So apparently, everybody thinks that pretending your pets are your children is something that white people do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I swear. I love white people. And pets.
But I didn’t realize that when you raise a pet, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Back in December 2010, I got a kitten for Christmas. Well, technically it’s my parents’ Christmas present, but you see, because I’m smart and all, and I knew that my parents didn’t want any pets at home (“Because Zahra, you’re not the one taking care of them when you go to school”, “Because Zahra, you’re brother’s allergic to fur!”, “Because Zahra, with you in the house, we don’t need another pet!”), my friend gave me a kitten from his darling cat’s litter. I hid him in my bathroom on Christmas Eve.
That beautiful little creature was meowing away, and stinking up the whole bathroom. One time, my mom came in my room and the kitten’s claw was peaking out of the bottom of the door. And then there was meowing. So my mom said “What’s that noise??” I looked at her and went, “MEOW! MEOW! Play with me, I’m being a cat.” Yeah that was 2 years ago, but you see, I had no other choice.
So on Christmas day, I brought the kitten in the cutest little basket with a red ribbon on his head, and said “Merry Christmas!” At first, they were like, “WHAAT!?” then “Awwww!” then “No Zahra! (See list of reasons above)” then “Fine, but just for the weekend!” And then they fell in love. And I named him Ali Baba. Yes, that’s his real name, I swear.
But here’s the good part. I raised Ali Baba. He was like my own baby.
I had a routine for him. Before school, I’d pour some milk in a bowl for him. He’d come immediately. My mom froze a bunch of cat food (combinations of fish + rice, chicken + noodles, turkey + noodles) so when I came back, I fed him his lunch. Then at dinner, I’d give him water and cat biscuits.
I made sure he’d go to bed at the same time as I did, and I trained him to wake up at the same time as me.
But this Ali Baba, was not any old cat. I taught him how to play hide & seek, and tag with me. I’d hide behind a door, wait for him to come by, and POUNCE. And the cutest thing, was when I came home from school, as soon as I’d walk through the door, he’d do the same thing to me.
When I was sad, he’d come and curl in my lap and lick my hand. When I had to go wash the dishes, I’d wear a hoodie, and put him inside with his head sticking out, to keep me company. He even listened to me when I had something to talk about.
And then I had to move to Dubai. You see, because we were going to live in a hotel in for three months before moving into a real home, we couldn’t take him with us. So I arranged for him to go back to his original owner. When I brought him over my shoulder, he beat the crap out of me with his claws and and screamed and cried. Finally, he arrived, and as soon as I put him down, he ran away.
I never saw him again. For all I know, somebody could’ve eaten him.
But Ali was like a human teenager when I left him. In fact, he was even more human than some of the humans I knew. I’m pretty sure he’s somewhere now starting a family of his own without me, before me.
I know, you probably don’t care about my cat, but I just had to say this. I miss Ali Baba like kablooey.