I live in Thailand, a country famed for it’s sunshine, beaches and laid back lifestyle. It is also one of the street animal capitals of the world. When we moved into our new house, within a few days we noticed a dirty, oil-stained cat living under a car on the street outside our house. It didn’t take him long to notice us either, and soon he was coming into our front yard, demanding strokes and love that I simply couldn’t give him in his current condition.
What followed was a trip to the vets to have him checked over. The vet put him at around 8 years old – pretty good going for a street animal. A few quick tests confirmed that my new friend had feline leukemia that was already quite progressive. He also had an infection in his face from mites in his ears. He was generally in a bad way, and of course being the soft-hearted girl that I am, when we went home that day he no longer stayed outside but was welcomed into my home. Knowing that I live in a country that doesn’t allow animals to be put down, I vowed to take care of him until the end.
I decided to call him Brian; it suited him. He had the attitude of a grumpy old man (wouldn’t you after 8 years living on the streets?) but he loved a snuggle. As time went on, Brian’s leukemia progressed more and more. He began to lose weight and lost the sight in one eye. But he kept on giving those snuggles until the very end. Our time together may have been brief but I am happy to have made his final year a happy, comfortable love-filled one.
Yes, that is a one-eyed cockerel. He mysteriously appeared in the garden yesterday morning. I’m guessing from his missing eye and the fact that he walks with a limp that he is an ex-fighter. I’m going to ask around but I have a feeling he may have been thrown over the garden wall – we are a bit of an animal sanctuary anyway so it makes sense to add a battle worn fighting cock to the mix. He spent the day following Marjorie around and it wasn’t until after a few hours that he actually made any attempt to have his wicked way with her. I’m not sure what this means in terms of eggs and chicks and all that, I guess if she gets broody and sits on her eggs then perhaps we will have mini Marjories on the way!
Any ideas for a name for the gent?
In other chicken news… the chicks are well into their teenage stages of development. Marjorie has had a turn around from her initial dislike of the chicks and now won’t leave them alone! We actually released the chicks into the garden free range this weekend (maybe the cockerel has a taste for the younger lady and this was the reason for his arrival…) so they are having fun running around and chilling out in the shade of the banana trees.
We also have a group of four jungle fowl that have taken up semi-residence in the back of our garden. They are like skinny, long necked chickens and I am hoping that they join the ever growing flock that I have. We are leaving them alone but each day they edge closer and closer to us – the more the merrier I say! Just need to brush up on my egg recipes…!
That’s all for this backyard jungle update – stay tuned for more riveting news as it comes!
Moving to Thailand (or anywhere, for that matter) changes people. Learning to adapt, to make do, and to appreciate things that may not have been appreciated in a previous, non-expat life (like butter that actually tastes like butter, or Cadbury’s chocolate, or good underwear).
One of the most noticeable changes in myself (at least, it is the thing that I hear comments about the most), is my new found love for animals. Some people are born animal lovers – I was not. As a child I did have a bad tempered pet hamster that everyone was too afraid to hold, and a fairground goldfish that lived for 9 years (RIP Tyrone Mullet III) – but that’s about as far as my animal ownership had stretched until coming here. Having never had a cat or dog or other animal where you actually get some loving payback for your care (usually in the form of licks, sniffs and cuddles) I just didn’t get the whole animal thing. I certainly would never click on, like, or share a funny cat video online. Oh how things have changed.
Those of you who have been following the blog for a while will recall the first animal to enter my life – a scrawny, flea ridden unidentified black cat found under the stairs at school on the last day of term. I named her Cat, a non-name just in case she didn’t survive. But, two years later she is alive and well in all her semi-Siamese, bug-eyed beauty.
A few months later, we added Patchy to the mix when we scooped him up from the flooded gutter at the side of the road during rainy season. We initially couldn’t take him to Phuket with us and after a year staying with our old next door neighbour in Hat Yai he is now back with us. He’s actually not very well at the moment and is having weekly chemotherapy sessions as he has a TVT (transmissible venereal tumour) AKA a sexually transmitted cancer. Lesson learned here? Get your animals neutered, especially if they are out on the streets gang banging the night away. Luckily, the prognosis with these kind of tumours is very good, and don’t worry – as soon as he is well enough those balls are coming off.
After the move to Phuket, another animal entered the picture; this time he chose to adopt us (we surely all know about Brian). He’s old, he doesn’t have many teeth left and he has feline leukhemia (just call us Phuket animal hospice). Sometimes I look at him and think he has gotten so fat and healthy he could last for years. Other days I look at him and wonder how he is still going. They don’t put animals down here so it may be a long stretch for Brian yet, but he is very happy in the menagerie and much better off than his last home under a car in our street.
Then, when we moved to our new house with a lovely big garden, Marjorie the chicken quickly appeared – inherited from a friend from work. We were meant to be taking two chickens off her hands but one mysteriously disappeared (AKA someone spotted a plump looking hen and plucked her from the garden and onto the BBQ). Marjorie was hand reared and loves people. Most chickens run away when a person walks towards them, but Marjorie comes running!
When you’ve got one chicken, you may as well have a few more… and so five chicks were added to the clutch (yep, that is the collective noun for chickens there people). Unhappy hens don’t lay eggs, and I didn’t want Marjorie to be lonely!
Sadly Lil Benny, the runt of the chicks, didn’t make it very long. I learned an important message there about naming the smallest and cutest of a group of animals… small and cute = runt. Runt = not gonna make it. Lesson learned = lets avoid naming the chickens in future. Also will help if we end up having to eat any of them (clearly Marjorie will not be appearing on the dining table any time soon).
People often ask me what we will do with all of these animals when we finally move home. Luckily for us, home is the UK – and the UK is surprisingly laid back on bringing animals into the country. There are no quarantine requirements if your animal is micro chipped, has all of the necessary injections and a blood test to prove that they are rabies free. The only difficult part is paying to fly them home… we’d better start saving now! Obviously the chickens won’t be coming home with us. Maybe we will have a big leaving BBQ… chicken wing, anyone?
Those of you who have been following the blog from the beginning will remember when I stumbled across a starving kitten under the stairs at school; the rest is history, and Cat is all grown up and doing just fine 🙂
OK, before we get started let me state that I do not go out looking for animals to take in! They just seem to choose to adopt us…
And so, it isn’t that surprising that after a month in our new home, this little guy has turned up on our doorstep. Literally, he’s scaling the ‘cat-proofed’ fence and has taken up residency on our front door step.
He’s missing a few teeth, has fleas, is missing patches of fur, has congealed blood on his face and is a skinny little thing. He’s got bite marks on him but I’m not sure if they are from fighting or just from himself as he’s always biting where the fleas make him itch. He’s smaller than Cat and she is tiny. He makes her look overweight!
Speaking of Cat, she is the main reason that I’m not already off to the vets and welcoming this one into our home. I’m not planning on adopting a second cat but if this one is choosing to camp outside our house then we’re going to have to go and get him cleaned up unless we lock Cat indoors.
An email has been sent to a local animal shelter to see what we can do about getting him sorted out. He probably needs some anti-parasite stuff, needs his skin treated and while we’re at it I’m keen to get him neutered to do our bit towards stemming the ever-growing population of street animals on this island. Also, once neutered, he’s less likely to get into street fights and therefore less likely to get injured.
Once he’s all cleaned up I’ve got no problem with feeding him and giving him some shelter in our front garden, especially with the rainy season around the corner.
I just have to try really hard not to totally take him in. He’s about a year old and has spent that year living on the streets so hopefully he will be content with living outside our house. It’s bad enough having the thought that I have one cat to re-home/take back to the UK with me eventually.
I didn’t even like animals before I came here! Thailand changes you…