Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joe, Part II

The score:
Pip - 2 
Joe - 0 (still clueless!)

(painting credit:  "Mr. May" by Ron Donoughe 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Joe, the Vegetarian Kitten

I just made an appointment at the vet for our new kittens, Pip and Joe. I've been watching them obsessively, noting their habits and quirks. Their new favorite thing is to climb up into the car wheel wells, then giving our guests a fright when they jump out and flee. I can almost hear them say "boo!"

Pip, in a flash of gray stripes, has been snatching moles and mice from our adult cat Squatter, who, by the way, is getting bigger by the day. It's impossible to feed Squatter separately from the kittens, and so by way of one very large bowl, she's been getting high-calorie kitten food along with her regular chow. 

Joe, however, is clueless about the joys of mousing or eating mice. He follows behind Pip, sniffing around the area where the poor helpless rodent met its fate, but makes no other effort towards hunting. Frequently I'll hear some snapping of twigs in the garden, or paws pouncing on the porch, and I'll look out to find that he is chewing on stems, or tossing dead flowers about, or munching on bugs. He's also the first at the food dish, eating aggressively with his two front paws and most of his lanky body in the bowl. Pip and Squatter grab what they can from the space that's left.

I think he's a vegetarian (my friend Suzanne would be very happy to hear that), or maybe just a bit "touched." Maybe boy kittens mature more slowly than girl kittens? The females, as the primary food provider for the litter, have to be primed and ready to feed babies. They are a little more serious about life. A little more focused on eating animal nutrients and not fibrous weedy things. Did I say "babies?" Yikes, I think I made that vet appointment just in time!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's cuter than kittens?

About a month or so ago, Kevin was out of town, and I was changing over the rooms after breakfast and checkout. I heard a truck in the driveway, and I reached the window in time to see it pull out onto the road and read the business name on side panel. That's the guy who stopped in about week earlier inquiring about a reservation, and we got to talking about kittens. He said he had a few ferals he was trying to place in good homes. We said we would think about maybe taking one.

Then it hit me. I ran down the steps, flew open the kitchen door and there it was: A small pet carrier with his business card taped to the top. I peeked through the cage door and I see not one kitten, but two, hissing and terrified. It's 95 degrees outside. I've got a full day of baking and cleaning ahead of me, and he dropped off two kittens. Momentarily overwhelmed, I did the only thing I could manage.  I carried them into the barn, unlatched the carrier door, and walked out.

That evening, the kittens were nowhere to be found but I put some water and food out for them. All that night and the next I could hear their mews echoing from the barn. By the time Kevin arrived home, the mewing had stopped, and we saw no sign of them for days. I felt awful.

At the end of the week, however, I arrive home from work to find both kittens sitting under the truck. Hungry and frightened, they would run and hide whenever we approached, or peek out from behind a stack of wood. Slowly we got them to come out for food. Everyday they got more courageous, running around in the yard, chasing bugs, and getting closer and closer to us. One day we woke to find them on the kitchen porch, peeking into the windows and waiting to be fed. I don't think they have been into the barn since! Ever curious, scrambling around, and climbing the trees, they are a bundle of fun. We've named them Pip and Joe. 

Our adult cat, Squatter, has adapted so well. She tolerates their adolescent antics. She shares her food with them, including freshly caught field mice and moles. She'll carry her prey into the yard, make a fuss to get their attention, drop it onto the ground, and step aside. The kittens oblige by snatching it and scampering away. I can only suppose that she is teaching them to hunt like good barn cats--good girl!

I could fritter away the hours watching Pip and Joe explore their new world, wrestling and pouncing, hiding and climbing. They make me laugh, and that's a good thing. I mean, what's cuter than kittens?