The little brown cardboard pet carrier box sat in the middle of our lounge. My wife has returned from the pound with a little eight-week-old kitten. It is not the one that she had picked out online but another who had won her over. This sudden interest in getting a kitten by my wife had taken me by surprise and I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a good idea. We already had our little cavoodle dogs, Daisy and Rosie, and did we really need a kitten? I love cats however and have had one sharing my life for most of it. The last two had both been pedigrees, a Burmese then a Tonkinese, and my theory then was that only pedigrees have character. This theory was about to be tested.
A soon to be very familiar meow emanating from the box filled the closed room. I could sense the heads cocking and ears twitching at this on our two cavoodles who we had shut outside the room while we let our new arrival take in the unfamiliar smells and sounds of our home. Our previous experience with introducing new kittens to a new home has taught us that they arrive terrified from the transportation in an enclosed box and once released from the confines of the box are likely to just scramble, anywhere, to find someplace that feels safe and hidden while they adjust to this new environment. We had shut the cavoodles out because we didn’t want the dog’s instincts to chase adding to the kittens fear as it searches for a hiding place.
My mum used to always put butter on the soles of their paws which made it difficult for the new kitten to run and encouraged them to sit and lick the butter off first. The idea was that the time taken to clean their paws allowed them to adjust to the new environment a little easier. My wife wasn’t so keen on this idea. The little background we had on this new arrival was that she had been found, abandoned, on the street at an estimated age of five weeks, barely able to survive without her mother. One of the pound staff had had to foster her with bottle feeds initially and then weaned her. She had nicknamed her, for reasons soon to become apparent, “Squeaky” but my wife preferred the name Millie because that was the name of the cat that had got her attention online. Right name, wrong cat.
So with a final check that the room is secure and with a lot of quiet calming words I gradually open the carrier box to reveal this little tabby kitten now meowing solidly in protest at the indignity of being caged in this box. As my hand reaches under her belly to pick her up I feel the soft stitches from her recent de-sexing operation. She is so tiny the width of my hand encompasses almost her entire soft warm body. This further indignity of being picked up is not to be tolerated either despite my soft stroking of her back and with continued meowing wriggles to free herself from my grasp. I gently place her on the ground and watch carefully to see what will happen next. But there is no mad scramble, no apparent fear, just a calm, measured, tail up, strut around the room by our defiant street cat, exuding a real street-wise attitude. This is different and not anywhere near our expectation of panic. Millie had arrived.
After about ten minutes of her continued strutting, we thought it might be ok to test her confidence with the introduction of our cavoodles. Our placid little girls trot in as I open the door, eager to investigate these strange new sounds and smells only to be greeted by a small little ball of fur charging at them. They soon discover that this little ball of fur has sharp claws as they scramble around in circles trying to evade the onslaught. The attack only ceases once they have retreated to a space behind my wife and I. What happened? says the bewildered look on their faces. What had happened was that a new boss of the watch had arrived.
Regrettably, I didn’t have the presence of mind to film this initial meeting but here is a video filmed a couple of days after Millie arrived. It was shot quickly on an iPhone and the quality is not the best but it will give you a sense of the dominance that this little street cat established quickly. Bear in mind that Millie still had her desexing stitches in place.
And here is one taken a few days later where Millie really shows her Wuppie herding skills 😉
** Stace says: This was my day 6 assignment as part of the Writing 101 course run by WordPress. The prompt was “Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?” and the twist is “Turn your post into a character study”. It’s a sad commentary on my social life these days that the most interesting encounter I could bring to mind was the arrival of our cat and that was earlier than last year. However character she has plenty of and this might well be the first of a continuing series. I may not have hit the brief but it was fun to bring this back to life.