Anyone want a kitten?

In the early years of marriage Damien wanted a cat. He grew up with cats and genuinely felt affection for them.

I did not grow up with cats, nor did I feel affection for them.

When the kids were little I finally relented to getting a cat. I didn't naturally feel drawn to animals and had no affinity for them so a cat seemed like a messy inconvenience to an already full family life I was trying to keep tidy and manageable.

I agreed to getting a cat under the following conditions.

I didn't want it to shed. I didn't want the cat on our bed. I didn't want it scratching our furniture. I didn't want it pooping in my flower beds. And with three pre-schoolers to take care of, I wanted no part whatsoever in taking care of the cat.

Damien found a breed that didn't shed, the Devon Rex. But of course I wasn't going to spend money to get a cat either. So Damien worked a barter with the breeder, who lived in Georgia (we lived in Maine at the time). He did computer work for her. A litter of kittens was born. We got one. Pixel, as we named our orange haired tabby, was delivered on a plane to Portland, ME.

I have laughed about this story since the very beginning. We are unpretentious people and here we have a "fancy" cat delivered on a plane.

I remember the August morning that Damien, Laurent and Celine went to pick him up from the airport. Brienne was still nursing, and too little at the time to accompany them. My mom was visiting, she remembers too, the children's squeals of delight as Pixel romped on the living room futon.

With my children's obvious affection and delight, my heart started to soften a wee bit. What I remember most about Pixel's kitten-hood is that he loved to sit in Brienne's blue vinyl highchair seat. And second to that he loved to lay on top of my open homemaker's binder next to my computer in the office.

It soon became obvious, mostly because of how cute he was, that Pixel was not going to be "true" Devon Rex. We were told before he came to live with us that new blood had been introduced into the family line a generation (or was it two?) before his birth. Pixel had the inquisitiveness, personality, and voice (they are loud!) of a Devon but decidedly longer hair, that shed.

Over time he came to sleep on our bed, much to my dismay, but by this point the battle was lost anyway.

Pixel, sensing who's really in charge around here, comes to me when he's hungry, pounces on my head in bed when he's needy and generally seeks me to meet his needs.

Staying true to my original terms and conditions - I don't change litter or do the feeding but I make sure someone does. And I guess Pixel knows I'm the one who makes sure things get done around here.

Pixel is an old man cat now. A fat old cat. We switched him to a raw meat diet over a year ago to help address his obesity and that was working until he stayed at our friend's house during our hike and binged on dry cat food. In spite of all the exercise he got terrorizing their two cats around their farm, he gained a lot of weight. He is back to his raw meat diet but I think it might be too little too late for him now.

Like Pixel, I am getting soft in my old age. So when we found two pre-teen aged kittens (they aren't babies but they aren't young adult cats either) on our daily walk, abandoned on the road to the beach, I couldn't very well leave them there.

The first day we thought it was kind of "random" to find a small cat on the road, unattended. Such a playful fellow following us, begging us to pick him up, which we did.

Our next walk to the beach the cat found us again, and we found its sibling meowing in a tree. Skittish as all get out, that little fellow was.

We took "Munchkin" home, and brought the skittish cat, "Pipsqueak", food. When we checked on Pipsqueak the next day he was still there, but the food sure wasn't. We managed to grab him and I carried him, trembling, under my arms back to our house.

We have asked all the neighbors if the cats are theirs. They aren't. We have Facebooked their availability, and put up posters in our community, looking for a new home for these adorable cats, whom we have grown to love. Pipsqueak has come out of his shell, enduring himself to us with his vigorous play. Munchkin is curious about all things and very cuddly.

Two cats came with the house, a pair of long-haired young spayed females, mother and daughter. We brought our own cat, old man Pixel and now these two kittens join the mix, temporarily.

Collectively these cats sleep on all the beds, shed like crazy (especially the long haired females), raise the dead (or in our case, the sleeping) with their occasional nocturnal howls and hisses, generate an awful lot of litter mess, chew through expensive earbud cords and inexpensive USB cords indiscriminately, and sometimes cough up the most disgusting hairballs imaginable (that would be the long-haired cats again).

They have made the house interesting and lively, the kittens especially adding much needed levity and love during our re-entry period. I have never been this smitten with a feline before.

I can't say I have a lot of affection for cats in general, but my feelings have grown over the years, mostly because my children love cats and the things our children love tend to grow on us, over time.

Last night we said goodbye to Munchkin. Our poster at the animalerie helping us find a family for this sweet kitten. There were tears and plenty of goodbye cuddles and kisses, even from me.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Misti

    Misti on Nov. 11, 2014, 2:36 p.m.

    My husband was like you a bit, had never had cats and didn't really want them, back when we got married 12 years ago. I convinced him that we needed  a pet and we ended up with a young adult cat of about 5-6 year old that lived with us until his health declined so badly this last August that we put him to sleep. Cats do have a way of charming people...but they certainly have their own attitudes, too!

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  • Leticia

    Leticia on Nov. 11, 2014, 5:12 p.m.

     Cute cats! At one time I had 3 cats too, 2 of them were stray cats that came to our house when they were babies. Now we only got one, the other two left us when we got the dog.

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  • Nana

    Nana on Nov. 11, 2014, 7:14 p.m.

    How well I remember the day Pixel arrived at your house - and also the fact that after his first pounce on me sleeping on the futon that night I made sure his first night there was in what looked to me like a cat-apartment-building-sized carrier container. Now I've come to abide him (local language) too.

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  • Marianne

    Marianne on Nov. 12, 2014, 1:52 p.m.

    I had to laugh at the picture of Pixel lounging on your binder.  Our Cinder (also a stray kitten when he came to us) likes to walk across the keyboard WHILE I'M TYPING.   They just want to be where the action is.  I grew up with a cat and love them, but my husband did not and couldn't have cared less if we got one or not.  Now Cinder has grown on him and our son considers Cinder his 'brother'. We are lucky, Cinder is an indoor/outdoor cat who doesn't use a litter box.   He sleeps away most of the daylight hours and meows when he wants to go out.   He really should live on a farm because he's a wonderful mouser.  Yesterday evening we had the doors open (this is Florida) and he brought us a 'gift' of dead mouse, right into the kitchen. Yuck.   I heard Michael tell him,  "Great hunting today man.  Good job."

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  • Spalva

    Spalva on Nov. 14, 2014, 4:20 p.m.

    What did you do about the scratching?  My girls really, really miss a cat we had to leave two countries ago.  Unfortunately, that cat scratched like crazy, ruining a brand new sofa of ours.  In the end, it didn't matter because we loved that cat so much.  But now I can't convince my husband to get the girls a new one -- whom I would keep forever because I will never, never give a cat up for adoption again (it broke my heart...though it would have been a disaster in England).

    Also, I would be pretty desperate to know what Celine is up to.  I have a 14 year-old daughter who wants to start to work but we are living in a country where she doesn't yet master the language so location-independent, as you mentioned, would work so well. I seriously would like to know, thank you.

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    • renee

      renee on Nov. 16, 2014, 10:33 p.m.

      Spalva, Pixel's scratching habit was worse as a kitten and we provided a specific scatching pole contraption and tried to train him to use it, which we were pretty successful at. Also we clipped his nails with a clipper (not the same as having the claws removed). With our new kitten, that we've decided to keep we are also providing a scratching mat, catching him when we scratches other objects - moving him to the designated mat, and regularly clippping his nails. Pixels scratching did damage to one piece of furniture that I recall but I wasn't terribly bad since there were 5 of us to catch and stop him for scratching the wrong things. 

      As for Celine's job that requires longer explanation, I hope to get to that at some point. 

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  • Sara

    Sara on Nov. 30, 2014, 1:49 a.m.

    I tend to believe in the saying "Cats are like Pringles you can't have just one!". I used to have a computer cat too, unfortunatly she also knew where the POWER button on the computer was!!!

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