Monday, September 13, 2010

Kitten Mittons



I am trying to bloom where I am planted in every way possible.

This includes being open to things I thought I would never do, or even swore I'd never do. I never thought I'd get a tattoo, I never thought I'd up and move to a new city without a job there, I never thought I'd buy cowboy boots that weren't part of a Halloween costume...and I never thought I'd be single with three cats.

But it seems that's what's happened after I took in a stray I found while on a long run last weekend. Look, I know what this looks like. It looks like a first class ticket on the express train to Crazycatladyville. I know it means more fur, more vet bills, more money spent on cat food/litter/toys, more wisecracks at my expense, more responsibility, etc. I was just fine with two cats and never wanted more than that, especially not another female (females tend to be more territorial). Believe me -- I know of all the reasons I should not keep this kitten I found. It's just that those don't outweigh the feelings I have to the contrary.

I'll start with an explanation of how I found this sweet furry thing. I was on a 6 mile training run with Kristine and Laura, my friends I ran a marathon with last summer. My Garmin's batteries were shot, so we had to approximate our mileage using a combination of memory (having run so many training runs on these trails before) and trail markers. When we had about another mile to run, with about 1/4 mile of walking back to the car after that, we turned a corner near a brushy, woody area and Laura stopped in her tracks. "Look -- a cat!" And there was Mittons, a tiny black and caramel-colored tortie, sitting in some tall grass and just looking directly at us as if to say, "Excuse me! Please notice me and help me! I'm scared and hungry."

It took us a few minutes to catch her, but we all marveled at how close she'd let us get to her and how she never really ran "away" when she recoiled at our attempts to pick her up. This cat was friendlier than your average feral cat. Finally, while Laura and Kristine distracted her, I grabbed her body from behind (my previous grab at the scruff of her neck had proved fruitless, as there was no spare skin to get a hold of). She hissed at me, but once I had her in my arms, she curled right up into my body, nestled her head into the crook of my elbow, and began to purr. We walked like that for well over a mile back to the car and she was content and comfortable the whole way. I've never seen a cat accept being held by a human so well. While walking back to our cars, we got some funny looks from other runners and cyclists. I finally started proactively explaining, "We found this cat on the trail. We're not just taking a kitten for a walk!" I had some ideas about people who I thought would want a kitten, so I said I'd take care of her until I could find someone to take her -- and she was so cute, friendly, and lovable that I thought that would be no problem!

Of course, since that was more than a week ago, you can guess that I was wrong. I couldn't find anyone to take her. I put out the word to all my friends, posted a Facebook posting, begged a few people, and even had a lead that involved e-mailing pictures and serious consideration. Alas, these efforts were for naught. I continued to take care of her health needs while trying to find her a home. This has entailed a first examination, testing for leukemia and FIV, booster shots, treatment for worms and ear mites, getting her spayed, and a front declaw procedure. On top of the $500 in vet bills, I bought her special kitten food, treats, and milk; a bed; toys; and litter. She will come with all of these things, in case anyone's interested!

For now, I'm calling this girl Mittons Radcliffe. "Mittons" comes from my favorite TV show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is an episode in which one of the characters invents mittens for cats to reduce the noise they make "stomping around" all over the house. However, this character is only marginally literate, so he spells the product "Kitten Mittons." Since she was a kitten, I thought the name "Mittons" fit, and I actually thought it might help her score a home with a friend who also loves the show (no such luck). Her middle name, Radcliffe, comes from British marathon superstar Paula Radcliffe. Fitting for a kitten found on a training run with my marathon runner friends.

Anyway, I've got a kitten now. I'm now a single girl with three cats. I'm still willing to give Mittons to a good home....I think. Or am I? I've been thinking that it was a fortuitous thing that she popped up at that moment, when three cat lovers happened to be passing by (the timing of which was wholly dependent on happenstance and not precise mileage accrued as would be the norm). It's remarkable how wholly she trusted me immediately, and I feel I can't betray that by making her go to a new, unfamiliar place where I don't know that she's being treated with the same attention and love I know I can give. I feel this kitten views me as her provider and protector for some reason, and I feel obligated in that role now.

I know that might sound crazy, but remember -- I'm trying to bloom where I'm planted and to take advantage of opportunities even when I didn't expect or even want
them. That is what I'm trying to do with my life trajectory, and how can I do that if I don't live it on a day to day basis? I need to take trips, try new places out, wear new types of clothes, make new friends, and -- just maybe -- take in new kittens. Make that, "take in a new kitten (singular)."

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