Friday, February 18, 2005


My mother has five cats in her house, as well as a varying number of feral strays she feeds in the backyard. When my father passes away, I'm sure she'll become one of those "cat ladies."

Awhile back one of the friendlier outdoor cats gave birth to her first litter of kittens no less than two feet from my mom's back door. Mom made a house for her and the new babies on the deck out of a cardboard box, some old towels and some packing tape. I was home for a visit before their eyes were even open, and my inner brat
had a field day, latching onto any available opportunity to handle the little fuzz-budgets.

"You leave those kittens alone! She's going to move them to the garage if you keep it up."
"But mo-om, I'm just checking to see whether they're boys or girls."
ad infinitum . . .

Momma cat did not move the kittens, in spite of my pestering. She and my mother proceeded to raise all four kittens until they were old enough to give away to real homes. And then momma moved from her box on the deck into mom's house.

One of the kittens ended up going home with Pukka. He said he didn't know if he could have a cat. He said he wasn't sure he wanted one. He kept reminding me he was allergic. But I took him outside and deposited the little furballs in his arms, one by one, until I saw the look that told me we were going to become a three cat family.

Two years and a little more later, and we still refer to him as "the kitten." (Sometimes I go as far as "momma's little baby," but he'd prefer we not speak of that.) Frequently, his name is expanded to "the gorram kitten. Occasionally, he's actually called by his name, which is Twiglet.

Despite our best efforts, the kitten is a biter. He doesn't listen and he's got a bit of an attitude. We think he may be part of the kitten mafia. We plan to try again with a dog, but people, if we don't do any better with the canine, we will never be having children.

On weeknights, Pukka goes to bed first, and the kitten follows shortly thereafter. By the time I make my way to our bed, I usually find not only a snoring husband but the kitten lounging on my pillow. It's aggravating, and not really all that conducive to me getting to sleep in any sort of reasonable time period since I always feel guilty clearing my spot by virtue of my greater mass and use of opposable thumbs.

Then one night I stepped into the darkness of our bedroom and was feeling around for my pajamas when the kitten opened his eyes sleepily from the nest of my pillow and reached out one paw as if to touch my face. I melted. Since that night, the kitten on my pillow was there waiting for me, not stealing my spot.

Pukka still snores though.