When we left our host family in Santa Marta we left Llama with the daughter of one of the school teachers. She kindly sent through this photo because we thought we might like to see his progress. Our thoughts:
Golly he’s grown. Suddenly a real looking cat.
His eyes look a bit funny in this photo, and he still hasn’t properly grown into his ears, but overall he is very handsome.
Look at the excellent tiger-like markings on his back and rump!
The photo was also a reminder of just how much time has passed since we left the kids of Mariposas. On one level it has only been a little more than six months. But just like six months must seem a long time to a growing kitten as he transitions into being a cat, the diversity of experience we’ve had across South America, Asia and the Middle East makes our time seem very long. Especially if you think back to the detail of one destination or another.
We keep in touch with Mariposas, and understand it has been trucking along okay. Not without some challenges, mind. New legislation had the unexpected consequence of requiring volunteers to come with pre-arranges visas, which is costly and cumbersome. And the city of Santa Marta spent months without piped water. Organisations are not easy things to run in the developing world, with challenges like these.
Llama‘s new family in Santa Marta have, delightfully, sent us an update on his progress. They say: “He is very playful and likes to jump and run all around. But not to leave the house. He is very cute and has grown a bit.”
They also say that they took Llama for a visit to our host family, who were very pleased to see him and took these photos.
This afternoon we delivered Llama to his new home and into the arms of his new mum, Valeria. Valeria is the daughter of one of the local staff of Mariposas. We were super lucky to find such a good Forever Home for Llama. Their house is on a quiet street, and he’ll be tended to by an adoring eleven year old girl. She’s already super dedicated to ensuring his food is in the middle of his plate, where he likes to eat it.
Of course we are sad to leave Llama, and we hope you will indulge this one last photo – a family shot of sorts – but we are thrilled with this outcome for him.
What a difference two weeks makes. Tonight is our last with Llama before he heads to his Forever Home, but it is worth celebrating his progress since Fiona found him, skinny and scared and alone.
Llama is now a healthy looking kitten with a beautiful marmalade coat, a gordito belly and a healthy interest in biting the hand that feeds him when playing. He’s adventurous and gregarious and we know he will make his new owners very happy.
Llama’s been great for us too. He’s been a source of:
Constant entertainment: he does that sweet kitten thing of reaching just a little beyond his physical capability. So he’ll roll over, only to misjudge the angle and tumble away off your tummy.
Anxiety: like when he went all funny after his flea treatment, or when I was about to turn our room upside down to find him only to be halted by a mysterious squiggle inside a pillow case.
Many purr infused cuddles.
We have loved taking care of Llama and will miss him a lot. We know his mum is counting sleeps until his arrival. We’ll be delivering him tomorrow afternoon, along with three packets of his favourite food (the most expensive).
In one week of our care Llama has made great progress. He’s still very small, as you can see, but he’s more comfortable in his own skin. Each step is less shaky. And he’s becoming more playful and curious. He’s also becoming a connoisseur of different foods. He likes leftover chicken and tuna fine, but whiskers gatito food is the best, thank you very much. Cat biscuits are acceptable if mushed because he’s still transitioning from sucking to chewing.
Of course there are still things to learn:
You do not have to be in your food, to be able to eat your food (see below).
How to get on the bed himself. He’s done this once but we don’t know how and he shows no sign of repeating the feat.
It’s okay to bite when you’re a kitten with tiny ineffectual teeth, but there will come a time when it is not okay.
When the door to the room opens, you could possibly go out of it and explore the big wide world. At the moment Llama’s whole universe is our bedroom and his day is punctuated only by our return from school and visits from the grandchildren.
Running about the bed chasing hands under sheets is excellent but pouncing is a key skill which must be acquired and practised to be a credible kitten. Fiona has promised to demonstrate.
We are very pleased to be able to offer a report on Llama’s progress.
He’s a much happier kitten than when Fiona found him. He’s eating lots, making honest, and mostly successful, attempts to use his dirt box and survived his first worming treatment today. He’s also washing himself, although his determination to have very clean front paws is at the expense of the cleanliness of the rest of him.
We’re also thrilled to announce that we have identified a suitable Forever Home for Llama with one of the teachers at the school and her two daughters. She’s asked us to keep taking care of Llama until we leave Santa Marta though, to fortify his little self. We are only too happy to oblige.
Llama will keep eating and growing. And now he has the opportunity to develop more advanced cat skills, in which he is already showing an interest, including obstruction of laptop by sitting on keyboard, and irrational and changing distaste for various cat foods.
Most milk in Colombia is lactose free. It isn’t good to give cats (especially little ones) lactose. But evidently it isn’t great for Colombian stomachs either because most of the milk on sale is without lactose.
It can be really hard to find sufficient sand for a dirt box when you live in what’s basically a rocky desert.
Cute kitten pictures (see above) dramatically increase blog viewings.
Six week old kitten poo should have a consistency slightly less firm than toothpaste. Actually it was Frances Ratner of You Gotta Be Kitten Me that taught us that.
In what has become a delightful but unexpected trend in of our time in Colombia we have gotten acquainted with another kitten.
Fiona found this little guy while walking to school this morning. He was having a stand off with a dog. The dog was big and mean but kitten managed to hold off its advances with hissing. Kitten’s mum was nowhere to be seen. And he was looking very skinny. So she brought him home.
We’ve called kitten Llama. Llama, pronounced yah-ma, means flame. We figure for such a scrawny wee thing who has to fight to get big and healthy, a fierce name is important. As an added bonus the verb llamar means to call, and Llama is very good at calling indeed. At the moment we count it as a major victory when he settles down for a nap, drinks water or milk or eats some egg. At none of those times is he calling to us.
Our best googling of tests to do suggests Llama is probably about six weeks old. Kittens normally stay with their mums for twelve. But our googling has so far revealed little useful advice for taking care of orphaned kittens in the developing world. We don’t think Colombian police would take kindly to the suggestion we leave Llama with then. So, any first hand experience would be gratefully received. We’ll take care for Llama for a little while and find a family for him to live with before we leave Santa Marta.