Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blackbeard the Kitten

While I was getting ready for work on Tuesday, I was alarmed to discover that our nicely-made bed had devolved into a shambles. Sheral's cat pillows were strewn about the top of the bed, and some had tumbled to the floor. Her quilts were tangled and disheveled, the smaller one at the foot of the bed becoming an untidy ball of material defined by furrows, wrinkles and great, soft rolls and folds.

As I put the pillows back in their place at the top of the bed, and was smoothing the small quilt's lumps and bumps flat, the largest of them began to squirm, wriggle and purr. On lifting the top of the quilt, I was greeted by the sleepy, contented, smirk of my buddy, Don Ciccio, who is our eight-month old foster kid, sometimes known as Blackbeard the Kitten.

Cheech is the last of our carport kittens, and he arrived here when he was seven weeks old with his brother, Don Fabrizio, and his sisters Dona Carolina and Dona Concetta. Cheech was the smallest of the four, and the most timid, which is to say that he was not really very shy at all. His sister Connie's Russian Blue coat with its faint tabby markings and her kinky Manx tail have led us to believe that their mother was a liberal democrat. The gentle good nature and tireless curiousity of her kittens have convinced me that she was tame too.

For the most part, Fabio and Cara were content to play by themselves, while Connie and Cheech sought the society of our other cats. Connie was a Xenaphile, following the Big Perfect Cat wherever she was allowed, while Cheech spent most of his days annoying the small, grouchy black-and-white cat who lived beneath our bed like a troll under a bridge. In time, he broke through the barricades to become Robin to Leonard's brooding, one-armed Batman. They would race around rooms together, Cheech keeping to the high ground - like kitchen counters and tabletops - and throwing any desirable, forbidden baubles he found up there to his delighted, less-nimble big brother.

It was soon after Fabio and Cara were adopted that we got our four bottle-feeders. Renfrew, Cherie, Pierette, and their brother Redmond were only two weeks old, and had just started to open their eyes when they came to us. Connie and Cheech were fascinated by everything about these little, mewling clumps of fur. As they grew and became more mobile, they would play with them, treating the four fragile little mites as if they were kittens of the same age. One day we caught them on a downfield run across the living room, tossing a squealing Renfrew back and forth between them like a little, fat football. We quickly intervened to break this rough and dangerous game up, only to have Renfrew waddle up to the big, bully brigands, defying them to try that again.

Connie was adopted a little before the bottle feeders were. In a little while, our family was joined by three timid four-month old kittens, who were designated Dennis One, Two and Three. They became Denis, Fleury and Madelene, and quickly decided that the big, black kitten was the most interesting of all of the new things they found in our home. It wasn't long before the two boys began to snuggle up with our long, lean, handsome pirate and began trying to nurse from him. To our surprise, Cheech has turned out to be a good and patient little mom. 

I can't say that Ciccio is always a good boy, but he is unfailingly a nice one. He doesn't understand our rules restricting kittens from tables and counter-tops, so he ignores them completely. He will sometimes steal a bit of Leonard's raw beef, and it is the only time we have seen his big brother upset with him. Leonard becomes so flustered, that he will try to batter him with a missing left paw, as Cheech retreats, unscathed, of course.  I swear I heard him chuckling as he ran down the hallway with his ill-gotten morsels.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon sitting on the couch watching old movies on TCM. Cheech sat on my lap with his chin cupped in my hand. If the little scoundrel was playing his Get Out of Jail Free card, I had already forgotten his offense. I was treasuring the moment, because it will probably to be the last opportunity I have to do so.

Don Ciccio has been visited by adopters before, but they have always found some flaw in him. He is too shy, or too bold; he's too quiet, or too rambunctious; he's too young, or he's too old. Mainly, I think, he's too black, and sometimes the most enlightened of us are a bit superstitious. I expected Stephanie to be the same, but she isn't. She visited us on Sunday, and early on Monday morning, she informed us that she had signed the papers, paid the fee and done the deed. Cheech has been adopted, and left us on Wednesday afternoon for his new home with Stephanie, Ross and their three boys.

Although that's the whole point of the exercise, today is a sad day for Leonard and me. He is our little buddy and he will be missed. As for his flaws, all gems have a flaw, and Cheech is a big, black diamond. I expect that he will be treasured as such, and will be very spoiled.

Leonard and I will probably be just fine...

 To support to the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association,