A PIg In A Poke

Hello, Dear Readers!  I’ve missed you!

Buying a pig in a poke is a much more descriptive way of saying “caveat emptor”.  In other words, if you’re going to buy a pig in a poke ( a sack or bag), look inside to make sure there’s really a pig in there.  It could be a dog or a cat.  Or, if you’re French, you may be buying un chat en poche, a cat in a pocket.  So the work “poke” has a noble and romantic origin.

Sometimes people buy pigs in pokes on purpose.  You’re enticed to buy some item with the promise of a “mystery basket”.  A $25 value!  When you get it, it contains a box of crayons and a plastic flower.  I don’t know why, but this is clearly a very successful marketing tool.  The allure is the mystery, or the “getting something for nothing”.  Remember being a kid and begging Mom to buy a particular brand of cereal because there was a toy inside?  Collecting box tops and sending them off for a secret decoder ring?  We want to possess the secret.

This brings me to the issue of adopting pets.  When you adopt a kitten or a puppy, or God Forbid, buy one from a pet store,  you are always getting a pig in a poke.  You have no idea what it will grow up to be.  Even if you buy a pet from a responsible breeder, you still have no idea.  You have better clues, because you know the genetics involved, and you can observe the behavior of its relatives, but you could still get the one with one tiny mutation that turns out to cause some disease or psychosis.  The black sheep of the litter, so to speak.

If you are a responsible pet owner, you recognize this on the front end.  Pet ownership is a commitment you make before you ever know how it will turn out.  And you keep it and take care of it no matter what.

And that brings me to Toko.  Toko is the little kitten I got on July 3rd, when he was about 8 weeks old.  Toko is now almost 5 months old.  You may remember that I named him after the Tokoloshe, little demon spirits of the Zulu tribe.  How prophetic that’s turned out to be.

Toko has not quite made the connection between me and the regular food delivery.  He is not a cuddler.  He’s independent to a fault, and is a brave explorer.  He’s quite the instinctive hunter (take so far:  one baby snake).  He has shredded my forearms–my reward for picking him up.  And yet…he’s getting there.  He recognizes and associates me with safety.

This morning, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was Toko, sitting on the windowsill, looking at me…from outside.  Yikes!  So far I’ve been successful at keeping him in the back yard, but all he has to do is climb the fence or climb a tree and jump down on the other side.  I rushed out and saw him sitting on the walkway, practically trembling.  He had bitten off more than he could chew.  I called him, and he came right to me, and I scooped him up.  Just purring then.  No shredding.

Toko is like a Rottweiler in cat’s clothing.  But I’ve been there, done that too.  It took the Rottweiler three years to decide I was okay, I don’t think it will take Toko that long.

Toko is hyperalert, and very smart.  For instance, he’s teaching himself to read.  Upside down, even.

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4 responses to “A PIg In A Poke

  1. I was beginning to wonder whether you had abandoned noble blogging for frivolous Facebook! Don’t succumb to the lure of instant gratification! (LOL!)

    As for pets, my mother had an…interesting… way of obtaining all 22 of our dogs – she rescued them off the street! And few were in good health, which is why she took them off the streets. Just like people, pets “on the streets” often become afflicted with all sorts of psychological and emotional problems and most of ours had one of them: aggression, high strung, apathetic.

  2. No, I have not gone over to the Dark Side, sc 🙂 I just haven’t been in the mood to write. I don’t know why, but sometimes I go through these phases.
    Those poor dogs. If they didn’t have those problems beforehand, living on the streets made them that way. Do they have feral cats in the Philippines? Cats are actually much closer to their roots, and can survive in the wild much better than dogs.

  3. I didn’t realize that you let your cat outside, you are brave/. My new kitty is going to stay an inside cat. That way I won’t worry about her.

  4. My cats are never outside unless I’m home and awake. If I’m at work or out for some other reason, or asleep, they are, as I like to say, inside the walls of the fort. Still, as this story illustrates, they can get away from me and it’s a risk. But I try to keep pretty close supervision, and trust a lot in their natural wariness and speed and love of their homestead to keep themselves out of danger. Cats who are always inside or always outside face different challenges (always outside being the absolute worst). It isn’t perfect, but this is how I choose to do it.

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