Little Mewsette is pleased to explore the jungle. Just as we did this week, all the plants that could come indoors, did, and it was almost too much for four 14-week-old mini housepanthers on a warmish autumn day in 2007.
On this particular day a good time was had by all for their visiting hours in my office. Well, all four kittens, at least. The adults in the room were tolerant, and, possibly, understanding. Mr. Sunshine also explored the jungle. He and Mewsette have always looked so much alike the best way to tell quickly was to look for white whiskers or some white ear hairs, of which Mewsette always had a few but Mr. Sunshine just recently sprouted his first white whisker.
The geraniums and begonias are in for it. About four weeks earlier I had started letting them out of the second floor to visit downstairs for about an hour each day, just the office, not the kitchen or basement, but they made the most of that extra room. Just four days earlier they had met a black cat through the door who was likely father to at least one of them, if not two; you can read that below.
Namir found that getting onto the stool kept them at a distance, although even as an adult he could be just as busy as they.
Until, of course, they discovered it, absolutely stealing the show like Giuseppe and Jelly Bean. At this point I called Giuseppe “Joey” because Giuseppe was a bit much for a little bit. The name Jelly Bean was in the future; I’d named them initially after characters in the opera La Boheme and Bean was Rodolfo. As he grew, his horizontal white spot came to look like a clerical collar so I called him “Father Rodolfo”, though that was migrating to “Little Guy” because he was noticeably smaller than the others, and that shortened to just “Guy”.
Poor Kelly just wanted to nap on the rocker and she could be a little intimidated when kittens invaded, but as they explained, they just had a few questions they needed to ask her, like why did she have all those markings all over her? Actually, all four of them have always loved other cats and been very affectionate, and even as kittens they wanted to greet all the other cats in the room, not understanding that two by two was not necessarily a cat way to do things.
Mr. Sunshine, my plastic chewer even today, had spent some time at the veterinarian after he passed by breakfast one morning and vomited a bit. I was, of course, on the lookout for any sign of FIP, which can look like anything, and we all thought it best to have him looked over. He proudly displays his shaved arm.
Later, the dynamic duo of Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine learn that sitting still and looking directly at me when I point the one-eyed black thing at them gets them praise and pets, and so they sit still for a few photos while I learn about photographing two backlit black kitten faces for the first of what will turn out to be probably thousands.
The whole ordeal was exhausting for them. They ended every visit with a group nap, which was usually on the floor. At this point they found the desk was where I did things and suddenly understood that humans were to be supurrvised at all times, though that could be done while napping. How much space does a a small pile of housepanthers take up on your desk? And how many other photos have I captioned “they are all ears” or “when we put our heads together, we fall asleep”?
From the Archives: The Day We Met Our So-called Daddy, November 8, 2007
We had always had our mama Mimi with us from the time we could remember, and of course our human mama Bernadette, and aside from a few other humans we saw now and then we didn’t know there was ever anyone else. What kindle of happy kittens could ask for more?
But one day we noticed our mama Mimi was acting a little strangely, distracted and distant, not as attentive with the touch-up baths we loved so much, little licks around the face and ears as we figured all feline moms did. But she kept going to the front door and the windows and pacing around, which was not unusual considering there are often other kitties out there, not to mention her favorite chipmunks and squirrels and birds and more. We just felt she was expecting something to happen and were excited because everything had always been exciting that was new.
We were just about four months old, quite mature we thought but were about to learn a lesson we’d never forget. As we looked out the doors and windows we saw…a big black cat we’d never seen before walking up the sidewalk on the other side of the street. He crossed the street and came right toward our house, but he wasn’t acting like the usual cat visitors, sniffing everything along the way and leaving a little message in return. He just stepped right onto the walk and headed for our front porch. And somehow, it wasn’t his size or shape or anything, we just felt like…somehow, we knew him.
It was obvious our mama Mimi knew him, as did our mama Bernadette. Just when we thought we knew and had experienced everything, like we knew every other cat in the neighborhood and every bird and squirrel by their secret names, these two showed us we were wrong.
Both of them grew very silent and stood still watching the cat turn off the sidewalk and come down our walk toward the door, as if he lived here! Mama Bernadette, of course, grabbed one of her eye boxes and we heard snap snap snap while we did our cat thing. We stood still and studied and turned our ears this way and that and bobbed our noses and opened our mouths to smell better as our mama Mimi taught us in order to experience and assess a situation.
To be purrfectly honest, we were a little scared, and we felt a little unsafe, like we might need to run and hide under Mama Bernadette’s long skirt.
And we were totally confused by the next thought mama Mimi sent to us. The images and ideas we were seeing from her were totally confusing…her and this cat, in the neighbor’s driveway across the street, were they fighting? What was this all about? Then we saw our mom with a big belly, then we saw…some squirming little black things? This cat was somehow part of us, he was our “father”. That was a totally new concept. What was a father?
He kept calling her “Maia”, and he and our mama Mimi had a wordless conversation, something about “not doing that anymore”. In another part of our consciousness it was all coming together. There is that part of us that knows things we can’t see or smell or hear or taste or touch, it just wasn’t as important as what we “knew” in that moment, but we’ve grown into it as the years have passed. In that moment all four of us together were coming to one understanding as we looked at each other and at our little mama and at the cat out on the sidewalk, and even at the other cats who weren’t even related to us, Cookie, Namir, Kelly and Peaches—apparently they knew something too! How could we have not known this? We were learning one big lesson from our mama Mimi and our older brother and sisters, and even our human mama, this concept of “father”, and we weren’t sure we liked it, especially the way he was treating our mama Mimi in her images, and the way he was looking at her and communicating with her now!
But even though our mama is tiny and was way less than half the size of this big black cat, she told him where to go in no uncertain feline terms we won’t repeat here. And he did, just turned around and went back out the way he came in.
Then the conversation started and included all the cats in the house because this was like a new toy to play with! Even we recognized his face—did his eyes look like Giuseppe’s? Those big round paws like Mewsette’s? And that white spot—Bean had one too! And that straight-across back—Mr. Sunshine!
In the end we decided we all looked a little bit like him. But we still looked like our mama Mimi. And we would never love any other kitty in the world like we loved our mama Mimi.
But then she told us something that shocked us all. There was another black cat aside from this one! And another one too! Why didn’t they come to visit? How would we ever know if we looked like him instead? Mama Mimi said she hoped she’d never see him again because she had no further use for him.
Underneath the excitement of meeting this black cat, the whole situation was very confusing. Mama Mimi told us there was a time that this was what she did and she was very careful about who she chose, she liked everything to be organized and neat. But because we would all soon be “fixed” (we didn’t know we were broken) we would never fully understand and that was just fine.
We see plenty of cats out there, but we never saw him again. We hear human cat daddies are pretty special—we have cat uncles and they are the greatest!—and we’ve heard about some cat daddies in our own species who are just as cool as our mama Mimi, but this guy, well, we’re glad they didn’t stay together.
You may also recognize this guy from “The Boys Don’t Get Off the Hook on Spay Day”.
Read about Mimi and her epiphany about the happiness of being spayed in her annual Mother’s Day address, Mimi, on “Mother’s Day”, but once you’ve produced the Fantastic Four, how could you possibly top that?!
So who do you think looks like the cat daddy?
Sadly, I didn’t have a trap in those days and no one to assist, and I never found out exactly who owned all the unneutered black cats, so I never caught this guy.
. . . . . . .
I first published this on The Creative Cat for Father’s Day 2012.
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They have to do everything in groups of three, or four…or five. A friend gave me a new bed for them, and this is the result, four of them in the bed immediately, even if they don’t all fit. Jelly Bean is laughing because everyone is lying on top of him. How can I tell them apart? Well, look at those expressions! Read more and purchase.
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