Adopted - Oct 2003

In mid-October, a neighbor knocked on our door and asked if we had a cat. We didn't, but she said she heard one that seemed to be in our back yard. Sure enough, there was a very young kitten (maybe 5 weeks old) ensconced under our deck. It was very skittish and would hide from us. Jackie got a brief view of it, but I didn't. She reported that it had a very cute face. All I heard was its rustling and occasionally it would answer my own meowing. (I am known for my extended feline conversations, covering all manner of topics.) We put some food out, hoping to stave off starvation.

Bumi at the Deck

The cat responded less and less over the next couple of days, eventually giving no response at all. The food was getting eaten, but it could have been by any animal passing through the yard. (We caught quite a few stray rats, earlier in the year, but that is a different story.) We resigned ourselves to the loss, but then it started talking again.

While I was on a trip, Jackie reported that it was getting more responsive, tolerating her petting it while it fed. I returned to find it coming out more, but still pretty reticent.

We had a long weekend already scheduled up at Clear Lake, above Napa, about 3 hours north of us. Our choice was to recruit the kind neighbor who alerted us to the cat, or to take it with us. It really depended on whether we expected to keep it.

Jackie and I had lived around cats a number of times, but never been responsible for an animal. This made for a major decision, which we approached in our usual, casual manner, discussing it morning, noon and night for several days. We decided to keep it, if the vet declared it healthy. Of course, by then, we were already hooked. We had brought it indoors, to acclimate it to us and new surroundings, so that it would not freak out at the vet's or on the trip. Jackie wanted us to take it with us, so it could do the bonding thing during this critical time; she didn't want to be simply a source of food for an otherwise feral animal. Indeed, it started warming up, some, but was still pretty reticent.

That changed quickly.

And so, we had an interesting drive up to Clear Lake, as you can see.

The motel has a no-pet policy. Also the cat has fleas, until we can start using chemicals in a few more weeks. So we used a flea comb every day, to keep things under control, but kept it in the car. We made the space as interesting for it as we could, and over the course of a few days, it got much friskier and much more playful.

This is a very social kitten. He's now very comfortable with us. Follows us around, plays with us, and manages to bite without puncturing the skin. I have some scratch marks that folks nod knowingly at, but really they were an accident. The cat was passing across my arm and lost its balance.

The small matter of naming the darn thing took even less discussion than most of our other decisions, covering no more than the entire trip. I had quickly suggested Kishi, from an earlier cat I had been around, but the vet squashed that suggestion by informing us that we had been adopted by a male, not a female.

It appears that we have settled on Bumi Putra, or Bumi for short. This is Malaysian, for "prince of the soil" and is what ethnic Malays call themselves. We decided it was apt. We found Bumi in the dirt.