Irresistible Charm

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Dr. Yogi was already consulting when we arrived at BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – early last Sunday. There are no curtains on the Consulting Room’s windows and I could see the young woman was crying. I knocked and asked if I could help.

Dr. Yogi explained he had euthanized her kitten. Not really her kitten, she said. She had picked it up from the road the day before where it had been hit. The vet she had taken it to said it would be fine but in the morning she realised there was something very wrong and bought it to BAWA.

After Dr. Yogi examined the kitten, he recommended it be euthanized and she had agreed. It doesn’t make it any easier knowing you’ve made the right decision and the only thing we can say in these situations is that the kitten’s last days were with someone who cared, and she had.

“Please don’t leave before you come and see the wonderful things that are done here at BAWA,” I encouraged. She agreed and we went over to the area where the kittens and cats are housed.

Don’t you just love kittens and puppies? I can sit mesmerised by their antics for hours. It is good for the soul.

We had completely forgotten the time when Lily arrived with her mother, Sarah. Lily, along with the two Balinese girls, Putu and Putu, comes each Sunday to volunteer at BAWA. She is only 11 years old and completely dedicated to helping the Bali dogs and cats that are bought to the BAWA clinic. However, this Sunday she arrived with something very snugly in her arms.

For months I had been trying to entice Sarah into letting Lily have a kitten – or two – but as a responsible parent who knows only too well that one day they will return to Australia and that the quarantine laws are such that bringing any sort of animal back is financially prohibitive, let alone the six long months in Sydney on its own, Sarah resisted. So what was this in Lily’s arms?

The most beautiful amber eyes peered out from within the turquoise sarong. I could barely see the tiny ginger kitten behind Lily’s huge smile. Once again I am delighted by the story of “We didn’t choose our puppy or kitten; he or she chose us.” What could Sarah and Stephen, Lily’s father, say? Little Mr. Puss in Boots, as Lily has now named him, already had them curled around his tiny ginger paw. He is so sweet with his big eyes and helpless appearance.

Lily holds him gently as Dr. Yogi examines him. Sarah has already cleaned him up but his ears are still dirty. His temperature is fine – he’s not that impressed with the thermometer in his rear end – and he endures the immunisation needles, which give him an excuse to be snugly more tightly by Lily and to look even more helpless. Lily doesn’t stay this morning but who can blame her? She has to look after Puss in Boots, who has had a rough start to his little life. Ah! I can see this is a match made in Bali heaven.

The morning jobs are nearly finished. Putu and I return to the kitten area. A tri-coloured cat – did you know that all tri-coloured cats are female? – had been spayed earlier in the morning and is now in a cage nearby, waiting for her owners to collect her.

A family arrives. I am confused. It’s my friend Kerry, well-known artist of the Pranoto Gallery in Ubud, with her two children, Tahlia and Emil (my favourite name ever since seeing the movie South Pacific and the very handsome Rossano Brazzi playing the part of the French plantation owner, Emile De Becque), and once again I am reminded that all too often you make assumptions based on nothing really and you are wrong. I had always assumed Kerry didn’t care much for Bali cats and dogs. I am here in print to right my wrong.

The beautiful tri-coloured cat is theirs and Stubby – oh dear, not a kind name for such a beautiful cat – wandered in a while back, wild and miserable, just like their other three cats. Stubby was, however, getting some pretty suggestive looks of late from the local tomcats, who would have been happy to add to the Ubud cat population, but Kerry, being the responsible pet owner, said Stubby had to follow in her sibling’s footsteps and off she was bundled to BAWA.

Later, as Kerry and I were speaking with Dr. Yogi, I noticed both Tahlia and Emil had two little kittens in what seemed to be a totally hypnotic state. What on earth were they doing? I asked Kerry. “Ah,” she said, “we call this the ‘Tahlia cat whisperer technique.’”

It is totally amazing to watch. Each little kitten that Tahlia picked up would be on its back and powerless in a blink of a kitten’s eye. They were purring and once released would rub against Tahlia’s leg in a manner of “thank you” and “more, please.”

If your week is a slog and you need to be calmed and restored for the week ahead, please join me at BAWA in Lodtunduh and in the meantime keep your eyes out for the Bali dogs and cats that need your help and donate to BAWA – money, collars and leads, disinfectants and cleaning materials. It will be greatly appreciated.

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