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I first met al-Zill in early May 2007 when he began visiting my patio for a free meal. A petite cat at the time, I suspect he was no more than a year old.
He was skittish and reserved, a shadowy figure who often appeared and disappeared in absolute silence. He also made certain never to get too near or to allow me to get too near. Not feral in the sense of being a wild cat, my impression of him was such that he was a new pet and either got dumped or lost in the first year of his life.
He and Larenti would spend time together on the patio without any cross words. In fact, al-Zill seemed very interested in having feline friends and rubbed against the windows when any of The Kids came into view.
al-Zill disappeared for a brief time before showing up again with a tipped ear. He had been captured and fixed by the local group that cares for the resident cat population. None the worse for wear after his ordeal, I immediately noticed his personality had mellowed and he had become extremely interested in befriending me. From that point forward, he showered me with all sorts of affection and received the same.
He then disappeared again for a few months. Upon his return in February 2008, my worst fears were realized. He was wounded so severely that a gaping, bleeding, puss-covered mess engulfed the entire left side of his head in front of the ear. Another less severe wound on the back of his neck and a newly dislocated jaw made clear he had been attacked by a large animal, probably a coyote or dog. He now despises canines and fears them with an amplified terror that brings chills to my spine each time I see it manifest.
I cared for his wounds and ensured he always had food, water and shelter. The signs of neurological damage from the attack presented as falling, unsteady legs, an inability to run from time to time, and other various symptoms. He could never survive outside, not in such a state that left him easy prey. It was then I decided he would be adopted either by me or by someone else. Eventually that task fell to me despite my reservations about having seven cats.
An extremely sweet cat with a friendly disposition, al-Zill’s integration with The Kids has thus far gone smoothly despite the brain damage he suffered during his attack (veterinary testing confirmed a dangerous skull fracture beneath the wound that likely caused some bone material to impact his brain). He will find his place in the pecking order just as Larenti before him and Vazra before that.
Pronunciation: all ZIHL
Namesake: al-Zill is Arabic for “the Shadow”; see this post for a brief explanation
Relationship: Adoptive brother to The Kids with no blood ties
Nicknames: Little Terrorist; Biter
Breed: Domestic Short Hair (DSH)
Birthdate: July 2006
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He quickly realized he was safe.
His longing for outside vanished quickly; now he just appreciates it like all good cats do.
Sitting on the cat tree beside the bed.
Lying in a pool of sunshine.