Wonderful New Kitten Brother for Skeeter Cat
My Six-Week-Old Kitten
I Need a Second Cat
As I planned to move with my tabby cat Skeeter to a different town, leaving MyGuy and his two cats Sammy and The Goddess behind, I knew that my 2-year-old cat, Skeeter, could not be an “only cat.” He is just too social. He loves playing, chasing, and agitating his adopted siblings. Picturing him wandering around a house alone while I was at work, I imagined him suffering withdrawal, depression, and introversion.
As I contemplated the possibilities for a sibling, studying photos and bios on various animal shelter adoption websites, I grew towards the notion of eventually adopting an orange male. Since Skeets is a dark gray striped tabby, I wanted a very different colored cat to reduce the number of times I would call them by the wrong name. (Reduce, not eliminate.) Also, I read somewhere that in a group of cats, a female will usually become the leader of the pack. Is this true? I don’t know, but I did not want a newcomer to usurp Skeeter’s standing as my first cat and therefore the senior statesperson, the boss. Also, the personality of the ffemale I have known, The Goddess, is rather off-putting. If it could be avoided, I did not want to import her vibe into my new family. Lastly, I thought it would be lovely to adopt a kitten. My late-in-life “cat momming” has been to adult cats and to Skeeter, who we THOUGHT was a kitten, but turned out to be a starved yearling. I wanted to experience the well-known playfulness and energy of a kitten.
Smelling the New World
A Karmic Intervention
I am also a realist at times. Paying a shelter adoption fee was not in my projected budget as I threw piles of money into a fixer-upper (that term is really too kind for the house I bought; it would not pass a code inspection). My plan was to get a brother for Skeeter when feasible. Thus, when a new neighbor introduced himself and we chatted about the town and our common interests (gardening and CATS!), when he exclaimed that he had a litter of kittens he was trying to place and that it included orange males, my karmic brain told my rational brain that this is no coincidence. This connection is meant to be. I told him that I would come by the next day to look at the brood.
New Tiny Kittens
What an experience! The litter was about 4 weeks old. They scampered and chased each other when he opened their cage door. I was pleased to see how clean his house is and how clean the cats’ area was. Also, his affection for them radiated. He truly wanted a good home for each and no mention of money occurred. After he told me which kittens were still available, I chose mine. The orange males were so close in appearance that this neighbor had tiny kitten collars on them to tell them apart. I never saw anything so teentsy – the collar probably had a diameter of one inch! It looked like a colored elastic ponytail holder for little girls.
The neighbor told me that the kittens needed to stay with their mom (a feral cat whom he took in after she birthed in a bush in his yard!) for another two weeks. On one hand, it was a difficult wait for me, but on the other hand, it gave me more time to work on making my house safe for cats and for me. There was a water-mold-mildew problem with which I feverishly battled most of my waking moments. I had not even moved my Skeeter to the new house yet, because I deemed it unsafe for him.
Kittens and cats love small, cuddly nooks.
Safe in the Cat Bedroom
Of course, when one gets a new pet of slightly unknown origins, the first item on the agenda is a complete examination by a veterinarian. (This explains the fees that shelters may charge for adopting one of their charges: they did the vet thing for you.) When I picked up my kitten, I put him in a front bedroom. In my mind, it was the cat nursery. I had the little guy for 2 days and nights before my vet appointment. I refused to name him (well, I did have a name picked out, but…) until I knew he did not have feline leukemia and that I would then give him up – I absolutely was not bringing a diseased cat into my home who could harm my Skeeter.
HE was so small!
SO small that he could sit up under a human toddler play table chair.
SO small that he could stand on top of a box of cd’s under a coffee table and not bump his head.
SO small that he was about the height of the baseboard in his room.
SO small that he curled up to sleep in a basket with two 2-pound hand weights. That plastic basket is what I put inside the cat carrier to go to the vet for the first time. Of course, the staff and veterinarian absolutely loved him. Better yet, other than a few fleas, he was disease-free. Now, he could have his name.
Tinier than a Play Chair
Say what? Ok, I like unusual ideas, things, names. My first name is unusual for the United States, so this is familiar territory for me. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. I wanted to honor that. Additionally, I remembered a character from the 1960’s television show, Daniel Boone, who had that appellation. Done.
It was our veterinarian who clued me in to the REAL, FIRST Cincinnatus. She smiled and asked, “Are all your cats named after Roman generals?”
I spent time with Cincinnatus, also known as “Cincy,” to throw him toys for chasing, to play, and also to hold him in my lap. If it is possible to train a cat to be a lap cat, I wanted to do so. There is a very comforting notion of a peaceful cat sleeping in one’s lap. Neither of MyGuy’s cats do that, so I thought I would do what I can to “create” a lap cat.
My little Cincy amazed me with his instinctive behaviors. He automatically chased small fabric mouse toys and carried them around in his mouth until he found a good hiding place. Is it all pre-programmed behavior, or does he also remember his mother carrying his siblings and himself around in her mouth? I delighted in watching him play with those little toys, juggling them in a way that it seemed they were still alive and trying to escape. And then, there was that cunning, nefarious tail of his! It followed him silently everywhere, and occasionally he would catch a glimpse of the scoundrel and chase it! Catching it, was another matter. However, he could sometimes grasp it for a few seconds before it loosed itself. He instinctively gravitated towards sleeping in baskets, boxes, and little nooks with soft linings.
I have a huge mirror (2 feet by 5 feet) sitting on the floor in my hallway. For the few times I permitted Cincy out of his “cat nursery bedroom,” he was stunned at the orange furry creature who lived in the mirror. Again, instinctive behavior took command. Immediately, Cincy arched his back, flattened his ears, extended all four legs to full height and turned his head and hips at a sharp angle towards the interloper. In this frozen, rigid position, Cincy swiftly hopped past the mirror. It struck me as a scary aboriginal pose: this crooked stiff hop with arched back. Apparently, Cincy is programmed to do this as a protective measure.
Skeeter Arrives and Meets the Kitten
After a couple weeks, Skeeter comes. This time I know to keep them separated for “a while” (whatever that is) and just get used to the smell of each other and sounds of each other, based on my very bad experience introducing Skeeter at MyGuy’s house. This is the reason I kept Cincy in the one room cat nursery when he came. I knew that when I brought my tabby cat, Skeeter, that I would give him the run of the house. By having the kitten accustomed to being in one room with a shut door, I had planned the separation time.
The kitten thought and still thinks that his purpose for life is to chase and attack everything as if it is prey: toys, cords on sweatshirts or jackets, bags. I had played with him a lot so that he would be active and physically fit. Therefore, when Cincy and Skeeter finally were in the same room, Cincy went into attack mode. It was hilarious – David and Goliath are not strong enough images for their difference in size. The little kitten stood up on his hind legs and stretched his front legs into the air as high as they could go, baring his few little baby teeth and flattening his ears. He looked like he wanted to be a ferocious, scary King Kong. He is dauntless! The reality, though, was that Cincy’s front little paws did not even reach the height of Skeeter’s relaxed back. Happily, Skeeter took this little being in his stride, neither eating him in one bite nor tossing him into a wall with one backhanded swipe. Skeeter remained relaxed and noncommittal over this miniscule furball.
I held short playtimes with them together for two days. However, once they knew of the other’s existence, they whined and fussed to be together. After a few days, I decided that we could be a family.
We are FAMILY
We are truly blessed. Never in my craziest hopes would I have dreamed how close the two cats became. Naturally, they conducted plentiful sniffing investigations (I coined a new word: smell-igate) of each other. What sniffers they are! Since Cincy still wondered about this other creature, he tried attacking frequently. Fortunately, the wrestling developed into great exercise because big Skeeter took cues from tiny Cincy’s cries. A cry meant the playing had gotten too rough, and Skeeter truly seemed to care for him, so adjusted his fighting style.
They always wanted to know where the other was. Sometimes if Skeeter found Cincy napping on the bed, for example, Cincy would abandon the spot and Skeeter would settle onto the warmed spot. One time, as I was leaving for work on a nippy autumn day, I peeked into the bedroom to say goodbye to my darling kitten. However, instead of the tiny kitten in the napping spot, there sat Skeeter upright. Okay, this was not entirely unusual. As I said goodbye to Skeeter and wondered where Cincy had gone, Skeeter stared at me with his huge eyes and lifted his back left leg. This haunch revealed a teentsy four-legged orange furball gazing curiously at me. Skeeter had actually sat over Cincy to keep him warm and protected, as a mother hen sits on her eggs!!! Both seemed totally content and stared at me as if to say, “Really, we are good. Go do your human stuff.”
I had noticed that Cincy did not lick himself. Does this behavior blossom after a few months on some predetermined primordial timeline or do they need to be taught? I don’t know. This is my first kitten. However, Skeeter apparently felt that the lack of bathing required remediation. Lovingly, he began holding down this squirming fluffball and licking him all over! I never imagined this happening! Sexist me, if it would have occurred to me at all, I would have thought only mommy cats would do this! Once again, it was heart and soul-warming to see how much Skeeter cared for his kitten brother. Cincy did pick up the cleaning skill, and they now frequently groom each other, alternating between licking the brother and licking themselves.
Blending Cats in a Family
To be Continued.....
For the beginning of my personal cat story, please go to FUNNY ADVENTURES in CAT ADOPTION.
Photos and text copyright 2013 Maren E. Morgan