A Cat Named Cheesecake

We found this guy in an alley in the middle of last winter. He’s still kind of sick but the improvement in his health has been amazing.

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Now, if we could just get him to stop eating like he’s still starving in the street, that would be awesome!

Turf-watching Cat

I was out walking my dog earlier today and right as we were coming to the corner of a block, this cat came strutting around the corner like he owned the place. Maybe he does? Maybe he lives in the building and hangs out there all the time?

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Anyway, when he saw my dog, his demeanor changed right away and he walked to this spot by the wall and just sat there, watching carefully. My dog isn’t very big, so I doubt the cat was afraid. It was more as if he was keeping an eye on a visitor to his turf. Sort of like the dudes that hang out on the corners around here all the time.

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Singapore 2010 Chinese New Year: Luck, Decorations, Crowds & Surcharges

Last year my wife and I missed out on seeing Chinatown at Chinese New Year’s completely.  Somehow, I got the date mixed up and we wound up going down there the day after the celebration.  This year I made sure to mark my calendar correctly.

Luck

We’d originally planned on eating at Bugis Junction, at the Pastamania in the food court.  We didn’t realize the place would be shut down.  In fact, almost everything was shut down.  Yoshinoya was open but I don’t care for the way the food there tastes.

We decided to take our chances and headed on to Chinatown.  There was a hawker open across the street from the MRT exit so we walked over to it, using the pedestrian bridge to go over the road.  At the base of the stairs, hiding by the edge where the plants are, we saw this kitten:

 

This is the year of the Tiger and a tiger is basically a big cat.  Maybe this means luck will come our way this year?  We like cats, so my wife carries around a little cat food to hand out to strays that look hungry.  We gave some to the kitten before going into the hawker to have our dinner.

Decorations

The reason we went down to Chinatown was to see the decorations.  The atmosphere was very lively so we wound up staying a bit longer than we’d planned.  I was really impressed with the decorations.  They were very nice looking.  It put us in a great mood and we even stopped for ice cream.  There was a guy there selling ice cream from a push cart.  He cut a slice (literally) and put it between two wafers and handed it to me wrapped in a plastic.  It was really good and only cost me 1 SGD.

Here are some of my favorite photos.

There weren’t as many decorations as there were at Christmas, which surprised me, but the decorations that were there were really nice.

Crowds

For a short while, we considered staying for the main event, but the crowds were starting to press in real tight.  We could hardly walk.  The crowds kept bottlenecking in certain areas which made it hard to get around.  Also, having so many people in such a small area was cutting out the breeze.  The place was starting to get hot, sticky, smelly and just plain unpleasant.

The stage was set up in such a way that unless you were a special person, a VIP, and had access to the privileged seating area, you could barely see anything.  There were very few vantage points that would offer a decent view and they were packed.

I have to wonder why the stage would be set up in the center of the road like that.  It offers such a narrow viewing area.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to set it up caddy-corner in an intersection?  A LOT more people could get a good view then, rather than just the few VIPs that were likely sitting comfortably across from the stage.

If you’re going to have a public event, set it up so the public can actually see it.

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We decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and moved off into the side roads to look at the stuff for sale.  The crowds there were horrible too, so after fighting our way free to a major road we headed back to the MRT station and went back to Pasir Ris.

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Surcharges

Toilets

I forget the name of the mall just outside the MRT exit in Chinatown, but they had a clever scheme set up.  I really can’t blame them because it makes sense from a business perspective, but it was still annoying.  When we were leaving we stopped in at the mall to use the restroom.  The female restroom on the lower level was conveniently closed for cleaning.  So, we searched further into the mall and found another restroom.  The difference was that it was a pay restroom.

Like I said, I don’t really blame them, because there were a lot of people going into the mall just to use the toilet.  They have to cover the cost somehow.  But still… obvious scheme was obvious.

Food

The hawker we ate at on CNY Eve didn’t charge us anything extra for our meal.  When we got back to Pasir Ris and had roti prata and beer, we weren’t charged extra.

Yesterday though, on Sunday, we went to Bedok to look for something to eat at the hawker.  We were hoping the New World Mutton stall would be open, but it was closed. There was a chicken rice hawker stall open though.  Great Wall chicken rice I think.  We ordered two plates and after our food was ready the guy told us there was an extra .50 SGD per plate as a holiday surcharge.  Thanks for letting us know up front.  At least the food was good.

Sunday evening after jogging we passed through the hawker to get dinner.  We ordered two plates of roast pork rice.  2.50 per plate.  After the food is ready the guy says, “7 dollar”. I asked him what he was talking about and point at the sign. 2.50 and 2.50 is 5 bucks. Turns out this jackass wanted to add 1 SGD to each plate as a holiday surcharge.  I told him he should’ve put up a notice.

Well, turns out he did.  He pointed to a tiny sheet of paper, covered in Chinese characters and prices which I had assumed was another menu, or the same menu but in Mandarin.  I just gave him a look.  I’m white.  The chances of a random white guy being able to read Mandarin are pretty damn slim.  I’m sure that there are people from a lot of other countries in Singapore that don’t read Mandarin either, which is why English is the business language. Nice calculated way of trying to pressure people into giving up more money.

Well, I didn’t have 7 dollars on me.  We had literally just finished jogging and we brought just enough for what food usually costs plus 1 dollar for either a fee or in case I felt like having an iced kopi.  So, I told him sorry, that I only had 6 bucks, and turned and started to walk away.  Of course, the guy called me back and said 6 dollars would be ok.  I figured he would say that.  6 bucks is better than him throwing the food away.  So… haggling win for me.

I understand the point that they’re working on a holiday, but something tells me the workers aren’t getting paid any extra.  Also, with only a few stalls open, I know they’re already making a killing picking up business from all of the other stalls that were closed. The .50 SGD extra from earlier I can accept, but 1 SGD extra on a 2.50 plate?  That’s about a 30% markup.  Seems greedy to me.

I don’t remember this kind of surcharge being added to food last year.  Hopefully they don’t try to drag that out for the full 15 day holiday.

All in all, it was fun to get out of the house and look around and we had a real good time seeing the decorations in Chinatown.  It reminds me of when I used to go to Chinatown in New York City as a kid.  I regret not seeing any dragon-lion dances but I’m sure they’ll be other times.  I’ve seen quite a few since being here in Singapore, especially with the opening of so many malls over the past year and a half.  Lion dances seem to be a tradition to bring luck to a newly opened store here.

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all have good fortune this year!

Mini Marble Is Back In Action

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Mini Marble is back in her territory enjoying life.  After going jogging on Thursday night we walked by where she lives and called her name.  Right away she ran to us to say hello.  We went ahead and gave her a little something to eat, played with her a bit and then went on our way.

It was good to see her back in her usual spot.  It was kinda lonely walking through there and not seeing her the past week while she was at the vet getting spayed.  It seems like everything went well.  They kept her a few extra days to make sure she was ready to play outside again, which was really nice of them.

My Cat Ripped A Lizard’s Tail Off

This is the first time I’ve ever seen this actually happen in person so it was pretty neat for me.

I was sitting on my bed, playing with my cat when she leapt off and ran towards the door.  I looked to see what she was doing and she was chasing a small lizard around the room.  Next thing I know, she’s swatting at a flopping, pale looking thing on the floor.  I took it away from her and it turns out it was the lizard’s tail.

The tail kept flopping around on its own for about five minutes.  It was kinda creepy.

The lizard itself hid in a corner.  I grabbed it with some tissue and put it outside.  It’s probably too traumatized to come back in the house so I’m sure that’s where it wanted to be anyway.

Gu Gu The Cat

My wife is a cat lover, and I’m fond of them myself. So, when my wife said that she’d heard about a movie called Gu Gu The Cat, I knew right away that we were going to see it. This was one of those times when I had to give in. Besides, it looked funny, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.

Going to the movies here in Singapore is a very expensive outing, and will usually wind up costing about 35 bucks, including transit and a few light movie goodies, so she wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to make it. We’re getting ready for a move and our finances are tight. As sort of an answer to her prayers, her coworker won free tickets to the sneak peak showing for last night and wasn’t going to be able to attend. So, she asked my wife if she’d like the tickets and of course my wife jumped on the opportunity.

Last night we rushed out of the house at about 6pm, not sure if we were going to make it on time. The directions on the e-mail announcing the free tickets was a bit vague. It just said “GV Plaza 4.” So, she contacted a friend and asked where that was, and was told it was at Vivocity at Harbourfront. So, off we went! We managed to make fairly good time and were a bit anxious as we waited for the train to reach Harbourfront. We literally ran through the tunnel and dashed up the escalators to make it to the theater on time and sure enough, we got to the theater right at 7pm. Unfortunately… we were at the wrong theater. The sneak peak showing was at Plaza Singapura, and we were already out of time.

My wife was crushed. She really wanted to see the film. Like I said, she really loves cats! So, I consoled her by telling her that we’d set aside money and definitely catch Gu Gu at the regular opening on the 23rd. To cheer ourselves up we wandered around the mall and wound up having a pretty good time (more about that later).

Last night when we got home she started searching the internet to see if she could find a copy to watch. The film isn’t new, it just hadn’t been shown in Singapore yet. That’s nothing new. There’s a movie called Traitor that’s starting here in Singapore soon, but we saw a DVD copy from the US months ago. She found a copy on YouTube, but by then it was pretty late and she had to work today so I downloaded the files and set it up to watch tonight.

So, she was very excited and got home from work early. After we ate we got comfortable and started up the movie. For the first 15 minutes or so, it was interesting, to me at least, but after that it was painfully slow. The movie is more of a drama about life in general than about cats, and it seemed to focus more on the people in the story than on Gu Gu. Gu Gu was more there for comedic relief than anything.

Don’t get me wrong. The movie has its high points, and there’s something to be learned from it, but if you go into it thinking it’s going to be a comedy, or very cute, or happy, you’ll be let down. The movie deals with a lot of heavy themes about love, relationships and missed opportunities. It even touches on the pain and loss of death.

So, I can’t say it was a bad movie, really. It just wasn’t what I expected.

Here are a few screenshots of the movie, courtesy of AsianFanatics.net, as well as the first segment of the movie (video was removed due to terms of use violation) movie trailer that’s hosted on YouTube:

My Cat is in Heat

A few days ago, we noticed that one of our cats, Bouncy, was acting funny. She was being a lot more affectionate than usual. Typically, this cat is the epitome of the aloof bitch cat. So, we were wondering what had happened. She was even coming to us and rubbing against our legs.

This went on for two days, and then she started making these weird mewling noises in the night. I was beginning to wonder if she was sick, and then it dawned on me. She’s about 8 months old. Maybe she was in heat? Sure enough, that’s what it is! Today, she started assuming the position and scuttling around with her butt in the air. It’s kinda weird really. It’s like my cat is hitting on me. To make things more interesting, we have a male kitten in the house. He’s only two months old, but Bouncy apparently thought he could satisfy her urges. She started laying down near him with her butt in the air. Being a kitten though, Timmy was only worried about one thing. He wanted to PLAY! So, when she poked her butt up at him, he bit and swatted her tail. Then he started slapping her cootchie. She didn’t like that much. She would scoot forward a bit, meowing strangely, and then poke her butt back up in the air.

We wanted to double check, to make sure it was actually her being in heat and not some weird cat illness, so we looked it up on the internet and found the following information on About.com:

  • Immediately preceding oestrus, your female cat may become unusually affectionate, by sidling up and rubbing her hind quarters against furniture, stuffed toys, other cats, and/or her favorite human.
  • She may spend excessive time licking her genital area. Note: Lacking the other behavioral traits on this list, genital licking can be a symptom of a urinary tract disorder, which can be serious if not treated promptly.
  • The Queen (name for female cats of breeding age) will vocalize loudly. This “calling” may go on for several days, unless she mates.
  • She will assume a mating position: head down, forelegs bent, rear quarters raised to expose the perineum (this raised posture is called lordosis), with the tail raised and held to the side of the body. Her rear legs will tread rhythmically, as if walking in place.
  • Queenie may also spray vertical surfaces with a strongly scented fluid. She will accomplish this by backing up to the surface and raising her tail high. The tail may quiver, and she may perform the rhythmic treading described in step four.
  • If your female cat does not mate, she will go into oestrus as often as every two to three weeks, for several months each year, until she either mates or is spayed.

 

We also found the following tips:

  • Unless she is a qualified pedigreed breeder, your female cat should be spayed. It will not only cease the uncomfortable heat cycles, but prevent certain serious medical problems.
  • Your veterinarian may be able to give your female cat hormones to stop the oestrus, if spaying is not immediately possible.
  • Female cats as young as four months can go into oestrus.

 

So, bad news for Bouncy! Looks like she’s in an “uncomfortable heat cycle” and will have to get her junk chopped up in the near future. Poor Bouncy. At least she’ll get a cool ear tattoo out of the deal. (Spayed/nuetered cats in Singapore either get their ear clipped, or get an ear tattoo to indicate completion of the procedure).

I managed to get some of it on video, so for your viewing pleasure:

Horny Cat, Playful Kitten

Itim Na Pusa Photo Update 2

My, my! Look how Timmy’s grown! He’s getting so big so fast! He’s a really good cat. I wasn’t sure about him at first, but now he’s very energetic and playful. Our other two cats have both taken a liking to him. My wife is really fond of him too. What’s best about Timmy is his poses. I’ll try to get some pictures of that later. When he sees something that interests him he stretches his neck to look and his eyes get really really big! I’ll try to get some photos of that for next time. The only thing about Timmy that disappointed me is that his bright blue eyes turned green. A black cat with bright blue eyes would have been really cool. Still, a black cat is neat. Sometimes he’ll sleep on a black blanket, or in a shaded spot and you won’t even see him til you’re almost standing on him. It’s fun, but sometimes it scares my wife. We’ll be laying on our bed, watching a horror movie, and all of a sudden Timmy will pop up out of the shadows next to her and startle her. I think it’s funny…


Itim Na Pusa Photo Update

By request, I’m giving a photo update on how Itim Na Pusa is doing.

Itim, or now sometimes Timmy for short, seems to be doing better since he got here. He’s a lot more playful and active. He cleaned up nice too. One strange thing about him is how he likes to stand in his food while he eats.

This kitten is small. I don’t think it’s supposed to be off milk yet, so we’ve been giving it soft food. The problem is, I think it eats when it’s hungry and eats when it’s thirsty too. It doesn’t seem to visit the water bowl much. When we run out of wet food it’s gonna be hurtin, because he’ll have to eat dry food, which he probably won’t want to do. This wet food is necessary, but it’s gonna spoil him. The other cats are jealous of him too. They only get wet food for treats.

Of the two cats the only one that seems to have accepted him at all is Dapper. She kicks him around sometimes and lets him walk around behind her, or sleep near her. Bouncy on the other hand either runs from the kitten or hisses and growls and then runs. I don’t understand what her problem is, except that now she’s the least favorite.

And one other interesting thing about Itim is when he sleeps on my lap he really relaxes and stretches out.

So, he seems to be fitting in ok. Bouncy is a bitch. She doesn’t really like anything. She doesn’t even like it much when Dapper tries to play with her, and they’ve known each other for months. I just wonder how we’re going to convince him to start eating dry food.

ITIM na pusa!

A few days ago, a kitten that my wife took in named Fievel died on us. We hadn’t really expected him to live long. He was in bad shape. The person she took him from had found him in a pile of garbage, and was planning on throwing him back in, but she agreed to take him instead. She wanted Fievel to die warm, happy, and fed, if he was going to die. Unfortunately, he did die. I suppose that left a gap that my wife wanted to fill, so she found a new kitten to adopt.

Originally, she was supposed to adopt a kitten named Nala that was 3 months old. We’re still not sure what happened to Nala, or why the person we were going to get her from chose to offer us this cat instead, but she did. It seemed like an amusing twist of fate though. Here’s why:

My wife is from the Philippines and of course she speaks Tagalog. She’s been trying to get me to learn some of it, and it’s an interesting language. I’ve always wanted to speak a second language. I studied Spanish for a while too, because my mom’s side of the family speaks it. I could probably perfect my Spanish with enough diligence, but I haven’t been able to muster up the desire to do it yet. Anyways, my wife seems intent on me learning some Tagalog, so I started studying it on my own a bit. I acquired a copy of a program called Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is a language learning software for most any language you can think of. It’s a fantastic program and you can learn another language in leaps and bounds with it. I highly recommend it!

Learning a new language always starts with the basics: numbers, dates, simple words, and of course, colors. After you learn a few of those basic words it starts teaching you simple phrases based on what you already know, to start teaching you sentence structure. One phrase was “Itim na pusa.” This was coupled with things like “puti na ibon” and “dilaw na isda.” My wife would come home sometimes and ask me if I’d learned anything new. So, I would tell her a few phrases and she would get a laugh out of it.

One day we were walking from the hawker area back to our place. We were almost at the elevator doors, when I looked over and saw a cat laying down on the cement, looking at me. I wasn’t really thinking about it, but I pointed and said, in a loud, confident voice, “ITIM na pusa!” My wife looked at me, then looked where I was pointing and had a great laugh over it. I started laughing too. The cat didn’t seem to care, but after that I would say “ITIM na pusa!” every time I saw it. It became sort of a joke, and sometimes she would ask me to say it even when we were just sitting around the house. I guess the way I say it is amusing.

So, like I was saying earlier, we were supposed to get a cat named Nala from the woman my wife had contacted. When the woman showed up, she showed up with a black cat. After the usual chatter about taking care of it, and if it needed wet or dry food, etc, etc, my wife asked if the cat had a name yet. The woman replied that no, it didn’t. So, my wife said she thought I had a name for it. I looked at the cat and said, “ITIM na pusa!” We were laughing about it, but the joke went over the lady’s head. She’s Singaporean, so she didn’t understand the Tagalog.

Now, this cat has a sentence for a name, but it’s still amusing. His name is “Itim na pusa,” or Itim for short. For anyone who hasn’t worked it out, “Itim na pusa” means something like “The black cat,” or the “The cat is black.” I think “pusang itim” would be “black cat.” This is the first cat we have that we’ve named ourselves, and it’s great to have a reason and a story to go behind it.