Straight away, that first summer, I thought ÇıtÇıt (pronounced as ‘chut-chut’) was the coolest cat of the whole bunch. His name was chosen haphazardly, by a student of his owner. It translates as ‘snap button’, which is not immediately obvious for a cat with such a soft and fluffy fur.
At that moment of our first acquaintance, he was on a strict diet of a specific dry food, after having suffered from kidney stones. The regimen had some serious implications for him: in order to monitor him, he was not allowed outside for a full week.
A full week! That is an incredibly long time for the coolest cat of the island of Büyükada, situated in the Marmara Sea, at a stone’s throw from Istanbul. He valued his freedom to come and go as he wished above everything. But as he was a big softie by heart, he didn’t even protest that much and only tried to escape every now and again. In case he succeeded, it wasn’t even that hard to catch him again.
The end of the treatment was received with a big relief. Finally, he was able to go wherever he wanted again: outside! Luckily, the imposed confinement didn’t lead to mistrust. He was still around a lot, as one of his favourite hang-outs was on top of the screen that hung over the court yard adjacent to the kitchen.
The reason that he was the coolest cat in the island in my eyes, was that he always seemed to be his own cat. Very purposeful, never a sign of stress. There was also something about the way he communicated. Full of self-confidence. If I was busy in the kitchen, a simple ‘meow’ would suffice to let me know he was around and open the door for him; his sound was different from all the others. No need to check if it was really him! Sometimes, he didn’t say anything at all. He would just sit on the wall opposite of the kitchen door, patiently waiting for me to notice him.
In spite of being a gib, he wasn’t afraid of any of the other cats. Not even the big intact males that lived in the back garden! He would look straight at them whenever he walked by them; they never even stood in his way. The other cats of the household of eight, he would meow briefly at in passing as if he was saying hello. The kittens that lived behind the kitchen however, would occasionally receive a corrective tap if they annoyed him too much. He would growl or hiss at them while he was at it, so his intention was quite clear!
Due to his soft and fluffy fur, ÇıtÇıt had a very cuddly appearance. He never seemed to care that much, but as it seemed, he awarded me for all my care by allowing me to give him some fuss every now and again. Whatever rocks your boat lady!
This is how I remember him, after his meal: out of the kitchen door, down the stairs and into the garden. Without a second glance.