A Hanoi Story: Who sterilized my cat? by mattsteinglass
August 12, 2009, 11:58 am
Filed under: Vietnam

So you know those scaaaary movies where somebody responds to an ad for a job opening, shows up for the interview, and the next thing they know they’re waking up in a seedy hotel room with a line of stitches where one of their kidneys used to be? Okay: in late June my family and I left our Hanoi home for a vacation in Europe. We left our 6-month-old male cat, Blacktop, in the care of our kids’ beloved nanny Dung. She and her young daughter took good care of him, but 6 days before I returned (a week ahead of my wife and kids), Blacktop didn’t come home. It wasn’t the first time he had wandered off, but it had never been longer than 2 nights before. This time he seemed well and truly gone.

I figured that, being a young male cat, he had wandered off for a few days in search of female companionship, and that someone had then caught and eaten him. People do that in Vietnam. It’s a reason not to have cats. Nonetheless, we put up some signs around the neighborhood displaying a touching photo of my daughter with Blacktop, and asking in Vietnamese and English, “Have you seen my cat?” After 2 more weeks went by with no response, I assumed Blacktop was gone or dead, and we started working out plans for another cat.


Sasha and Blacktop

Sasha and Blacktop


Then 2 days ago, I got a call on my mobile from two foreigners in the neighborhood. A pair of Vietnamese girls had shown up at their door, for some reason, with Blacktop, looking to return him. I rushed over. Sure enough, it was him. Our kids were overjoyed, and I made plans to have him neutered so he wouldn’t waltz off looking for a lady friend anymore.

This morning I took him to the vet, and left him there to get anaesthetized and operated on. An hour later I get a call: he’s already been neutered. Wherever he was for the past 3 weeks, his host had gone to the trouble of castrating him.

A few more details have since emerged. We called up the girl who’d returned him and asked whether we could come over and give them a thank-you gift. She said she preferred we not come by. Why? It seems she wasn’t the person he’d been staying with. Rather, the returner was the best friend of a girl who’d plucked him off the streets 3 weeks earlier. This kidnapper had apparently decided to keep him — he may have wriggled out of his collar and tag, it’s not clear — and had gone ahead and castrated him (incompetently; the vet had to fix some things). The returner, however, had once had a beloved dog stolen, and decided to re-kidnap the cat from her best friend and return it to the owner, who she figured lived in our neighborhood. She hadn’t told her friend about this, and she didn’t want us showing up to thank her because then her friend would know what had happened.

This is in many ways a deeply Vietnamese story, but I don’t think I actually understand it very well so I won’t try to elaborate. Basically I’m glad Blacktop is back.


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