I made these and all sorts of other cat noises while clawing empty air with my hands. The very old Chinese lady shop keeper looked at me as if I were insane — or, to borrow a term from the British, “a bit mental.” I didn’t blame her. I did look a bit silly. Only, this is what you resort to when you Chinese is terrible, and Baidu Translate can’t render “scratching post” in Chinese. When all else fails when you’re a foreigner, you resort to hand signals and bad pantomime.
At the time, I was in a tiny pet shop on Chaohu Road 巢湖路 — which runs between Hohai University and Wanda Plaza in Xinbei. My cat had been missing for a week, and he had just been rescued and I wanted to buy him a “welcome home” gift. There was a practical desire too, before Spock went missing, he was waging war on all the furniture in my apartment. I wanted give him something acceptable to destroy. Eventually, I spotted a scratching post in the corner and simply pointed. She grabbed it, I paid, and I left. As soon as I got home, I presented my gift to my kitty, and he promptly ignored it and started scratching an armchair.
This is just one example of the challenge of having a cat in Changzhou. My assumption is that the locals love birds and dogs more. I base this assumption solely on my shopping experience. Toys and products for dogs are easy to find in supermarkets and pet stores, and merchandise for cats are harder to locate. So, my search is ongoing.
Note: This is is more of a personal post with little informational value about Changzhou.
Yes, I have a cat that has been named for an iconic Star Trek character, but how and why he got that name is a story for another time. Recently, he disappeared. I came home from the bar on night and he was gone. This was really perplexing. There are only two ways he got out, and that was either through the door or out the window. The door was just not possible. So, that leaves the window.
Now, consider this. I live on the seventh floor. Besides a perch for my heating and air conditioning unit, there are no ledges, crawlspaces, nooks or crannies that Spock could navigate. If he went out the window, it would have been more than likely that he fell. As grim as it sounds, I went looking for his body the next morning in the shrubbery under my window. Only, I never found a dead cat.
I started wondering if he got out of the door somehow when I wasn’t looking. I went down to the Hohai Guest Center lobby and talked to a receptionist. After showing her a picture of my pal, I asked if any of the workers had seen a rogue kitty roaming and marauding the hallways. Nobody reported anything unusual. In the meantime, I kept his litter and his food. When I lived in Wujin, he got out all the time, but he always came back. Since there was no dead body, I assumed he might be alive. I tried looking for him, but I found nothing.
A week went by. I adjusted to a life without a cat. I had accepted that I had lost one of my best friends, and I was about to start throwing his stuff out. One night, I was walking home after classes, I heard him yowling. I looked up, and he was on a ledge looking down at me, desperately pleading for help. Basically, there is a covering that sticks out from doorway at Hohai’s north gate. It’s over the entrance to Hohai’s health clinic. In a way, it’s “sorta” like a balcony. There were windows right above my cat, and I rushed inside to see if I could get to him. I couldn’t. There were just no access points. Plus, it was raining, and I couldn’t find a ladder. Even if I could, it would have been slippery and unsafe to try and climb up to get him. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to leave Spock there. I reasoned that at least I knew where he was. And that he was alive.
Eventually, I had to get my foreign affairs officer involved. She called somebody from the university’s logistics department. They came out with a ladder, and the guy climbed up, grabbed the cat, and stuffed him into my back pack. So, now my cat his home, safe, and amazingly enough, uninjured. Since he hadn’t eaten in about a week, he had lost a lot of weight and was now quite scrawny. That being said, it least he wasn’t sick or injured with a broken bones. And that brings up the mystery.
How did he get there? As I said, I live on the seventh floor. He ended up six floors down, and if he jumped, it’s diagonal and a long distance. As I also said, there are no easy access points or crawl spaces. I just can’t figure out how he ended up where he did. The mystery, though, just isn’t important. My kitty is where he should be: home. He is still acting a bit traumatized and is demanding affection every three minutes. As annoying as that is, I’m happy he missed me.