look down the passage at us in the lounge, wanting to be with us but fearing the walk. Some days she’d make it most of the way and then run back two inches from the ground at breakneck speed. I realised this crouched posture must have been the way she’d lived for a long time, seeking safety in a low, huddled way. She hid away in my closet most of the time, and so I made a bed for her there with water and food and a litter box.

Slowly, we moved the litter box out, followed by the food, encouraging her to come and eat with her other two feline siblings. Even the dogs were gentle and gave her the space she needed. This pirate was starting to shed her tatty exterior, and people cannot believe the cat that emerged was the same one from three months earlier. Before our eyes the fluffiest cat appeared.

Calypso turned out to be a Balinese or Ragdoll and had morphed into the fluffy and most lovable, talkative cat. The day she started playing with toys we were overjoyed, as we knew she was becoming a relaxed and happy cat. She’d made her spot in the hierarchy of the pack and even tolerated the two rescue rabbits. After the loss of one of the older cats, we returned to CAAA and a new kitten joined the crew. Calypso was not too sure of this little intruder, but they now get along fine, albeit that little Hunter plays a bit rough for her delicate liking, and she then has to let him know who’s boss.

We don’t really know how old she is and can only guess around six or seven years – perhaps older. She still has a fear of new people that visit, and I don’t think that will ever change. She does, however, have a fun personality, and all she wants is love and a lap to lie on. Her two cat brothers, both also rescues, respect her and she keeps them in line.

Our trio of adoptees give us such pleasure and unconditional love. Our home is truly blessed to have them as part of our family.