Goose has been a bit different from the start. Unlike most of the cats in Malakal that have a very healthy fear of humans, Goose made his way to us without coercion when he was no bigger than the palm of my hand. He is playful and sweet; good combinations for making a fabulous “cat-dog”, not so good for his well-being in the great outdoors.
Goose is a vocal one. It’s how we found him in the first place. We heard his incessant crying from the church compound next door from our house. We simply followed the sound of his voice. He stalks us at dinner time and loudly broadcasts his desire to help us eat the meat we cook. (He loves Ethiopian food!) He announces his presence whenever he enters a room and constantly “talks” to himself even when no one else is around.
For his rabies vaccine we transported him in a black computer bag to the UN Veterinarian office. His mewing, complaining and caterwauling notified every passerby that yes, indeed these two crazy ‘kawajas’ were carrying an uncooperative, unhappy cat as they walked down the road. This was the first of many trips inside our makeshift cat carrier and he hasn’t warmed to it yet!
We tried teaching him to wrestle and play. He seemed on the right track as he quickly took to stalking any little thing that moved, including our toes. He rough houses with other stray kittens that make their way into our yard and viciously attacks the swarms of grasshoppers.
He even tasted a frog before realizing that they didn’t go down too well, or rather they come back up…
He progressed to full-sized Southern Sudanese lizards, wrestling and flinging them around. Just the other day he got a taste of their fury. During one of his attacks the lizard fought back, either by excreting some sort of poison or by biting the side of Goose’s face. Other than a little yelp Goose didn’t seem to mind but it left a hairless patch of skin and a scab; a semi-permanent “beauty mark.”
Unfortunately though, he is not the only cat with access to our compound. We continually chase these other cats away but usually not before Goose receives some sort of beating. He is too sweet natured to defend himself. Up till now he has stayed within our fence. We have been able to offer some protection but this week he got too adventurous. He left our compound in the night and didn’t return for a full day. We still aren’t sure how he managed to limp his way back as his hind legs were swollen, bloody and torn.
So once again we packed him up, except this time in a box, and carted him to the veterinarian’s office. Once again we were a source of amusement for the Sudanese on an otherwise ordinary, boring day of tending to medical problems of cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys. Once again Goose, proving how low his pain tolerance is, scratched, clawed and bit as they injected him with pain killers and antibiotics. Nevertheless once again Goose proved how resilient he is by bouncing back to his cuddly, sweet self within hours.