Charis and her four kittens have come a long way since a dark night in June, when she was found huddled in a dark and cramped storeroom.
On a rainy night in June, a small grey and white cat crawled into an apartment along Sembawang Road. Sandwiched between the forests surrounding Upper and Lower Seletar Reservoirs, the neighbourhood was full of low-rise buildings and developments that advertise a respite from city life.
It was not the average haunt for a community cat, but here she was nonetheless — climbing into a dark and cramped storeroom to get away from the stormy night.
The cat had lived near a construction site in the area; part of the changing landscape that had shaped her life. Or ended it, if she had been unlucky enough to be run over by heavy vehicles and machinery.
She was heavily pregnant, and soon gave birth to four kittens: a tabby, with markings much like her, two sealpoint cats, and one tortoiseshell. The couple who lived in the apartment, John and Sarah, named this resilient mother cat Charis, meaning “grace” in Greek. But they couldn’t keep her for long, as they already had three other cats and their landlord forbade them from having more.
With a litter of kittens in their laps, John and Sarah reached out to Love Kuching Project for help, worried that their landlord would send the kittens to the AVS. We were at capacity with the Warrior and Halloween kittens to care for at the time, and we asked if they could hold on to Charis and her litter for a few months longer.
In the meantime, John and Sarah helped to feed their new storeroom-dweller. They noticed that she wasn’t feral — simply protective; Charis would yearn for pats, and was calm and affectionate.
We don’t usually take in mothers alongside their kittens — Love Kuching Project’s focus is mainly on kittens that have been abandoned, or older kittens that need a new home after their mothers have been neutered. But after seeing that Charis lived in an area that was under construction, and hearing about Charis’ affectionate nature, we decided to bring her into the fold.
In late June, Wendy, one of our fosterers, was available to foster Charis’ litter. So we scooped Charis and her kittens up from a corner of the storeroom, and bundled them over to their new foster home.
Her wariness continued at Wendy’s place, but she put up a brave front for her kittens:
Wendy was away for the summer, so Charis and her kittens were later transferred to Lin, the fosterer who had helped rescue the Astoria kittens. Lin kindly stepped up to foster the kittens, but was unable to foster Charis alongside them. In any case, we had planned to separate Charis from her litter before the transfer, as the kittens were already weaned and more likely to be adopted as individuals, rather than as a bonded family.
Unfortunately, we soon discovered that all of them had ringworm! Bookworm was still highly attached to her mom, so we brought them into the cattery together.
Charis and Bookworm went into our quarantine area, while Tigger, Simba and Snowball stayed at Lin’s. All of them got showers as well as twice-daily antifungal cream.
Thankfully, all five have since been cleared of ringworm and are ready for adoption!
Tigger, the tabby and chief troublemaker, was named after the jumpy and hyperactive character in Winnie the Pooh by Wendy’s daughters. Tigger is the bravest kitten of the litter with strangers and is curious and comfortable while her siblings usually run and hide at first. Tigger eats slowly and warily, as though savouring her food while making sure no one else gets to it!
Snowball is white from nose to tail, with light brown colouring on his nose and ears. He’s more timid and will hide when people came to visit, but in private he is Tigger’s partner-in-crime. The two take turns watching each others’ backs during acts of mischief. He was named Orh Nee by his rescuer for his Siamese colouration, after the sweet Teochew yam dessert.
Bookworm was so named as she constantly hid behind the books in Wendy’s bookshelves. She’s the shyest of all her siblings, and hides behind a box when new people come to visit. Like her seal point brother Snowball, she was also named Orh Nee. She is less attached to Charis now, and thrives on human affection and cuddles of all sorts.
Charis is their incredibly sweet one-year-old mother. Like her brood, Charis is reserved and takes a while to warm up to new humans. However, once that happens she is completely affectionate, and will rub up against your feet and greet you loudly when she sees you.
Simba is adventurous and interested in everything. While not as outspoken and curious as Tigger, Simba is often right behind Tigger checking new visitors out. Simba’s also very food-motivated and will give her best puss-in-boots expression for treats and meals. Once she feels safe, she will be active and playful. Fortunately for her, Simba has found a new forever home and is slated to move in this Saturday (September 21)!