Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Momma's Favorite Story

My fondest memories over my entire lifetime include my interactions with a tiny, hungry, and homeless kitten that preferred to be petted and shown love to food. At about eight months old, and after about a month of being fed almost every day, "Male Kitten," still only weighed four pounds when he got his forever home. I've shared Bear's adoption story {HERE}, how he got his name {HERE}, the challenges of adding a kitten to my household {HERE}, and finally, the stressful relationship between Bear and Kitty (the 15 year old cat I already had) {HERE}. This post's dialogue is essentially a re-telling of Bear's adoption story - because I savor and treasure all the tiny details of how Bear and I came to rescue each other - but in more personal terms. I hope you'll see why I fell in love with "Lily" and why I became so attached to "her" that I couldn't leave "her" outside, to an environment "she" seemed so ill-suited for. And still, after nine years, I can't get enough of the story . . . and I can't believe how much life has changed for both of us . . . how much we've grown and changed each other. 

As an extra bonus, for your patience in hearing Bear's adoption story again, in the pictures at the end of the post, you'll see the old favorites, plus a few "new-to-the-blog" pictures; all taken before the move (when Bear was a little over one year old).

BC: Bear Cat
MK: Momma Kat

BC: You fell in love the first time you saw me, right?
MK: Not exactly . . .
BC: WHAT?!?!? My whole life has been a lie! I'm too cute and too fierce not to be loved at first sight! Oh WOE! Woe is me! My Momma doesn't appreciate me!
MK: You forget it was a little more complicated than that. The first time I saw you was a few months before we first interacted.
BC: Wait a . . . YOU were that dorky, goofy-looking, human who kept staring at me?
MK: Umm . . . I guess. 

BC: Didn't your Momma tell you it's rude to stare? CREEPY! You know I hate being stared at!
MK: Yes, if I set a mousie on the edge of something, so he's JUST peeking out at you, you always go ninja on his behind. And you do that with your other toys too - they're not allowed to look at you. But you don't seem to care if I stare at you . . . in fact, you frequently set yourself up so I have no choice BUT to stare at you . . . as long as you're not in the litter box, or eating, or grooming, or full of the crazies.
BC: Phht. Who wouldn't WANT to stare at me? I'm HANDSOME. But you're my Momma, so you get an EXTRA-SPECIAL show. But back to the story!

MK: It was the second night the Big Dodo and I lived there and we were leaving to get dinner since all of our stuff was still in route. I'd been looking for all the cats the landlady told us came around. Right before I got in the car, I saw a tiny tiger kitten following a larger white cat. So tiny . . . So cute . . . I just froze and watched. I tried to figure out if the white cat was the kitten's mom or just a cat the kitten was following.
BC: You forgot the "so TIGER," part after "So tiny . . . So cute . . ."
MK: No, you were tiger in appearance, but you were very timid. You froze when you saw me. And acted like you'd run if I got any closer . . . so I just watched, until the two of you ran off. It took a few minutes for you to "unfreeze," and I think you really only finally did because the other cat was walking off and you were more scared of being left than the "goofy" human staring at you.
BC: Hmph. This doesn't sound like me at all . . . maybe it was one of my litter-mates?
MK: That's possible - but I'm almost certain it was you. You're a momma's boy so I imagine you followed her around as long as she let you.
BC: Not me AT ALL!
MK: At first, after I adopted you, I thought the white cat was another cat in your colony because it didn't make sense genetically that your mom was all white. But now that I know you, knowing you'd probably be a momma's boy, and after hours of staring at you and seeing all the white in your coat, especially on your chin and bib, I'm pretty sure she was your mom. Especially when you consider that I never saw you with another cat and you were so scared of the others.

Left Picture: Bear now . . .  with his whitish bib and chin. 
Right Picture: Bear as a kitten . . . only now do I notice how much white is in his coat.

BC: {sniff} How do you know I wasn't protecting her, Secret-Service-like?
MK: You were so tiny! I'd never seen a cuter or tinier kitten.
BC: The cute part DOES sound like me . . .
MK: But I didn't see you again for a few months . . . though I always looked for you. Finally, a few months later, I was carrying in groceries when I saw you run under the deck. But you didn't go ALL the way under, you were peeking out at me. I probably fell in love with you then. You looked so vulnerable and scared, plus a bit curious about me.
BC: Wouldn't you be curious about a goofy, creepy, strange-looking person staring at you?
MK: I think you chose me too. I think in that minute we looked at each other and my heart melted, you decided to give me a chance. You could have run all the way under the deck and hidden - but you didn't. You stayed there and looked right back. 
BC: Phht. Bear Cat doesn't HIDE. I'm fearless.

MK: I'd noticed your beautiful coat - but it wasn't until we stared at each other that I noticed your gorgeous green eyes.
BC: Ladies can't resist me.
MK: Then I went inside and got a bag of treats and dumped a few out for you on the stones next to the sidewalk. I only dumped a few because I wasn't sure you'd come out . . . and I saw you looking from me to the treats and back again . . . but you'd picked up the scent of the treats.
BC: When I smell treats, all my mind can think is "Treats, treats, treats, TREATS, TREATS!!!"
MK: I went inside for a few minutes and came out to find the treats gone and you still looking out at me from under the deck. So I dumped the rest of the bag and went inside.
BC: Phht. I wouldn't have eaten the treats if I'd known they were leftovers. Like it's my problem that you stocked up on Kitty's favorite turkey flavored wet food and those treats and then she changed her mind.
MK: Bear. She only ate one flavor of wet food for four or five years STRAIGHT. I don't think it was unreasonable to stock up. And since the expiration date was coming up, I'd decided back when I saw you the first time that I would put it to good use instead of pitching it - by sharing it with the homeless cats. But I kept putting it off when other cats came around - and I didn't really know why - but I think I was waiting for you.
BC: I AM handsome.

MK: The Big Dodo was out of town the day I first fed you, but I called just about everyone I could think of because I already loved you and wanted to tell everyone about the tiny kitten who gave me just a tiny chance.
BC: Phht. You have no life . . . what ELSE are you going to talk about? I mean, you STILL talk about me all the time! You designed a BLOG to talk about me! Not that I mind . . . I was born to be a star and admired . . . and I have to say, I am HANDSOME and SEXY.
MK: It was more than that, Bear. I hardly ever call people unless I really need something and everyone answered right away because they were scared something was REALLY, REALLY wrong, like when Kitty died nine months later.
BC: I thought we were talking about ME?!?! Get back to how cute I am!
MK: I can't remember the next time I saw you. When I came out from putting all the groceries away, you, and the treats, were gone. I can't remember if it was the next morning or a few days later when you came back. You let me pet you even before I gave you the food.
BC: I'll put up with just about anything for food.
MK: The first day you let me touch you, I didn't push it. I figured you didn't want much from me besides food. But then you showed up just about EVERY morning when the Big Dodo left for work . . . and occasionally when he got home. That's when I came to the conclusion you were LIVING under the deck - which was right by our front door - so you heard the door open and came out.
BC: Ummm . . . FOOD?!?!
MK: Yes, but you know just as well as I do, that no matter how much you were starving, you'd ignore the food for as long as I sat out there and pet you. You'd just roll on your back and purr so loudly I could feel it vibrate in my heart.
BC: Hmph. That's a bit sentimental.

MK: Now that I think about it, you were really smart to pick under the deck because you were just small enough to fit under there . . . you didn't have to worry about the other cats, who were all bigger than you, or other predators. And with the deck above you, and a bunch of dried leaves, I bet you were well protected from the elements too.
BC: I'm the predator! Of sexxxx-y felines! Heeeee-y.
MK: My favorite part of our interactions was when you pulled my hand from rubbing your ears to your belly. When you just rolled on your back, I was scared at first because Kitty'd roll on her back and viciously attack you if you touched her belly. But you wrapped your front legs around my arm and pulled my hand to your belly because you really wanted belly rubs. That was the best feeling in the world.
BC: I bet my belly was itchy. There were all those dry leaves hanging around.
MK: Really. Because you still love belly rubs.
BC: Phht. No. I put UP with them.
MK: I've never seen a cat put up with anything. You all usually do what you want and leave us humans to pick up our body parts.

BC: Whatever.
MK: And the wrapping your front arms around my arm thing was what made me think of bear hugs when I had to come up with a new name for you.
BC: Because I was a BOY. And you called me "Lily" for almost a month!
MK: Anyway, sitting outside with you in the early morning, EVERY morning, petting you and just enjoying the peace of the morning . . . one of the best times of my entire life. At first, I was kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing - how close you wanted to be - all the affection . . . I didn't understand why you were so loving toward me. And ESPECIALLY why you'd ignore the food when I was out there. You HAD to be starving. And when I went inside, the other cats would come and eat the food I put out for you and you would run away. I couldn't figure out why you were acting so contrary to the overriding primary instinct (food) experts claim all animals have. You made me think that there had to be so much more to cats than people realize. And I couldn't figure why you chose ME . . . it seemed too good to be true. I'm not all that special, sometimes I seem a bit closed off, and I wasn't used to being chosen, or loved so freely, like that.
BC: It was an elaborate con. You felt sorry for me. Of course, you'd adopt me and I'd have all the food I could ever want. All those other cats were suckers.
MK: I really, REALLY wanted to adopt you. But Kitty had health problems, and it took a lot of time and effort just to walk the tightrope between her issues because when one got better, the other got worse. I didn't think she'd like having another cat around and I didn't want to expose her to any illnesses or health problems you had.
BC: You were afraid she'd dig my sexy.
MK: I resolved not to adopt you - but it was killing me. You seemed so ill-suited to a homeless life. Not that any cat is really suited, but I don't think you hunted and you wanted so much love.
BC: I hunted! All kinds of things! All the time!
MK: Of course you did. Finally, the Big Dodo told me to stop tearing myself to shreds and agonizing about losing you and just adopt you. He was probably tired of me going on and on about you. And it was getting really cold outside. And you'd started responding to "Lily." 
BC: This is why you can't ever tell me what cats are like . . . you're surely NOT the expert! I'm ALL male.
MK: Well, you did have the surgery later . . . so technically . . . 
BC: All the feline chicks, over the ENTIRE world, wept for my manhood. SUCH a miscarriage of justice. You just didn't trust Kitty alone with me.
MK: Ummm . . . right. I didn't trust YOU alone with Kitty. But not because of your maleness . . . but because you refused to leave her alone.
BC: Again, back to the story about me!
MK: I put off adopting you for a few days so I could research how to keep Kitty safe and how to help the two of you adjust to each other.
BC: That's RIGHT! Foolish human. Kitty could never be safe from my charm!
MK: Not exactly what I meant. The morning I'd set the vet appointment to get you checked and tested before I brought you inside, you didn't show up. Or the next day, or the day after that. I was really worried that something had happened to you.
BC: Hmph. I was sowing my WILD OATS! Spreading my . . . err . . . whatever makes kittens.
MK: Finally, about a week later, you showed up . . . I fed you . . . 
BC: And then you cat-napped me!
MK: Yes. I had to put you in the carrier and call the vet for the first appointment available. And oh my gosh . . . were you LOUD. I left the carrier outside because I didn't want to endanger Kitty if you ended up being sick, but I could hear you shaking the carrier and HOWLING from the other side of the house.
BC: I still had kittens to make! And seeds to sow! And tomming to do!
MK: You lived under the deck. Since then, I've done research on tomming, and I seriously doubt that's what you were doing. The only slight evidence of that is when you disappeared for a few days - but outdoor females do that too.
BC: EXACTLY! I waited until the chicks were drooling and couldn't help themselves anymore! Then I availed myself of the lasses. 
MK: You ran away from the other cats! I figured you were the runt.
BC: RUNT my RUMP!
MK: All the other cats were bigger than you.
BC: Did you see my kittens?
MK: If those were your kittens, I'm a monkey's uncle.
BC: OB-viously.
MK: Bear, that calico had three ginger kittens. The gingers were most likely boys and most likely had a ginger as a father. If you had the ginger gene to pass on, you'd have been ginger too. I've studied cat genetics.
BC: Then why was the calico after me?
MK: She wasn't AFTER you. You'd try to escape and she'd try to run inside where it was warm. You both drove me nuts. I had to keep one in and one out and it's not as easy as it sounds.
BC: I was returning to the wild!
MK: No. You just wanted to stress me out and get a reaction. Once you got to the sidewalk, you froze, like you weren't sure how you got there. Most of the time, you even turned back and started going back toward the door. Not that I'm complaining . . . if you'd actually run and kept running, I couldn't have caught you. Especially since I was really concerned about the calico getting inside and exposing Kitty to stuff that would have made her very sick. Though, I thought about adopting the calico too - six months after I adopted you. Kitty had died by then and the calico seemed friendly and like she'd be amenable to living indoors. There were two reason I didn't: because she had the kittens and I didn't think they could be left on their own yet, but also that I wasn't sure how well she'd adapt to being indoor only and I didn't want to move and then find out she couldn't. We were moving across the country and I figured if things didn't work out, I'd be doing her more of a disservice to put her back outside in a different area and a different climate. We couldn't wait to move to see if she could adjust and I never would have felt right about separating her from her kittens anyway.
BC: You were just worried that my handsomeness and my fierce-osity would woo her to my side. It'd be CONSTANT kitten-making! Hubba-hubba.
MK: I really wish I could have saved all the cats . . . when we moved in, I was really worried that I'd want to adopt ALL the homeless cats the landlady told us about. But the others seemed at least a little capable and happy with how they lived. The look in your eyes told me you wanted to give people a chance.
BC: Ha! I fooled you!
MK: You were so timid at first. It was adorable and I took it as a challenge to get you to trust me. But you actually trusted me almost completely the second time I fed you. And look at how much BOTH of us have changed! At the time, I was uneasy with a cat following me everywhere and always being ON me - but now, I don't think I'd know what to do without it. When you had your tumor removed last year, I felt completely lost with you not here . . . and though I'd spent the entire night up with you, I couldn't sleep without you here. I HATE being here by myself. And you've made me fall in love with you in a billion different ways since the first time. You're not timid AT ALL around me anymore. In fact, I think you relish standing up and holding your ground - being you. It makes me feel good to see that. We BOTH found homes.

BC: You still cat-napped me!
MK: Yes. I was so worried you wouldn't adjust to being an indoor only cat, but I could never tell that you'd been anything different. You've always been a giant cuddlebug.
BC: You really panicked when you found out I was male.
MK: Yes, well. I wasn't prepared for a pregnant cat and having to make an impossible choice, but I was even less prepared for you being male. I only had a bit of cat sitting experience with males.
BC: You used to sit on cats? That's mean!
MK: No. I took care of the cats when their people were out of town or in the hospital. When my family was looking for a cat, my mom had this long list of all the reasons we didn't want a male cat and none of them ended up being true in relation to you.
BC: You MUST feel my raw masculinity! My milkshake brings all the girls to the yard!
MK: I love you so much, Bear. You've changed everything and fixed everything and given me so much happiness, just by being you. All your love . . . all your indignance, annoyance, and rebelliousness, you're my Bear.
BC: Hmph. That's one thing you did right . . . I am FIERCE! I'm NO POOH-Bear!
MK: Do you remember your first day in your new home?
BC: You mean when you CAT-NAPPED me . . . and gave me a bath . . . and forced me to stay in my litter box?!?!
MK: That's not EXACTLY what happened, Bear. Plus, there was lots of cuddling - which I still couldn't get my mind around. Right after the vet, I gave you a quick bath, even though you looked pretty clean for being outside in the fall. Then you went between cuddling with me and your food bowl all afternoon. And I finally got a hold of the Big Dodo at work to tell him we had a male kitten. SURPRISE!
BC: You forgot about the litter box.
MK: I'm sorry, Bear! Everything I read said that to litter box train a cat you should put the cat in the litter box right after he eats or drinks! You'd cuddle with me for a few minutes, then grab a bite . . . so I'd put you in your litter box because that's what it said to do!
BC: Until I curled up in my litter box.
MK: I DIDN'T KNOW! I'm sorry! I thought you just weren't getting it; in the end, I was the stupid one. But you never had a problem - when you had to go, you went . . . I didn't have to do anything. And in retrospect, you'd never had a full bowl of food out for you in your life . . . so I can see why you kept going back for a bite.
BC: After being cat-napped, the vet, the bath, and being forced in my litter box, it was the best day ever! I had unlimited food and snuggles! You spent the ENTIRE day with me in my little room.
MK: And the next day too.
BC: Phht. And then you tried to leave me in there alone.
MK: I can't remember how long I was supposed to keep you and Kitty separate, but I think it was closer to a week. By that third day, I had a bunch of stuff I had to do, that I couldn't do in the second bedroom where you were. 
BC: You abandoned me!
MK: I swear, Bear. I am stubborn. RIDICULOUSLY stubborn. But when you howled for three hours straight, I just couldn't take it anymore. Everything I read said the cat would stop - just wait it out . . . but it was ripping my heart out. THREE HOURS, Bear! That's when everything changed . . . you went from sweet Pooh Bear to serious pain-in-my-ass Bear Cat. You did WHATEVER the heck you wanted and made such a stink when you didn't get your way, that it was impossible to ignore you.
BC: I was meant to be spoiled.
MK: I'm not really complaining. I mean, yes, I can understand why Kitty didn't appreciate you following her everywhere and watching every single thing she did. Especially when you'd watch her sleep or chase her out of the litter box so you could cover her business. All of that was very stressful for everyone and I wish I could have made it so there wasn't stress, especially for Kitty. But I love your prickly side as much as I love your sweet side. And for whatever reason, you needed that - to be loved in all your glory - best, worst and everything in between. You needed to know I love you regardless. And you gave me that too. I'm not perfect.
BC: YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN!
MK: But you still love me. At the end of every day, you snuggle with me and everything is made right. I can't believe the amazing kitten I get to share my life with. And to think that you might not have survived on your own . . . the world would have missed out, I would have missed out, and we wouldn't have created a safe, loving home for each other. Pretty cool.
BC: Umm . . . you forgot to say that you're not perfect again.
MK: I'm not perfect.
BC: Can I get that in writing?
MK: How about I make it up to you in snuggles?
BC: With ear rubs?
MK: Yep.
BC: I love you, Momma. How we met is my favorite story too!



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