"I'm going to find it," she declared emphatically
I too had heard it -- the day before. I thought it was just thoughtless bubul birds fighting over an overripe papaya, so I ignored the sound. Her son had heard it too, first in the morning and then throughout the day. Truthfully, if it was a cat, I didn't want it, so I pretended it was still "just birds."
"I'm going to find it," my friend declared emphatically. She spent a considerable amount of time hunting for the sound around the yard before apprehensively announcing, "I think it's coming from there." She pointed to my car engine -- the same car engine that had taken me to Longs and Safeway several times that day. We opened the hood. The cry was clearer now, but there was nothing to be seen. We even looked inside the passenger portion of the car. Nada. Then, out of the corner of his eye, her son saw something move. It was an asphalt-colored kitty, the color of pavement and difficult to detect. By now the car was cool enough to reach into, but short arms combined with my short body made it hard to catch him. For at least a few minutes, all arms were in the car, but he dodged everyones'.
When we finally caught him, he was tiny, scared, and terribly young. His eyes were still blue, the color all kittens are born with before they change color at around 5 weeks old. By now, all the kids -- four of them -- were crowded around. There was excitement. All the kids wanted to keep him. The problem was that my friend already had a cat, and I didn't want one. To top it off, my husband didn't want one either, although he had an excuse: he was allergic to cats.
The first night
We didn't have anything to feed him, so he got a few eyedropperfuls of water mixed with cow milk to tide him over until I could get him the right food. I made a trip to Petco, where as luck would have it, I found an employee with extensive knowledge on abandoned kittens. I left with new knowledge, a can of premixed kitten milk and the smallest bag of kitty litter I could find -- we weren't keeping him, I kept telling myself. At home, the cat suckled on the new food gratefully, all the while peering into my eyes as if to ask, "Are you my new mommy?" Before my friend left, she had helped prepare a litter box. This was the moment of truth. If the kitten was too young, he would not be able to poop without help. Young kittens have their bottoms licked by their mother to stimulate bowel movement, I had learned. Fortunately, over the next few days, he would do his business in the litter box.
The first night with our kitten was tiring. He cried all night while lodged between boxes and hidden from view. Every few hours I would pull him out and feed him. It was a weeknight, and when my kids woke up that morning, I was already up. I had been up all night.
Plans to give him away change
My friend's husband initially nixed the idea of a second cat, although he did relent later. My husband seemed anxious to give the cat away quickly and asked another of our friends, a family of many animals, to take him. They agreed. Meanwhile, we held on to him for a bit, feeding him by hand and taking him to the veterinarian for his first set of vaccinations. By now, the kitten had grown very attached to me, following me around the house like a puppy and mewing constantly for affirmation. He was also much stronger now. Nights of crying for food were replaced by nights of pouncing on my head, claws extended and in need of playtime. Frankly, I was ready for him to go to his new home. Adding to the drama. the cat could now scale the pet enclosure we kept our indoor bunny in. Everyone I spoke to said, "Oh, he probably won't hurt the rabbit," but I knew better. His feral instincts said hunt, then eat. Just as we were ready to give the cat away, his planned adoptive family let us know they couldn't take him. Plans had changed: one of them was getting married and bringing a new dog into the house by year's end. Along with several cats and a rabbit, it would be too much. We went back to plan B and begged my friend who had rescued the kitten from my car engine to take him. They did, much to the delight of her children.
I can't sleep without a cat on my head
It was the worst night -- I felt as though I had lost a family member. I brooded. My son tried so hard to pretend it just didn't matter, but he too missed the cat intensely. By the next day, I asked my friend if I could get the cat back. I felt really bad, knowing how much she and her kids had bonded. Her current cat didn't seem to mind, but that's another story. Only thing is, I couldn't take the cat back right away. I had to find a way to protect the rabbit from harm. Over the next week, I would take out the power tools and build a three-story bunny hutch out of dog crates. If the rabbit couldn't have the large horizontal run he had before, he'd have to go vertical. We brought the cat home.
The cat immediately set to work trying to nab the rabbit through the crate openings. Out came everything we had stored in the garage, including hardware cloth normally designed to keep rabbits out of spaces, not safely in them. After a lot of trial and error, the cage was deemed catproof enough. Fortunately, while our cat has an instinct for hunting, our rabbit has no sense of being prey. The bunny is completely oblivious to this creature that occasionally charges at him from outside the cage.
It looks like.. .
As the kitten has matured, its tail has grown bushier, its fur longer. When I took him to the vet the second time, I couldn't help noticing his resemblance to the cat on the cat breed poster. The veterinarian read my mind when she said, "He looks like a Maine Coon," before quickly adding apologetically, "but maybe he's just part and won't get that large." He's now four months old and well over five pounds, so I'm beginning to wonder what the other part might be. As it turns out, Maine Coons are a pretty specific breed with some interesting tendencies, many of which we noted well before we suspected he might be one. He's really mellow, a bit dog-like and loves water -- especially toilet water. We constantly have to be sure to close the lid or our cat will make a drinking bowl out of it. He also thinks his paws are hands. He will scoop out kitty kibble, chase it around the floor, then pick it up and eat it off of his paw. All in all, our family is pretty hooked on this furball of trouble. My son marvels at how he now has the largest, furriest creature possible that doesn't trigger his allergies. My husband still claims he's allergic, but so far hasn't shown major signs of it. My husband closes his door to keep the cat out, but almost seems disappointed when the cat doesn't try to enter. The cat -- like bunny -- also likes my husband intensely because hubby is the most generous family member when it comes to treats. I hope hubby doesn't feed him too many treats. Even without the extra help, male Maine Coon cats grow to eighteen pounds and nearly four feet long. A Google search of the words "biggest cat" will turn up records of cats like Samson or Ollie with Maine Coon lineage. Those cats top the scales at nearly 30 pounds and over four feet of length.
Thank goodness it wasn't a Costco quantity pack
All I can say is, thank goodness I only got one cat. Can you imagine two 30-pound cats? Seriously, we don't know if the cat climbed into the engine at Costco, but I'm having a difficult time thinking of anywhere else he could have been picked up. By the way, my friend's kids named the cat. His name is Lucky.