Introducing Mr Lyle Alzado

Soon after I moved to Beijing, I brought over my cat Clyde. About halfway through my time there, Clyde died. The vet, seeing how distraught I was, gave me one of her personal cats (Xiao Mao). When my family moved back to the US, we brought Xiao Mao with us. Xiao Mao died here in the middle of July. The wife and I decided we were done with cats for awhile.

Then, we saw this:

Which led to this:

And this:

And, well, this:

Lyle is a seven-year-old American short-hair. Although big boned by nature, we’ve got him on a diet. The vet said that he was about 12 pounds when he last came into the shelter (he’s been there a couple of times), but is now around 16 pounds.

We’ve had him for a bit over two weeks, and he’s fitting in just fine. Leo (our Shih Tzu) is now well aware that Lyle outweights him and has claws. Leo actually likes cats, and I think missed having Xiao Mao around.

When they were taking my name for the adoption, they found that I was already in the system… turns out I adobted Blue (Siamese-mix whom I adored) 16 years ago.


Introducing Su Xiao Jian

Awhile back, when we were dropping Leo off at one of the neighborhood veterinarian shops to have his bi-weekly bath, Shanshan and I saw a very pretty cat who was in a cage with bandages around her midsection. It  turns out that she was a stray/homeless cat that had been recently neutered, after being brought in by a group of neighborhood grandmothers who took care of cats in our community.

The grandmothers put their money together and split the cost with the veterinarian. (A bit later, we also saw grandmothers from another group at the other veterinarian that we frequent… Shanshan told me that grandmothers banding together in Beijing communities to provide these and other services is not uncommon.)

Shanshan made a passing comment about how it would be nice if we could take her home, and, well, a few days later she was with us.

As far as her name goes, Su is my Chinese family name, Xiao means “small”, and Jian means “is friendly to everyone”.

In the last photo, you’ll notice some raccoon-like striping  toward the end of her tail. Xiao Mao, our other cat, also has similar markings. I think it’d be interesting to see some genetic mappings of cats in Beijing.

Oh, a bit about the cost of adopting Xiao Jian… there wasn’t any. Shanshan told me that if Xiao Jian hadn’t been adopted, the grandmothers would’ve returned her to where she was taken, and would continued to take care of her there.

Xiao Mao and Leo

Xiao Mao and Leo.

Xiao Mao, whose name translates to Little Cat*, joined us in November of 2010. He’s now about three years old. My cat Clyde had died the previous month, and our neighborhood vets (whom we referred to as “The Koreans”) gave him to us soon after. They could tell how devastated we were about Clyde. Xiao Mao had grown-up with five dogs, so we were pretty sure that he’d get along with Leo… which is important, since Leo wants to investigate and then befriend any type of animal he encounters. Xiao Mao had been described over the phone as being female. I had further pictured him being, well, flat-faced and skinny. Nothing against female flat-faced skinny cats, but they just ain’t my cup of tea. When I met him, and found he was anything but, I was ecstatic. Big-boned and right about the same size as my beloved Blue (who died a bit over seven years ago).

Leo, dear Leo, is coming-up on seven years old. My ex-wife and I had been babysitting Leo’s mother (who was pregnant with Leo at the time) whilst Blue was dying of cancer. I’ve always been a big dog person, but the ex liked Leo’s mom a lot, so I agreed to get him. His name comes from Leo the Lion. ShihTzu means “Lion Dog” in Chinese, so the lion reference was fitting. There have been some wonderful animals in my life over the years, but Leo is at the top of the list. Just a truly wonderful soul.

Their friendship has grown over their time together into what you see below. They also take turns chasing each other through the house. (Leo’s had this trip lately about wanting to “dominate” the cat, to which Xiao Mao has politely reminded him that retractable claws are there for a reason.)

In any event, I feel extremely fortunate to be sharing the apartment with my wife and the two boys.

btw,  it looks like a third cat might be joining us next week… more if it happens.

*his formal name is Mao Zhu Xi, which mean Chairman Cat, and is, of course, a play on Mao (translates to “feather”), which has the same pinyin but a different tone.