Saying goodbye to the cute.

The weekend after I came back from Elbasan was the last couple of days with Iggy in my care.

After that one night when he joyously scarfed down a healthy quantity of canned cat food, he wasn’t so enthusiastic about solids, and I spent Saturday syringe-feeding him again. I realize this is normal, and that weaning to solids is not a linear process, but it was nonetheless frustrating. I found myself wondering how many more weeks I would spend giving the kitten a syringe several times per day.

Another complication was in cleaning up after him. There were several very good grocery stores in Lushnjë when I lived there (and there are now probably at least as many), but none of them carried any type of cat litter. The day after Iggy took his first solid food was also the day he took his first poop without me stimulating him, and that incident was not a problem, but obviously the situation was unsustainable. I was not ready to let a 5-week-old kitten become and outdoor cat, and it would take me a full day on a weekend to haul some kitty litter down from that one supermarket in Tirana. In the interim, I was kind of at a loss for ideas.

I don’t remember whether it was Saturday or Sunday morning, but some time over the weekend, my host dad Berti came to me and told me that he would take the kitten off my hands on Sunday afternoon. I had previously disclosed to them that I had not intended to keep Iggy in the long term, due to my allergies. Perhaps they had a better setup for keeping a grown cat, or perhaps they had grown attached to him in the previous week and didn’t want to say goodbye to his feline cuteness, but Berti and Donika were adopting my foster kitten. Since I was in the middle of scratching my head over how to keep Iggy from leaving “presents” all over my house, and how to get him to say goodbye to the syringe with heated formula, Berti’s announcement was good news. I still don’t know whether they started letting him wander outside the house right away, or whether they got him to do his business on a piece of newspaper in a corner, but either way, Berti came and collected Iggy on Sunday afternoon. I gave him the box and most of the bedding, and the mostly-full can of solid cat food. I kept my shawl.

That was right around the beginning of May. When my parents visited later that month, we went for a walk with Berti and Donika, and I asked how Iggy was doing. Donika related to us that he had a penchant for climbing to the top of the curtains so that Berti had to pull him down, and that he had a fondness for kitty acrobatics. (This whole conversation took place with me interpreting between Albanian and English, in case you’re wondering.) “But he’s disciplined!” she said. “He’s disciplined, because every night? He goes into his box, goes to sleep.” It sounded like he was a handful during the day but he at least did them the courtesy of sleeping through the night.

*waves Hi*

Iggy is not enjoying this. Iggy is politely tolerating this because I still smell like Mama to him.

The next time I saw Iggy was a few weeks after that, in mid-June when he was about 11 weeks old. Donika called me outside while she and Berti were doing some garden work out front. I scooted out to the front garden and was delighted to find my host mother holding Iggy out to me. He was a lot bigger than when I’d cared for him, but still a sweet little kitty. I sat on the front step with him in my arms; he buried his nose in my elbow and took a nap. When he woke up, I dashed into the kitchen and grabbed my digital camera, and I think these pics will be familiar to you.

When I left their home a year later with the end of my assignment, Iggy was a grown, healthy, somewhat dirtier, but still sweet and affectionate cat. Far as I know, they still have him; he should be four and a half years old now.

"Look at my new big paws!"

He is, however, enjoying this.