Adoption by Dr. DebraI’m posting my first ever blog. (At least I hope I’ll be posting it. I haven’t figured out how to post yet.)
For a week now I’ve been a mommy to two cats, which is a new experience for me. I’d been catless for a while, when I acquired Nicky. I was attending my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting, and our bookseller had brought in a crate of feral kittens she’d rescued when they’d been abandoned by their mother at age two weeks.
When I caught sight of the four-week-old babies, I opened the crate and started handing them out to the other women standing around me. I kept the littlest one for myself, intending to play with him for a few minutes, then give him to someone else. But I never put him down. He was a tiny gray, white, and black tabby who barely fit in the palm of my hand. His eyes still had a blue tint. During the meeting he contentedly stayed on my lap or snuggled against my shoulder. I even took him with me to the podium when I had to announce the speakers.
By the end of the meeting, all the kittens were adopted, including mine. My friends said I had to name him after one of my heroes, so I chose Nick, the hero from my first book, Wild Montana Sky. But Nick was much too big of a name for my little mite, so I named him Nicky.
At home, I was an anxious new mother. I’d never had a kitten this young before. Concerned about him suffering trauma from separating from his siblings and foster mother after having been abandoned by his birth mother, I took him everywhere with me. By day, he was constantly in my lap. If I ran an errand, he went with me in my purse--content to lie quietly and watch me. I took him to work with me, after calling all my clients and verifying that none were allergic to cats. I even took him with me to the karate studio, tucking him into a fold of my uniform when I was teaching, or handing him over to the plethora of volunteers who wanted to hold him for me.
I made a mistake, though. I kept tickling his tummy, and letting him bat my fingers away and gnaw on me. He had the cutest tummy, just perfect for tickling. I didn’t know until a friend told me that you are NOT supposed to pet kittens on their stomach. It stimulates them to do the above behavior, cute when they are kittens, but not so cute when they are big. Inadvertently, I’d created a cat who bites.
After two weeks, Nicky became more adventurous, and started exploring the house. He quickly learned to dig his claws into the couch or my bedspread and, like a mountain climber, claw his way to the top.
By two months, my sweet baby had become a BOY, and my legs had the scratches to prove it. He loved to run and jump on me. He just wasn’t big enough to jump all the way into my lap, so he thought what would work on the couch would work on me. When I had him for three months, I looked like I had been in a fight with a dozen rosebushes and lost. Luckily he outgrew this stage, but he never stopped the biting.
He loved to be stroked when HE was in the mood for it. At least once a day, he’d jump on my lap and demand attention. But if I tried to pet him when I wanted, he wouldn’t tolerate it too long before biting me. Do you know how hard it is to have a cat that you can’t pet? Fluffy cat fur is made for running your fingers over. And that purr...☺ Nicky’s was loud and rumbly. He’d be purring away, seemingly happy, then he’d bite me. I learned to watch his ears.
Nicky also loved to race around the house, improving his jumping skills on the furniture. No amount of “NO” or using the squirt bottle would stop him. He never seemed to learn the meaning of the word, NO, even though he certainly heard it enough. He loved water and thought I was playing with him. I gave up after scooping him off the bathroom counter three times, then when he curled up in the sink, and I turned the water on him, he just looked up at me and didn’t move. So my cat jumps on counters and tables, shreds paper, splashes the water in his bowl all around, crumples rugs, knocks over the bar stools.... Sigh.
You get the picture. Nicky turned into the cat who no one but his mommy loved. He was banished from my mother’s after knocking over one of her prize vases. Luckily, it didn’t break, or I might have been banished, too. One of my vases and a glass candlestick weren’t so lucky. It’s sort of like that saying that the shoemaker’s children don’t have shoes. Well the therapist’s child is poorly behaved.
My Nicky--a biting, wild, little fiend whom I loved. He followed me everywhere, wanting to be with me. Friends urged me to get a second cat, saying he needed company. But my mind boggled at the idea of two.
Then I spent most of a weekend away at a conference, and I fretted about him being home so much alone. When my friend, Elda, called to tell me about a stray who needed a home, I was ready to listen.
Elda said this kitten was white with a blue eye and a gold eye. My last two cats were white, and one was an odd-eyed cat, so it seemed that adopting this kitten might be fated. She was described as sweet and affectionate and about five months old. I made an impulsive decision to take her--sight unseen. The next day, she was dropped off.
She was filthy, and I gave her a bath right away. Once dry and clean, she proved to be short-haired, but fluffy, lean, with a narrow head, pink ears, and the sweetest expression. She had the lightest brush of black on the top of her head. I named her Lily.
At first nine-month-old Nicky wasn’t pleased by the interloper on his territory. He hissed and circled around her, keeping about a yard away. But he kept her in sight, obviously fascinated. They chased each other around the house, jumping on the furniture. But the sounds they made sounded only mildly threatening, and sometimes playful. I noticed that she had some of the same fighting mannerisms as he did, and I wondered if, instead of her sweetness rubbing off on him, his fiendishness was catching. Nicky was bigger, but Lily seemed to have street smarts, and not only could hold her own, many times she was the instigator.
That afternoon, I realized my sweet little girl, was a BOY, and I had to come up with a name change. Lily became Pippin.
I noticed that I was torn between wanting to pay attention to Nicky and let him know that mommy still loved him, and at the same time wanting to make sure my new baby knew he was loved and welcome--the second child syndrome. But luckily my two children became comfortable with each other and started playing together, and so I only struggled with this for a few days.
I’ve had fun watching them wrestle together. Pippin has filled out and is more a match for my fat Nicky. There have been times when they’ve curled up together and chewed on each other’s paws. Once I saw Nicky wash Pippin’s face. How sweet.
Nicky has stopped biting me as much, but he’s also stopped coming to me for attention, although he enjoys being petted when I go to him. He also doesn’t come to greet me when I get home. Pippin does though. I find I miss my baby. Pippin is the one who’s been staying close. (He’s sleeping on my desk as I write this.)
After only one night of all of us sleeping together, the cats have chosen to spend their nights downstairs.
Will Nicky’s relationship with me change again? Will the novelty of having a brother wear off, and he will once again seek out his mommy? I hope so. Maybe one of these days, the three of us will start curling up together. But if not, I know Nicky’s happier having company, Pippin has a loving home, and that’s what’s important.