Today I want to talk about my kitties. It’s not exactly a weekend blog, and yet…
Four-plus years ago, our elderly diabetic kitty, Drake, passed away at the vet’s, leaving a hole in our lives. It took us about a month to fill that hole with two baby fluffballs from Craigslist who, after a little bit of consideration, we named Oligarchy and Theocracy (Oli and Theo).
A year later, my husband, T., found three kittens in the hedgerow: an all black one who was terrified of humans, a grey-and-white one with a bowtie on her head, and a black-and-white one. The bowtie kitty was very friendly, to the point of letting me pick her up, and, for a few weeks, the three of them were hunting the hedgerow and fields near our house.
The cow farm to one side had a black-and-white barn cat; a block and a half away lived a big black tomcat who liked to range far and wide. It wasn’t hard to figure out their antecedents.
I tell myself stories about there the other two kittens ended up. I tell myself someone took them in, or picked them up and took them to our local no-kill shelter. They were handable, nearly tame. It’s possible.
The little black one, though, she hung around. She would yell at T. from the hedgerow — nervous about his presence but ready to talk to him. She’d eat out of our compost bin, especially meat scraps*. I started putting kibble out for her; I started cooking the poultry scraps and leaving them in a bowl for her**.
T. did the hard work. He talked to her, he waited patiently nearby while she ate; he moved closer slowly, a day at a time, until she’d let him pet her.
The weather got colder; she got more friendly. “I could come inside,” she seemed to be saying. “It looks nice there.”
We called the vet; they had policies in place for ‘we need to make an appointment but we’re not sure we can get her in a cage.” After all that, it turned out to be easy; we scooped her up, put her in the carrier, and left her at the vets for three days.
She was clean, she was healthy, she had none of the awful things barn cats can get except one tick, and we had her spayed. We brought her home, brought her inside, and introduced her to the boys.
We’d been calling her Sullivan, because my dad has an all-white barn cat named Gilbert. But she was, well, she, and being inside, she needed a family name: Meritocracy. She kept the Sullivan as a surname, O’Sullivan, so I have more to use to scold them. (The boys are McNamerras. I don’t really know why.)
But this was supposed to be about now, present-time. Our little feral cat, our scared-to-talk-to-humans kitten, who would stand in the hedgerow and yell at us: “Put down the food and back away slowly!”, our spooked kitty who wasn’t sure she wasn’t still feral…
“Nap time, Merit,” I tell her, and she hurries over to lay down next to me and sleep, waiting until I’ve petted her behind the ears for a minute.
“Hey, human, I think I’m hungry.” She crawls onto my lap — laptop or no — and headbutts me until I pet her. Once she’s napped for a few minutes, she’ll repeat the process, until I get up and feed her.
And when I found a different place to chill with the laptop last night than the chair I normally share with her, she came over to join me, looking quite put out and, at the same time, quite determined to be with her human.
I love my little feral cat. I just wanted to say that.
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