I spent most of last week with my mother and stepfather in Virginia. As they are having increasing difficulty managing their household, my wife and I decided to adopt the new kitten – by now almost a young male cat – that had adopted them several months ago. Their two resident cats had not taken kindly to this young, hungry, wanderling and taking responsibility for one more cat seemed a bit much. Since we lost Katrina to old age a couple of months ago it seemed a win-win for all concerned.
The new kitten, white with caramel markings around the ears and tail and large blue eyes, seemed to have spent his childhood more or less on his own. Getting little love from people or the older cats, he was very skiddish. He seemed to prefer his own company, preferably in protected darkened locations. One might call him wild.
Since just getting close to the kitten was difficult I started tossing small bits of ham in his direction on the back porch. After a few days he would tolerate my presence, sometimes taking food from my hand. But even a small unexpected movement on my part could send him running. Sensing trouble getting him into the cat carrier, I bought some leather work gloves.
The morning I was to leave with the new kitten we did not put out the usual cat food. That way he might be very interested in my ham offerings and less interested in my new gloves and the cat carrier with the open door. According to plan the kitten was soon eating before me as I knelt on the porch. However the leather gloves made handling the ham difficult, so I removed the glove from my left hand. This seemed a one-hand operation anyway. That was the first mistake.
The second was not accounting for one of the other cats also being very hungry. I soon had a large cat between me and the kitten, smacking the little one and eating his food. Torn between hunger and cat abuse, the kitten looked like he wanted to bolt. On my knees I twisted and started feeding the large cat behind me, then turning and trying to reassure the kitten all was well. But all was not well and the kitten seemed spooked. The large cat proved not that easily satisfied and returned to eat ham out the bowl at my knees. I would soon be out of ham.
Seeing the kitten momentarily distracted by a large piece of ham I brushed aside the cat and grabbed the kitten. But before I could get him into he carrier he slipped out of my grasp and started to run. He was quick, but I was quicker. I grabbed him again and leaned towards the carrier. This was one seriously unhappy kitten. Again the kitten seemed to spin around within its skin and slipped away. This time I only was able to grab hind legs as he jumped from the porch. I did not know I could move so fast. As I swung it around towards the carrier the kitten twisted towards the back of my exposed left hand – which was now getting into the act – and buried his two upper front teeth. After I managed to get him into the carrier and secured the door I noticed blood all over my left hand.
After cold running water, hydrogen peroxide, and a compression bandage we left aside kitchen talk of blood poisoning and tetanus shots and had an uneventful four-hour drive to our kitten’s new home. I had the carrier in the front passenger floorboard. The entire time I was unable to catch the kitten not staring at me unblinking through the air holes. If looks could kill we would not have arrived.
My wife had prepared the bathroom as the kitten’s Ellis Island. I handed the carrier to her and they disappeared behind the door. As I started back to the car for my luggage sounds of all manner of commotion came from the bathroom. But when I shortly returned all was quiet, too quiet. After hearing nothing for a few minutes while I unpacked I called out, “You OK?”
Speaking softly my wife told me that everything was fine. Unconvinced, I opened the door. “Where is he?” I asked.
“In the trash can,” was the reply. My first fleeting thought was of a terrible fight, the body of the loser now in the trash. But then she pointed to the corner behind the toilet, the trash can on its side, and a white fur ball inside.
As recounted, the kitten immediately began running about, knocking over the trashcan. He jumped on the toilet, to the toilet tank, and then began climbing the window blinds almost to the top before becoming entangled and rescued. Freed from the blinds he climbed the shower curtain and walked along the curtain rod until he fell – on his feet – into the tub. Recovering, he ran into the corner and, finding the trashcan, climbed inside.
For the past couple of days the trashcan has been his home. He has developed a fondness for tuna fish, has started purring, and will allow my wife to pick him up for short periods of time. I have not tried to pick him up, and may not for a while.
Because of his gender and eye color we had started calling him “Blue Eyes” or “Frank” after Mr. Sinatra. But I started calling him White Fang on the trip here. Fang might stick.