Weekly Caturday: Attack of the Cute and Raising Cats in Bishkek

First, the cute:

Because we have slug-cats that sleep more soundly then I did at age two, and spend all of their excess energy chasing plastic bags, their own tales, and mysterious bunches under the blankets.

And the practical: raising cats in Bishkek is easy, a lot easier than I had thought (after having pets in China).

We acquired our cats rather accidentally.  Peter (the long large melancholy cat who fills our house with hair) was spotted by a bus stop one lone and cold winter eve some thee years back.  The shivering kitten was picked up and bundled inside.  He didn’t leave the apartment – or see another cat – for two years.  In the meantime he seemed to have developed a bit of an anxiety complex  and forgotten what it meant to be a cat (he was terrified of everything, anxious every time we left, and indifferently demanding of attention).  So we decided (I decided…) he needed some company.  I have heard that there are some animal shelters in Bishkek; you can also buy cats from select breeders, or [basically] rescue a kitten from the Osh Pet Bazaar. While some of the dogs there are well-bred, come with papers, and can cost several hundred dollars, the kittens are pretty much kept in crates and all go for about 500 som (~$8) each.  Half of them had sick eyes or ear mucus, they were all crawling over each other, and all smelled like urine.  I wanted to adopt all of them.  Instead we picked out half a dozen, checked their health, played with them a bit (and gave them water, as they were all desperately dehydrated), and picked out a ball of black and orange fluff that we were told was a Siberian Forest Cat. Only later did we discover that this is apparently one of the most affectionate, playful, attention-greedy and delightfully kittenish of cat breeds (probably most accurately described as “the most dog-like of cat breeds”. Anyway, Peter calmed down after the initial shock (he was terrified of the kitten for about two weeks), and played a wonderful male mother. Taking care of the cats has also been relatively relaxed.

For Cat Supplies: Narodnie and other franchise grocery stores all carry cat food and often cat litter – though often bottom-end US and German brands at mid-range prices.  Instead we head to Кот и Пёс (“Cat and Dog”) which carries plenty of pet supplies (for cats, dogs, fish, birds and rabbits) and has at least two stores in Bishkek – one on Moscovskaya, and one at Кулатова 11 (heading N from Vefa Center, take the right at the first – 3 way – stop light; shop will be on your L after 1 1/2 blocks, about 1/2 block before Blonder Pub). We usually buy Purina – they sell kitten, adult, sensitive, senior, and about 10 other formulas in bulk for 275 som/kg – about the same price as the cheap-quality cat food at Narodnie.

cat and dog

For the Vet, we take our cats to the clinic at Manas University where experienced veterinarian-teachers guide veterinary students through the process.  Everyone speaks Turkish, the students speak Russian, and some of the vets from Turkey speak English (or at least know technical veterinary terms in English).  Check-ups and operations are free, but you should sometimes watch over the students to make sure they’re doing everything right (and don’t, for example, leave a syringe taped up in your cat’s rear leg).  An Australian zoologist in Bishkek also recommends Dr Pallad at the Dr Zoo clinic on Karl Marx st (https://www.facebook.com/doctorzoo312), which might be a better place to go depending on your language skills.

We plan on bringing out cats with us when we leave.  If we go to Turkey, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem in terms of immunization compliance, as there is a Turkish government university veterinary clinic here (at Manas).  However, each country has a different set of recommendations, and it may be impossible to meet compliance for some countries with the vet clinics in Kyrgyzstan.  If you just want to have a pet while in country, ask around on the Bishkek couchsurfing and internations forums – I know there are some NGOs that place rescued animals in foster homes.

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