Here’s the first of what I intend to be a regular on this blog, a direct response to the requests for “more cute cat photos” from various friends:
I bring you the Global Cat-alogue, a place where you can read about felines from all around the world, their habits, food preferences, and occasionally their humans. These posts will continuously be updated, and I welcome input from readers who might be able to contribute a cat profile.
First up is Katzakhstan, which coincides with my time in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Let’s meet some feline representatives from this part of the world, and see what life is like for them.
Katka the Koshka
Katka resides on a small, fence-enclosed grassy patch behind a kiosk at the corner of a cross road in a Tashkent suburb. Inside the kiosk, her human, a butcher, works to earn his living and pay for the upkeep of Katka, hacking away at meat to meet the exigencies of his regular customers. He doesn’t resemble the stereotypical butcher; relatively short and slim, with an amicable face. No one would suspect that his bloody kiosk also doubles up as a money exchange bureau.
Meanwhile, Katka sleeps, curled up in a ball in the long green grass, in the shade of a cherry blossom tree. Having acquired a butcher, she can be picky when it comes to food, her favourite is kidney and she won’t eat anything else. Her rich, high cholesterol diet does little to aid physical activity; most of her daylight hours are whiled away in slumber.
This pair are experiencing a transition stage, no longer kittens, yet still not quite fully grown cats. Their mother lives with them and is less scared of the dogs chained up in the garden, though they the siblings are rapidly gaining independence. These cats live a good life, residing primarily in a kitchen and sitting room, which constitutes a building in itself, separate from the rest of the house.
Their human, Lyudmila Ten, is Uzbek-Korean; her family were deported from east Russia in 1937 as part of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing process and initially forced to make a new home for themselves in rural, desertic Kazakhstan. Lyudmila relocated to a village near Tashkent in Uzbekistan, which she prefers given the more fertile land and better opportunities. She still speaks the local Korean dialect. The siblings don’t, but they manage to communicate with Lyudmila in other ways, keeping her company, dining with her and eating the remains of the Uzbek national dish, plov.
Squatters of the Abandoned Masjidi
Bukhara’s old town constitutes an intricate system of narrow, dusty alleyways which pose a challenge to ordinary orientation; every so often you turn a corner and are met with the sight of an imposing, awe-inspiring madrasah, embellished muqarnas shimmer in the bountiful light that graces this part of the earth. What was once an important cultural centre for Islamic theology during the Medieval period and a major stop on the Silk Road now lies somewhat forgotten, gathering dust while those with a burning sense of wanderlust seek out undiscovered places elsewhere to no avail.
The feline species was as much at home here as it probably was during the golden age of Ancient Egypt, a friend to man for its ability to deter vermin. Now the feline kind patrol the ruins, perusing the space between their seemingly arbitrary territorial borders and expanding their network, a mutually beneficial objective for both man and cat.
One local craftsman has taken it upon himself to provide nourishments to the many friendless cats which recognise his home as a part of his territory and take shelter in the abandoned courtyard of the Xoja Porso Masijidi.