Other Cool Things
While feeding the stray “front porch” kitties one morning, I saw a pair of eyes looking at me between the deck boards. The eyes were under the deck. As I continued sprinkling dry food on the deck, a small gray paw reached through the boards and clawed at some food, which disappeared between the crack.
I carefully poured some food between the crack and could see a small gray furry creature.
Going inside, I grabbed a bowl, put some dry cat food inside of it, and returned to the porch. Stepping down, I placed the bowl on the ground, after shaking it.
“Kitty! Here kitty!”
A moment later a gray head with white markings craned itself from under the deck.
The gray kitten stared at me, then went to the food. Carefully, I reached out to pet it. It immediately started purring.
It continued eating. I continued petting. The purring continued.
And this became a new twice daily ritual. Occasionally, no gray kitten would appear from under the deck and I would be bereft. I hate instant attachments.
Sometimes, I would realize that gray kitten was under the deck when there were no other strays around, and a shaking bowl would lure her up to the deck itself. She would happily nosh away while I petted. Purring was expected and offered. Then another cat would appear and gray would vanish.
It was now obvious that she was terrified of other cats. She also looked pregnant. Although she was very small her belly was large. Damn. The last thing my neighborhood needs is kittens. Which will then have kittens. Which will then have kittens.
I took gray kitty to the vet.
The vet said she was about 3-1/2-months-old. “Too immature to have kittens.”
“But what about her big belly?” I asked.
Kitty got a worm shot and we went home.
I felt bad for the kitten. She was scared and unwell. So, what choice did I have but to take her in. What choice?
Priority #1 was ascertaining if she knew what a litter box was, and how to use it. Time, of course, would reveal this and the answer to both questions was soon a messy no.
Kitty, thus, had to move into my bathroom until she learned to properly conduct herself in polite society.
The weeks passed and I would breathlessly announce to my friend Patricia the daily P&P Report (poop and pee).
Me, breathlessly: “Gray kitty pooped in the litter box today! All by herself!”
Me, dejectedly: “Gray kitty pooped on my desk today. My fucking desk! Right in front of me!”
And more weeks passed with more P&P Reports. However, the reports were taking an upward swing.
I have never before tried to teach a cat to use a litter box. They always just seem to instinctively, you know, know.
Two other issues soon developed.
First, when I was at the Cross House, rather then enjoying myself and the work, I would be vaguely anxious. All I could think of was returning home to rub my nose in Gray’s warm belly. I would miss her terribly. How was it possible for a creature I did not know the previous month to seize my heart so?
Second, I hated locking her up every afternoon while I went to “work”.
But…what if…I took her…to work with me? She enjoyed the one car drive to the vet and she was a model of deportment while at the vet. Surely, she would enjoy the wonders of the Cross House, right?
It developed that enjoying a five-minute car ride was an altogether different thing than a twenty-minture drive. And Gray was not happy.
Arriving at the house, Gary seemed nonplussed by the historic home and its beauty.
I closed the doors to the dining room and let Gray out. I could hear her thinking: Where the fuck am I???????? She nervously walked around the room and under and around everything. A litter box had been put in place the day before.
With each passing minute she seemed, seemed, a bit less freaked out, and after fifteen minutes I tip-toed out to do some work. Upon returning, Gray was nowhere to be seen. I panicked. Where was she? How could she have escaped? Well, I knew she had not opened the pocket door so as to enjoy the parlor. No, she was somewhere in the dining room. My eyes scanned everything but from a cats perspective. I then sat on the floor to better see from her vantage point.
There was a small hole in one wall about three feet up. It did not seem likely but had she gotten inside the wall? My panic escalated. I peered into the wall. Just blackness. I turned the flashlight of my iPhone on and looked again. And down inside the wall was a small mound of gray fur. Carefully, I hauled her up. She was quite a sight, covered, and I mean covered, with dead bugs, dust, sawdust, and cobwebs.
“Oh! You poor sweet pea!”
I placed her on my lap and picked off the detritus. When I was finished she jumped down to the floor and scurried behind a piece of paneling. This seemed like a good space for her so I brought in a moving pad quilt to make a bed behind the panel.
She curled right up. And went to sleep.
The hours passed and I did get some work done. I would regularly pop into the dining room and Gray would occasionally deign to come out and say hello. Them a semi-truck would roar past the adjacent highway and back into hiding she would go.
For the last ninety minutes I was at work I finished hanging crystals on the dining room chandelier, thinking that Gray would be delighted by my presence.
She never once came out of hiding.
The drive home was not fun. And I knew that Gray would never again join Daddy at work.
I still miss her when I am away but also recognize that cats sleep most of the day. Thus, while I may miss her, she is likely too busy dreaming about catching mice or going to the movies or sunning herself on a French beach to miss me.