One For the Money, Two For the Show, Three to Get Ready…. or, Some Thoughts on Adding a Pair of Kittens to Our Sedate Household!
According to no specific plan, I have been Mom to a series of adult-only cats. Since the deaths of my beloved Simon and Buddy in 1987 (both of whom came to me as babies—Buddy quite literally as the single offspring of Simon the Lynx Point Siamese—and yes, we believed Simon to be male!), I have never had a true kitten to call my own. Sure, I fostered countless bottle babies for both the FAAS shelter in California and for Animal Control here in Bellaire, but all of the wee ones eventually were weaned and moved on to loving families of their own. My resident felines all came to me as adults—Marilyn, age 3; Matisse, age 18; and my current furry bundle, Rocky, who arrived yowling and screeching at the age of one year. In July of this year, however, our collective lives changed quite dramatically with the addition of Max and George—5 week old tabby brothers who came, saw, and conquered our hearts and home.
It’s a tale as old as time, to quote that wise old teapot, and as predictable. One early evening my phone rang. It was my daughter, owner and chef at Moka/Starlight in Bellaire in an uncharacteristic kerfuffle. Could I come NOW and pick up a box of kittens that, as we spoke, were in her kitchen being petted and fed bits of ham by her sympathetic cat-loving staff. Never mind that there was no one to make coffees, serve pizza or pull beers for the actual paying customers, these tiny whimpering guests required immediate, if not sooner, attention. Five minutes later I too was in the kitchen, surrounded by staff members who all wanted to play kitty mom. One young trainee baker in particular was reluctant to hand over the smallest and raggediest of the trio. “I want this one,” he said quietly. “My girlfriend and I have been looking
for a red kitten, and this one is it—his name is Luigi.” Well that said, I packed up the box and took all three frantically squeaking babies out the back door. “You can come by tomorrow and we will talk kittens,” I threw over my shoulder as we hurried to the car. The kittens, two dilute red males and a grey tabby male, were quite a sight—skinny, flea ridden, dirty and starving! Having no actual kitten food in the house, I mashed up some of my Maine Coon, Rocky’s, food with milk replacement and let them go to it. Rarely have I witnessed such a feeding frenzy…eating alone was not enough. This meal required that all four feet be firmly planted on the plate, faces immersed in food, tails quivering and, eventually, an erratic symphony of purrs and squeaks! At about five weeks of age, it was clear that these babies could handle solid food. Bathing, flea spritzing, combing and more dinner ensued. I took a look at these three and said to myself: self, pass them on before you get hooked. Self ignored me and, three days later, we were at the vet getting immunizations and kitty advice. Still I deluded myself into believing that they were temporary guests, and indeed, Luigi soon went home with his adoring parents. A construction worker here at the house implied that he would like “the red one” and so I did nothing to ensure that the babies (as we came to call them) were simply passing through. Now firmly ensconced on our sun-porch, we developed quite a routine. Mostly it consisted of us watching the antics through a window, feeding, cuddling and (lots of) cleaning up. Rocky, the resident grand old man, observed the goings on with a jaded eye and occasional hiss.
Skip ahead two weeks and Iam chastened to report that I turned down offers of help—Mona kindly offered to house the babies at WaLHFMF until they were ready for adoption; several inquiries by staff members at MOKA and, still, our friendly builder who, finally, informed me that he wanted the red one but not the grey. Swallowing my unkind words regarding splitting up this clearly bonded pair, I informed him that I planned to keep Max and George myself. Yes, by then the babies had names! Max because as a true grey tabby, his forehead proudly bears his initial: M. So Max it is. George acquired his name one day when, on the way home from the vet, I stopped by my daughter’s house and she casually informed me that his name is George. Clearly, she was correct (after all, England has a new Prince George—and now, so do we) since he responded immediately to the sound of his new moniker. So, the true old tale played itself out right here under my nose. The “babies” have overtaken both our hearts and the household. Toys abound and food arrives by the crate. One litter box is now three and I am becoming used to stepping on stray pieces of Feline Pine as I exit the shower in my bare feet. Speaking of which, both babies are fascinated by water and I can usually count on company in the bath or shower. Fortunately, the shower is large and the tub surrounded by a safe sitting spot. Even our old curmudgeon, Rocky, is beginning to cave. His look-alike, Max, delights in bounding after Rocky as he makes his daily patrol of the house. At first Rocky responded with a series of hair raising hisses and growls, but just in the last week or so has thrown in the towel and is now satisfied with a jaded look and curled lip. I predict total accession by the end of January. For years, I promised myself that I would resist the urge to bring home my shelter babies. I did pretty well, I think. Now that we are a 3-cat household, I am not sure that I could ever go back to tidy floors and peaceful mornings. Nothing can replace my bundles of purring, furry affection. Christmas indeed came early to our house, and we are looking forward to many more spent cozied up on the couch purring and twitching our whiskers in the sanctuary of a safe and loving home. May the joy of the season bring you and yours a purr in the heart and a warm spot to enjoy your loved ones. See next year at the Center!