Tag Archives: kitten

Know How to Receive This Gift

I owe y’all an update on the kitten! If we’re friends on Facebook, you already know the surprise ending (spolier alert: WE GOT A NEW KITTEH!) As with just about everything in my life, this adventure got me to thinking Big Thoughts that I like to share through Barely Adequate Words.

As soon as I wrote that blog post about the kitten in the tool shed, the kitten left the tool shed. And like the 100% sane and stable person that I am, I  started thinking, “Great–now that I’ve told everyone about the kitten, Huck probably ate it. This is all my fault!”

Nevertheless, the kitten showed up again. Turns out, it was living under the deck, in between the decking boards and the tin roof of the screened porch down below. I caught a photo of the teensy baby one morning when it came out to explore the sourwood tree. One golden leg like something out of a classical myth…

kitty tree

And then I made the mistake of giving Vivi my phone as a distraction at lunch and she saw the photo.


kitty vivi

Operation Kitty Katcher was launched about 20 minutes later when we got home. We deployed cheap tuna fish, long crinkly ribbons from Vivi’s birthday balloons, leafy twigs, and flashlights after dark. Vivi sat on the deck with her tablet in hopes of catching a photo. We got close a time or two, but kitten was too wily.

kitty ribbon

We dropped chunks of tuna fish through the railing and onto the tin roof below. Slowly but surely, the kitten began to trust us. I taught Vivi to tap the spoon against the wood every time she fed it to call the kitten out. We brushed our fingertips against the kitten while it ate. We wiped tuna fish on our fingers and eventually the kitty licked them clean.

kitty catcher

It was so stinking hot that weekend. Yellow jackets like tuna fish–did you know that? Me either. But we kept at it.

At one point, Vivi said, “How do you think the kitten ended up here?” I told her that Nana said Papa sent us the kitten. “I know that’s not really what happened, but I like to think of it that way,” I told her. Vivi knows I don’t believe in any kind of afterlife. Her thoughts flickered across her face then she smiled, “I agree with Nana–I think Papa sent us the kitten.”

We sat there together with our arms contorted through the deck railing, dangling our stinky fingers over the edge in hopes of luring the kitten out. “Well, even if Papa didn’t actually send us this kitten, he taught me everything I know about catching kittens. He taught me where they hide and how to feed them and ways to get them to trust us. He taught me that it’s good to take care of hungry little kittens. So in a way, Papa is part of us getting this kitten.”

This is the first kitten I’ve had in my lifetime that wasn’t handed to me by my father. There were allllll those kittens when we were growing up–Slick, Jasmine, Farrah, Wildfire (I gave my cats stripper names). When I was out on my own and ready for another heartbeat in the apartment, he found Jane for me. The most beautiful meanest butterscotch bitch you ever reckoned with. I thought she might be lonely when I started working full time, so I went back to see Daddy. He reached blindly into a cage of stray gray tabbies and put Mr. Kitty in a box for me. Jane bit him on the neck as soon as he climbed out of the box then she spent the next 15 years hissing and spitting at him. When Jane and Mr. Kitty both passed on, and Richard’s Nixon followed a year later, I went back down to Griffin for Thanksgiving and came back with Rufus and Jinx. Someone had thrown Jinx in a trash can when she was three weeks old, and Rufus had been dropped off in the parking lot. Daddy got an earful when Rufus gave Vivi ringworm right before school picture day. Anyway, I’ve had a good run of cats, thanks to Daddy. But now I’m on my own. And my daughter has been begging for a kitten. I’m the grown up in charge of kitten procurement now.

There are two things we can do for our children. We can give them gifts, and we can teach them how to receive gifts. My dad did both. He gave me kittens. He also taught me how to see kittens as a gift. How to receive another mouth to feed with joy and a light heart. How to see a kitten as an increase in love, not an increase in burden. How to spend a sweaty Saturday stinking like tuna fish and getting a crick in my neck because my daughter wants a kitten to love on. And her mama can give her that gift.

On the Monday before school started, I pounced.

kitty carrier

It’s a girl. She was Socks for a couple of days. She was Sammy Socks for a while. But she does that thing that kittens do–kneading her front paws back and forth with her purrbox cranked up to 10. One time I asked Daddy what the clinical name for that motion was and he said, “Makin’ biscuits.”

Meet Biscuits.

Thanks, Papa.

kitty puzzle

kitty biscuit portrait

A Yella Cat for Christmas

yella catsThis darling photo reminded me of a sweet but bygone Christmas tradition in my dad’s house–the Christmas kitty.  

For a few years running, back before the grandchildren came along, Daddy used to bring home a little kitten on Christmas Eve.  Whichever one had been left at the kennel after the cutest ones had been adopted.  So what I’m trying to say–gently–is that these weren’t your most attractive kittens.  They were the kinda wonky ones, that still deserved love.  

Well, one year, we got the wonkiest of them all.  His name was Little Red.

It was a few hours until Christmas Eve dinner and we kids were all hanging around in the kitchen watching Daddy and Gay cook.  You know, like you do in big families with small kitchens.  That’s when Daddy looked over his shoulder from the stove and said, “Oh, I almost forgot!  I got us a Christmas kitten–Brett, run down to the clinic and get that little orange kitten and bring him home.”  Brett DISSOLVED into laughter so we knew something had to be up.  

Thirty minutes later, here comes Brett with a cardboard cat carrier that’s making little mewling noises.  She sets the carrier down in the center of the library rug but won’t open it up until she has everyone’s attention.  “Y’all just aren’t going to believe how beautiful this kitten is!  Close your eyes!”  So we do and she starts giggling again and there’s some rustling and mewling and…

…I wish I had a picture.

There in the middle of the rug stood a bright orange kitten, about the size of a coffee cup.  He looked like he had been hit by a truck because, well he had been hit by a truck.  This tiny fluff ball had his right front leg in a cast wrapped in red bandages.  His left back leg was popped out of joint and still sitting crooked.  His nose had been sewn back on with some stitches poking out.  He looked like he had sideburns because of the dark greasy streaks from some earmite medicine.  His whole backside had been shaved so Daddy could sew up a long laceration right by his hooty-hole.  Which was all dabbed in some fluorescent chartreuse antibiotic cream.  

“ISN’T HE ADORABLE???” Brett squealed.  We were speechless.  The kitten looked around at all of us staring at him–on top of his otherwise shitty couple of days–and said, “Mew?”  Then he stalked around the room, inspecting his new kingdom.  The cast made him swing his leg out in a big circle like a peg-legged pirate.  With each step, it made a “bonk” sound on the hardwood floor.  

Daddy said, “A lady from the Humane Society found him lying in the middle of the road and when she saw he was still alive, she brought him in for me to put him to sleep.  I told her I would, but after she left I reached down to pat him and he started purring.”  That was all the explanation we needed as to why Daddy had spent Christmas Eve gluing this orange kitten back together.  Because my Daddy has a special place in his heart for “yella cats.”  

Did you ever get a kitten for Christmas?  A peg-legged, shaved-ass, pirate kitten with sideburns?