Sunday, November 17, 2013

Goodbye Kitten

Dance like no one is watching
Tomorrow is Hobbes' 1st birthday. Smokey was happy as an "only" kitty as long as he could take a walk in the hallway several times a day, greet all the neighbours and their four-leggers as they came and went, sniffed and played "touch paws" with four-leggers who were inside their own units when we passed.

But then a tenant moved in down the hall with a pit bull who does not like kitties, and overnight Smokey's world got a lot smaller. No more walks in the hallway, since the pit bull is not well-controlled by its person, and we were afraid for Smokey's health and well-being, even his life, if the dog got hold of him. As the weeks went by Smokey became despondent. He would not play. He sat by the door and cried. He scratched endlessly. He was depressed.

We started thinking about what to do. We would have liked a small older dog which was pad-trained, since he likes dogs, but we couldn't find one without dire health or emotional problems. We were afraid to get an adult cat, since the last thing we wanted was a cat who would come in and exert dominance over the placid and somewhat timid Smokey. We decided we needed a kitten.

After several weeks of looking we found a litter of kittens born 18th November, ready for new homes. So on January 5th, we bought an eight week old kitten - two pounds of attitude in orange stripes - as playmate and brother for Smokey.

Hobbes "Looking bigger" as he meets Smokey
We were a bit apprehensive about introducing him to Smokey. Would Smokey be aggressive? We needn't have worried. It was love at first sight. Smokey wanted to "mother" the baby as soon as he laid eyes on it. The little one looked at the huge furball arched his back and hissed.

Smokey looked at me with big worried eyes as if to ask, "Why's he doing that Mama?"

 "It's to make him looking bigger, honey."

"Well, it's not working!"

Day Two
So Smokey did the sensible thing. He turned his back to the kitten and laid down. No confrontation, no reaction at all. By the next morning it was nose-to-nose and paws around corners and at some point the kitten couldn't resist the urge to play. Soon they were tumbling around, with Smokey as gentle as feathers. And Smokey, understanding the kitten was missing his Mama something awful, let the kitten nurse his little nubs of nipple until they were raw and all scabbed over. 

We tried calling the kitten Salvador Two (Saltwo) for the first few months, but he wouldn't answer to that name. He would have none of being second anything. So, being big Calvin and Hobbes fans, and as the little beast is always in trouble, we renamed him Hobbes. That he answered to immediately, so I guess he knew who he was from the first, we just had to figure it out.

Now despite a bucket of bone-fide cat toys the house looks like a garbage dump because his favourite toys are plastic forks and knives from the Thai take-out, pop bottle caps, straws, a plastic bag from Jysk, cardboard boxes, dishtowels he steals off the fridge door handle and the sofa cushions.

Hobbes at 12 weeks
I swear he and Smokey are going to knock the pictures off the walls they play so hard. The cat tree sheds great honking loads of carpet fibre every day because they rip it off chasing each other up and down.

Hobbes is a hair puller - he grabs a mouthful of Smokey's three-inch-long wool and yanks it out by the roots. This (understandably) gets Smokey riled up. He corners Hobbes and beats the tar out of him, though for all the screaming and squalling I've never found a scratch or bite on either of them.

On the other hand I am covered with scratches as I am often part of the obstacle course as they hurtle around after each other.

A few days ago while running from Smokey Hobbes jumped onto the table by my chair, skidded and knocked several things off into the garbage can. Made a heck of a noise. He leapt about a foot straight up and came down on my face, all claws extended. So I'm missing a few divots of skin on my face and neck.

My yelling, "You are the reason Vogue hasn't called me to model for them!" while washing blood off my face doesn't impress him any more than screaming, "You're the reason we can't have nice things!" when he drags the sofa cushions onto the floor, climbs the shower curtain and unpots my one houseplant onto the kitchen floor.

Got'cher back Jack!
But he's learning. Up until a couple of months ago he hadn't learned how to tell me politely when he was hungry. He'd jump into my lap, grab a hand with all four clawed feet and start trying to rip the flesh from my fingers. Now he just jumps in my lap and hops up and down on my boobs. It's uncomfortable, but not as much as the claws and teeth routine.

But despite being a bit of a barbarian he's very sweet. He's a cuddler, he's a kisser, he never bites out of temper and until you've seen a kitten carrying a plastic fork in his mouth like it was a prize hunting trophy you haven't lived.

He's definitely the most rambunctious, high-spirited kitten we've ever raised, and tomorrow he turns one. Hard to believe that 10 months has gone by so swiftly. Time does fly when you're having fun. But now - no more kitten. Now a cat.

 Happy Birthday Hobbes! May you have at least 20 more!

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