***This post involves two dead cats and two live cats. Do what you must.
This post originally started like this:
My mom’s calico named…wait for it!….Calico adopted us and became the porch and garden cat. She showed up, worked her magic, claimed her territory, and promptly dropped kittens all over the damn place.Calico came from the outdoors, she was allegedly going to stay in the outdoors. Then once upon a time it got too cold and she manuevered her way in to the house, becoming MomBert’s garden helper, just hanging out in the flowers and doing perimeter checks when Mom worked outside.
Calico was a badass huntress, thrilling in the pursuit of smaller furry creatures. It was hard to convince her to come out of the garden when she was in a staring contest with the air conditioning unit that a chipmunk just fled beneath. (Oh the shame of being bodily carried inside when she was sure there were rodent eyes observing her from their safe havens.) Despite her ability to track, scurry, and stare without blinking, Calico’s actual catches have been few over the years.
Until this summer.
Even though she had some health issues and was something like 5 million years old in people years, Calico stepped up her game. Whether she honed her technique, worked on her speed, or finally just decided that the shit got real, the body count increased.
Her count for the summer was 4 dead shrews. (Yes, we’re sure they are shrews and totally had family argument about it.) like a Great White emerging from the darkness of the depths, she was a silent and efficient killing machine. One moment all was normal, the next she’s offering up a dead shrew that has been soaked in cat drool. No eating, just drooling.She also defeated her arch nemesis, accomplishing her life long goal of catching , possibly the world’s largest, chipmunk. There was discussion of taxidermy. Hello, Christmas stocking. And then I went home for a weekend….
Calico had deteriorated since I had last seen her. She still wanted pets and to go outside, but she moved like the little old ladies in the nursing home. It looked like everything hurt. A once hefty 15 pounds, she now felt lighter than my 8 pound Olivia.
Over breakfast in the garden, my mom asked me what she should do for Calico. Having made that decision twice for my own pets, I know it’s something that you have to decide for yourself when your furry friend can longer function and is in constant pain. I may have cried a good part of the two hour drive back to my house.
But after I left….
My mom said that an hour after I left, she heard frantic kitten cries from behind her garage. She and my sister tracked the kitten through the woods, following its cries. However it was too skittish to let them get close. Two days later, Mom was finally able to live trap the kitten and bring her in to the shed.Later that week, Calico couldn’t breath and Mom made the drive to the vet for her friend. The series of text messages that I opened when I checked my phone at school was a mixture of the news about Calico passing and OMG LOOK AT THE KITTEN! There were students around me at the time so I tried to focus on the OMG LOOK AT THE KITTEN! part. No crying in front of teenagers unless I really have to. They smell weakness.
I explained about Calico and about the appearance of the kitten, adding that my ever practical mother had already put a lost kitten ad in the paper even though the universe was clearly trying to tell her something. One student exclaimed, “That’s a God given kitten!” And GGK was christened.
However I convinced my mom…
I convinced my mother that GGK could use a friend and that this was the optimal time to introduce her to one.
Enter George.George was just ‘ittle. He barely weighed a pound and may have been 5 weeks old. He toddled on ‘ittle legs as GGK ran circles around him and tackled him. I squealed when I met him and giggled when he climbed me like a tree. George loved a good cuddle, sitting on shoulders or on knees looking like a tiny owl. I cupped him in my hands for an hour while he napped. I think he liked the warmth. Because he also ended up napping in my bra and it’s really warm in there. And if you are reading carefully, you may have noticed the use of the past tense.
A few days later, I once again got a text message in the middle of the day at work. George had died in the night. Mom put him to bed in her bathroom- he was still learning about litter boxes- with his blankie and stuffed lion, but he was gone in the morning. He was just too ‘ittle.
Why do we do this to ourselves?Still advocating… the second live cat.
GGK looked for George for a while and then she went back to running laps on the ceiling and, for lack of a kitty friend, chewing on mom. I tried to be sensitive, but it still seemed that she needed a buddy especially when my mom was gone on the weekends.
Mom was torn. This was a lot of cat drama and trauma in a short amount of time. And what if… What if another kitten was like George and not meant to survive?
Finally after one too many kitten nibbles, and watching GGK frantically run in circles, she sent me on a scouting mission. There did not seem to be any available kittens near her and kitten season was winding down.
The trick was finding an available kitten close to GGK’s age (13 weeks-ish) and size (just under 3 pounds). I found Twilla. She ran her purr motor and tried to put her head in my mouth. Sold!
I “reserved” Twilla since Mom’s application would not kick in for two more days on Saturday. That Saturday, I overwhelmed my mom with cats at the shelter. She met Twilla; but kept her options open, meeting and squeezing all the other kittens. We watched a couple cuddle Twilla; but Mom, holding a different kitten didn’t intervene with their bonding. After two hours of agonizing and kitten squeezing, she circled back to Twilla.
Clearly tired of this bullshit, Twilla pulled out her A-game. Not only did she go for the shoulder, she snuggled up and wrapped her tail around her little toes.When the universe gives you a kitten, you need to listen. The process is not always easy or kind, but it’s worth listening to.
Updated: GGK and Tilly now up for cuddle naps.