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My friend Jim adopted a furbaby, her name is Ali – or, better to say: my friend Jim got adopted by Ali, because that’s how it ends up!

I was a dog person all my life. I grew up with rescued dog Capika who meant the world to me; in Prague i lived with Basenji named Bongor who didn’t bark and who had silently shared his destiny with mine; when i was  eighteen i became a companion of a black puddle  nicknamed Dobrica – from “dobro” , good.

It’s from Dobrica that i felt for the first time the proverbial unconditional love – and i do believe hardly any living being is as capable of loving as dog is. And puddles are a kind unto itself – extremely intelligent and impossible to train. I would throw a stick to her – and she would bring it back to me, after much hesitation; if i threw it second time, she would just give me that look: it’s not that you expect me to engage into this meaningless activity, right?

She was the dog love of my life and when at the age of fourteen she passed away, i had sworn not to have companions ever again. The pain is excruciating, it is beyond words, all i wanted was to die with her because i couldn’t imagine going on living without her.

Fast forward seven years – i had started hearing some little noises at my place – strange ones, as if something was whining in the night;  it was barely heard, yet it was there, the sound, night after night.

No one else could hear it. When i asked my mother to stay overnight and help me understand what was it – she did so and had concluded the noises were in my head. Right…

I live on the first floor of the mansion which is bordered by a cul-de-sac in the front and a park in the back; it is a calm neighborhood with scarce traffic and very little noise; the climate is beautiful around here – Mediterranean –  and it’s safe, so the windows are kept opened for the best part of the year.

One room, which meanwhile my collection of books claimed (that’s how we settled at the end – first they wanted the whole place!) – back then was kept for friends and family who were visiting; i seldom went there, except to undust sporadically…

And it’s there, in the closet of the guest’s room which door was ajared , that a stray cat gave birth to five beautiful kitten! It was them who made those little noises in the night!

Mama-cat was absolutely amazing and we wanted to keep all of them, but after two months – she had left while taking three kittens with her and leaving Manya and her brother with us.

I took them for vaccination and as that year the vaccines were spoiled – like many other furbabies in 2006, they almost died; they got so sick that the vet – also a dear friend of mine – told me it was the best to put them to sleep… No way i’d do so! I spent the summer attending to them and a good part of my savings for daily vet’s visits; they couldn’t eat so they needed to be fed intravenously; they had also developed various infections, had to be treated with antibiotics and whatnot… and it’s back then, i believe, that i started perceiving them as my own babies, they were so helpless that my heart was breaking.

Against all the odds, they made it and very soon became two healthy and spoiled little brats who brought joy and love back into our lives.

Sadly, Manya’s brother went missing three years ago – you see – albeit i had thought them to go to sandbox, the minute they could stand on their paws, they wanted out… and i couldn’t keep them in, there wasn’t  a way to do so, without causing them big distress. One day, my tomcat didn’t come back – and again i was crying and felt that desperation and profound sadness which we feel when we lose a part of ourselves.

Manya grew up to be a demanding and capricious young lady. She’s an Alpha cat – strong and curious and brave. Oftentimes when i go visit friends who live in a house down the street – when she decides ‘enough is enough’, she comes over to pick me up. She doesn’t mind they have a rottweiler – she sits there, meowing demandingly  – until i come out and head towards home.

My parents live next door – and we “share custody ” of Manya, it’s too funny to observe the cats’ politics – how she makes sure everyone is payed respect to and divides time between the three of us; she sleeps in turns with each member of the household while keeping a quite precise schedule… unless someone is sick, then she is there, until all is good again.

When my parents traveled for two weeks recently – she hardly ate anything, lost too much weight and spent all of her time laying down on my father’s bed -mourning. Oy, the quetching she gave them when they got back! You should have heard that!

Also, she has a perfect judgement – she knows exactly at which moment of time whom she can manipulate into attending to her needs – be it the daily combing  or feeding her at 5am or something else she needs done; no mistakes there – emotional intelligence at its peak!

From time to time, she gets overbearing – and instinctively she does feel whom of us is on the edge of sprinkling her with water; her tactics and targets are changed accordingly – and immediately!

There is a sentence from  Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ which stuck forever in my mind: I lived with many spiritual teachers, all of them were cats.

For it’s Manya who thought me to love unconditionally and there is so much about her – and cats in general – that is awe inspiring.

They were considered Deities, in Egypt – and cats never forgot that.