As you may know, we have been wanting to get a "friend" for Sampson because he is "stressed". After visiting two animal shelters we still hadn't found just the right cat or kitten. When my husband first asked me what I was specifically looking for, I had told him that the colour of the cat didn't really matter (although I don't like white), but the cat should be affectionate, should have a good purr, and should have a personality. The more we looked, the more I thought I wanted a kitten to enjoy those crazy moments of play, ripping up something important with tiny claws, and having it fall asleep in your lap. I thought it would also bring a little entertainment into Sampson's life and get him to be a little more playful at nine years of age. I also realized that I would really like a long haired kitten, much like our beloved Boots that we had when we were first married. We thought he had some Maine Coon in him and he was wonderful. He fetched toys, he was pretty verbal and said something which we swore sounded like "Mama", and he got along very well with Kitty who was a little older than him.
On Friday (2 days ago) I was looking on Kijiji which is an online sight where people sell everything from used cars to used appliances and so on. People also sell animals. I found a posting for kittens and cats for free. The picture showed a long-haired orange and white tabby kitten. There were also other kittens from this litter: tortoiseshell, pale orange, calico. But the long-haired orange tabby tugged at my heart. The reason for parting with these kittens was something along the line of they had rescued the mother, she had kittens, and the woman had COPD and allergies and couldn't keep them.
|This is a Google image of what the kitten looked like.
We called the number after 6:00 as requested and ended up speaking to the man, for a long time, who proclaimed his love of animals and how important it was to him to find exactly the right home for these kittens. He and his partner were not home at the time, but would be later in the evening and he said there were many people enquiring about the same kitten and it was so important to make sure the people were genuine and would give it a good home. He said our story (stressed cat) really resonated with him and I guess we won. We were the chosen. We passed his test. (Spidey Sense is mildly tingling at this point. Inner voice is saying, "This guy is kinda weird.")
It was not until much later that same evening that he called back and gave directions to my husband. We put the cat cage in the vehicle, asked son if he wanted to come (he did), and off we went. The guy instructed us to call him on our cell phone when we pulled up to the house. (?) (Spidey Sense still tingling. Inner voice trying to reassure me, "Oh maybe they have a dog that they want to shut up somewhere so it doesn't scare us...") Upon pulling up to this small farm house with sheets tacked up in the windows ("Maybe they recently moved in and don't have curtains yet?"), we called both numbers and nobody answered. A face had moved one of the sheets aside and peeked out at us. (Tingle, tingle, tingle...) ("Abort, abort, abort")
Then a woman appeared around the corner. Keep in mind it is dark out now. My husband even said, "I'm going to keep the car running." We got out and the woman seemed o.k., said hi, and took us around to a back door into a back room which was filled with this and that and boasted a huge amount of monster film posters. Each to their own. The aroma of cat urine was strong. They had a cardboard box up on its side with the kitten in it and the mother cat was in the room as well. Mother cat was very affectionate, rubbing and allowing me to pet her. You could tell one of her ears had been damaged by frostbite, but she looked healthy and happy. The kitten was pressed up against the back of the box, not really willing to let me pet him. When I tried to pick him up he let a terrified yowl. The guy was busy asking us questions. These were skill-testing questions, apparently. Did we know such and such a director? Have we seen such and such movie? He also told us all about himself. His entire life history it seemed. He made himself out to be acquainted with all kinds of famous individuals and declared that his partner (wife??) was related to Frank Sinatra (maybe, but I don't care anyway). (Inner voice: "Shut up. I don't believe you. Just let us take the kitten and go.") He picked up the kitten and set it on top of some flat surface in this cluttered room and it naturally jumped down and started exploring. Now of course we couldn't reach the kitten. It would involve moving any number of things out of the way. The guy seemed to be making an attempt to get the kitten for us, as he continued to quiz us and readily admitted that he was testing us out, making sure we were the right ones. (Spidey Sense on full tingle at this point. Inner voice thinking, "If this is a test, YOU sir have failed. " ) Unfortunately, he had chosen the wrong test because my husband is, in fact, a real movie buff and it was like a sparing match between movie nerds, each out-identifying the director and star of old monster movies. The guy admitted that he really liked my husband, too bad I'm married to him, he'd marry him, himself. (Seriously?)
As he was telling his tales of which stars he knows and who he is getting together with soon.. ("You're NOT inviting them HERE, are you??") he is getting no closer to capturing this kitten. I just want to get out of there and start to get impatient with his diatribe. Finally he caught it (We had moved items out of the way and partner had also helped) and the kitten was put in the carrier and we tried to make our escape. The man actually felt he had to carry the cage to our vehicle, but then handed it over to me as we got closer. Eventually, after more movie talk outside in the cold with husband, we left.
When we get home, we had one room set up with a litter box, food, water, comfy places to sleep, etc for this new addition, away from Sampson because we wanted to introduce them properly, bit by bit, so the relationship worked. It was sooo late at this point that we just wanted to go to sleep. When we let the kitten out of the cat carrier, it immediately ran under a chair out of our reach. We tried talking softly, enticing it with treats, but nothing would bring it out from hiding. Oh well, it would warm up to us soon. We all went to bed. But not before the guy had called our house to make sure everything was o.k. and if it wasn't working, we could always bring the kitten back. My husband reassured him we had a spot all set up and everything was fine.
I woke up first yesterday morning and went downstairs to see how the kitten was doing in the room we set up for it. It was in our livingroom (which we call the red room) where there is a couch, two side chairs, two big book cases, and a recliner wing back. When I went in, I saw that it had eaten most of the food and had been in the litter box. That's good. At first glance, I could not see the kitten, but figured it was tucked up some place private due to being in new surroundings. I kept looking, getting down to look under objects, looking behind book shelves (which sit out a bit from the wall due to old, thick baseboards), even looked on the bottom shelves of the book cases, in case the kitten wedged itself in a space between books of differing sizes. When my husband got up, I still hadn't found the kitten. This was getting weird. And no amount of calling or food shaking made it appear. Husband even speculated that it could cram itself through the opening under the closed door (Old house, doors have been messed with over the years...) and then panicked that it is somewhere in the house, so he went around with a flashlight looking in corners and behind things, even in the basement.
I had one last thought, is there any space under the reclining wingback chair? So we tipped it up onto the back legs of the chair and husband had a look and said, "Hello!" We had found the kitten which had climbed up under the chair and burrowed in the tucked in recliner foot rest part. It would not come out and my husband reached in to get it out, it hissed and then got away from him, only to hide under a different chair. Later, when I placed a couple of pieces of cat food in order to entice it, so I could see it a bit better, it backed farther away and hissed again.
|We found the kitten wedged up under the reclining foot rest.
Also, when I went to get my cell phone out of my purse which had been hanging in the mudroom, I saw that the guy had texted us a lengthy text last night as well as trying to call and leave a voice mail twice (I don't pay for that service, so it just notified me of it, but he wasn't able to leave a message). At this point both my Spidey Sense and my inner voice were screaming at me. If we kept this kitten the guy was never going to leave us along. He would be calling to check up on it and to tell us more stories (true or not). As well, this was most definitely NOT an affectionate cat with a purr and a personality. This was a kitten that had not been socialized with people and would take days, if not weeks or months, to trust me or any of us. It would likely be skittish with strangers. I read a lot on the internet about how to socialize a kitten like this and I was disheartened.
This was not what I wanted. I had pictured myself with a kitten playing with a shoelace by now. Even as a child sitting on the hay in a box stall, barn kittens were more accepting of me than this. Of the three kittens we had started with at various times, each one of them was holdable, pettable, approachable. After a talk with my husband, we agreed that he would call the guy and explain it wasn't working out. We would not bother to add that it was more like a feral kitten and that we were concerned that the kitten also came with an ongoing attachment to him. I was very thankful that my husband said he would take it back that morning (I did NOT want to see that guy again), so we tipped up another chair, husband got hold of scared, hissing kitten, and we placed it back in the cat carrier.
Because the guy said he had MANY MANY ENQUIRIES about this kitten, we felt someone else would adopt it, maybe someone who would be home all day, everyday, who could work with it over time and gain its trust.
So, I learned that although the kitten LOOKED like something I wanted, I rushed through the initial meeting where I should have realized that it was NOT a happy, easy going animal that was used to being handled. And because I didn't listen to my inner voice, I found myself in an awkward, uncomfortable situation.
We will find a new kitten / cat, but this time it won't be about the outer looks, it will be about the personality. Don't judge a book by its cover.