Everyone, meet Titus. This is my year in China with him.
When I was living in China, I found Titus on the street and rescued him. I noticed him when I was walking through an animal street market, and saw the vendor wrench him away from his mother and jam him into a tiny cage. He couldn’t even move.
I never intended on adopting a cat when I came to China, but I knew if I didn’t take him home, that would be a preview of his life to come. Unappreciated, mistreated, and probably abused—or worse, as food. There were bins of skinned cats at the supermarket, and it wasn’t hard to imagine that’s how he’d end up. Most cats in China are strays, few people keep them as pets, they’re mostly viewed as pests. He peed on me on the way home he was so scared, but that quickly changed when I gave him a warm bed and some food.
This was his first bath. His fur was all matted and nasty, the Chinese vendor didn’t care about his health, and he needed some TLC when I brought him home. He was the runt of the litter, but those are usually the ones with the most heart. And Titus was all heart.
I’m not positive, but I think he was a month old when I brought him home. He never left my side. Wherever I went, he went too. He didn’t like showers, but he’d get upset if I didn’t at least leave the door open for him.
I tried celebrating Halloween in China, because I was really lonely, and it made me feel more at home. Titus tried to help.
He went everywhere with me. I’d put him in the cowl of my hoodie and he’d ride to the grocery store with me. Everyone stopped and laughed and pointed, but I knew Titus had my back.
They grow up fast though. He was a very bright kitten, and liked to play. He was a lot of company for me, I didn’t have anyone to talk to and was very depressed. I spent most of my time in my apartment, and Titus helped me feel more at home.
I was really depressed and shaved my head. It made me feel better for some reason, and Titus didn’t care. I lost 25 pounds that year, and was sick constantly. The pollution there is unbelievable. I have asthma, and didn’t have medicine there, so I’d sit in the hot shower just trying to breathe. But Titus always made me feel better.
No matter what I was doing, he was always watching, plotting something sneaky. We had a lot of fun, but I after doing some research, I discovered it would cost several thousand dollars to bring him back to the US, and I just couldn’t afford it.
I tried not to think about that though. I didn’t know what would happen to him, but I couldn’t stand the thought of letting him go. I just wanted to enjoy the time we had left. He also liked to chew on my fingers. I think it was because he was taken from his mother before he was ready, so he wasn’t weaned properly.
He always wanted to be a part of what I was doing. He ate everything too. His favorite things were noodle soup, and the scrambled eggs I had every morning. He’d try to steal the noodles from my chopsticks if he could.
One of his favorite things to do was chase his tail on my bed. He would run in circles, always surprised when it got away. This is before he was neutered. Chinese have a very low opinion of cats as pets, and seldom bother spaying or neutering. I didn’t know what would happen when I left, so I wanted to make sure he’d have a good life. I’m not a fan of blood, but I found a vet and went with him. They told me to leave the operating room, but I wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure how competent the doctor was, and I wanted to be there for Titus if I could. Everything turned out ok though. It’s actually a super simple procedure, and Titus was just fine. Turns out there’s really not much blood involved at all.
My students couldn’t believe I adopted a cat. They thought I was crazy. They asked if they could come over and play with him. They didn’t really know how to behave around cats, and were too rough with him. But Titus didn’t mind, he knew they meant well. Towards the end of the year, I started interviewing people to adopt him from me. It was so hard, trying to tell them what he liked and what his favorite treats were and how he should and shouldn’t be handled. For example you can’t pull on a cat’s legs, tail, or ears. They don’t like that. Hard concept to grasp for some reason. They were mostly kind and well-intentioned, but watching them I knew no one would ever “get” him like I did.
This is the morning I left China. This was the last time I saw Titus. I found a good family for him, an elderly couple who live in an apartment. Saying goodbye to Titus was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. He was my best friend, he kept me company and kept my sanity in a time when I felt very alone. A little stray kitten from the streets of China, came into my home and changed my life. I almost missed my ride to the airport because I didn’t want to say goodbye. I knew I would probably never see him again. Anyways, I just wanted to share that with you. Titus was an amazing guy, and I thought his story deserved to be shared. I miss you a lot buddy.