Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TTT - 4/26: Kuwait Update Pt. 5

Here we are again. These Tuesdays just keep getting closer and closer together. That's a good thing, I guess, when you are waiting for the day to come when you can go home! I am not the only one away from home this week though...Lynette finds herself in Chicago as of yesterday. But this isn't about Lynette, she can post something if she wants. ;) On with this weeks topic!

So here at Muhammed Al Ahmed Naval Base, or KNB as we call it, there are a variety of "stray" animals. The camp has (or had...I haven't seen him in a couple weeks) a dog that roams around between the buildings and greets people as the day goes by. I even found him as a running partner one night while getting ready for the semi-annual Physical Readiness Test this month. The rumor is that he belongs to some of the Third Country National workers here on base, but no one who is here now can verify that rumor. "Steve" is not the topic of this week's blog though.

There apparently is a rodent problem here on base. So how does one combat such a problem? That's right...cats. The base has cats everywhere! There are cats in the camp, there are cats at the boat house, there are even cats at the other base where our boats operate. All those cats seem to be pretty well fed, yet every night I still see the rodents scurrying around the camp or around other parts of the base. I want to give you information about three very specific cats though. These cats are the BMF cats.

That's right. My shop has three cats "assigned" to it. An Army officer came down about a week after we took over from the last unit to inform us that we are responsible for these cats. This proved fairly interesting to me because when we got our in-brief to the camp, they explicitly explained to us how we don't own the cats and we are NOT to feed the cats. They are purely for rodent control. These things seem to completely contradict one another...The other piece of this strange puzzle to "our" cats is that the last unit bought cat food and stored it in a box where the cats slept (I didn't know this part until later.) This spot also doubled as the smoking area...

So the a few days went by and I noticed the cats, who are normally very skittish and run off when we come around, were inching their way closer and closer to where the guys congregate during the day. I couldn't figure out why...we didn't really pay them much attention since we didn't feed them as instructed. This is when our Navy counterparts told me about the cat food and that we were out. I also had noticed that no one was watering them. I can understand not feeding them, they should hunt for the mice, but they can't get their own water...

After a discussion with our officer regarding the care in which we were supposed to give these cats (and a few cans of tuna later) it was determined that these cats were indeed not to be fed, but watering them was deemed acceptable. We're not in the business of watching cats wither away...then something happened.

I had noticed that one of the orange cats (two orange cats and one white cat with orange patches) went missing. I didn't really think much of it since we weren't feeding them they spent most of the day out, I assume, hunting. Then a couple days later I noticed that none of the cats were around. This was only odd because usually when we arrived in the morning they were just starting to get moving. Again, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into this anomaly because maybe they finally found someone to feed them. Oh well, less focus on the cats, more focus on work. This was a Friday and we take the weekends off unless something comes up. Monday morning rolls around, and still no sign of the cats. Again, no harm no foul, time to get to work.

As I have mentioned, there is a dual bathroom shack in our compound. This is where I noticed something. There were strange noises coming from under the shack...noises I haven't heard in many, many years. There they were...4 kittens and mama! This was the cat I first noticed had gone missing. She had burrowed away under the bathroom to pop out some kittens over the weekend. Now what are we supposed to do? She isn't going to be able to go hunt with kittens and we aren't supposed to feed the cats. As I said before, I'm not in the watching cats die business. So I broke down and got her a can of tuna (that we may or may not have been stashing away for the cats) and I put a bowl of water down for her.

This is where the story sort of winds to a close as well as gets a little sad with a twist of unknown. So Tuesday we had one of our lovely sand storms. So since boats weren't getting underway, we didn't have anything to do so we took the day off. This means no one was down at the shop to keep an eye on the cat situation from our side. There were a couple Navy guys that made the venture in the bad weather, but they stayed inside as much as possible. Wednesday I strolled in to the shop and went straight to where the kittens were at when I last saw them on Monday...gone! And the mama cat had also disappeared. Did she move them during the storm, did someone come and snatch them up while no one was around, or did the unspeakable happen and they all died?! Well, I can't speak for 3 of the 4 kittens, but one of our Navy friends said he saw the white and orange cat come back earlier that morning...with a kitten. :( The next day we saw the mama cat wandering around looking somewhat frantic, but we weren't sure if she was looking for kittens or food. That was the last we saw of any of the cats for a little while, that was two weeks ago.

Now, the next Wednesday the mama cat came strolling through the shop again. This time she wasn't frantic, but she was clearly hungry as she made her way through the trash cans as per normal. This started to become a daily occurrence and I watched her retreat to the junk yard across the street from our shop. I still don't know the outcome of the other three kittens so I guess it's possible she has them in the junk yard, but no one really knows for sure. Thursday on her daily stroll through the shop, the white and orange cat came back. It was not a friendly reunion...they fought under one of the boat trailers in the shop before we left for lunch...it wasn't a long fight though. By the end of Friday I had seen all three of "our" cats. None of them are living in the shop anymore, but they still seem to come scrounging for food in our garbage cans. We don't eat at the shop so I don't really know what they think they'll find.

Today one of the guys felt sorry for mama cat and opened up a can of tuna for her. She is looking pretty thin. She devoured the tuna in a matter of minutes. In a discussion we were having about the cats while we watched her from afar we determined that everywhere else on base we see these fat cats roaming around (not from rodents of course,) and then there are these three. Charged to us by some misfortune of their fate, forced to live off of rodents that clearly don't exist in our area since they have to have been living off of something! They wouldn't be able to roam to a different portion of the base though as the stronger, rounder cousins would probably kill them...

Pretty macabre, but such is the life of the BMF cats! That wraps it up this week. I'm not sure what else to talk about now. I know no one wants to hear about broken boats and us fixing them. ;)

I'll keep the alarm on...I can probably spew forth some nugget to share with you all next week. Maybe I'll talk about the barbecue on Friday at the beach...Stay tuned, and I'll see you next week!

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