Monday, September 21, 2009
A few weeks ago, a small black kitten showed up in our back yard. There are two houses on the property where we live, and three cats, or at least there were three cats. Two of the cats, Tiki and Ginger, belong to Stephanie, who lives in the small house at the back of the property. The other cat, Quint, lives with me and Carol. Stephanie noticed that there was a little black kitten living under the ferns in the space between the two houses. He was very reclusive, but didn't seem particularly feral. Stephanie has a soft spot for wayward kittens, which I suspect is why this one chose her as a possible human companion.
Once Stephanie had noticed the kitten, it's destiny was determined. It was going to have a home . . . somewhere. She set out a bowl of food and another of water near the spot where the kitten was hiding. The kitten would briefly come out from under the plants and steal a few bites of food before darting back to safety. He was very wary of humans, as well as of Ginger and Tiki. Ginger and Tiki are indoor/outdoor cats. Stephanie brings them in at night and lets them out in the morning. Tiki especially is quite possessive of his territory and he wasn't very happy about having a new citizen in residence in the middle of it. Stephanie saw that the little black kitten would most likely perish if left to its own devices, so she determined to capture it, tame it and find it a home. After a few days of stalking the little kitten, Stephanie managed to scoop him up and hold on to him. He responded well to petting and, once captured, didn't seem to mind human companionship, so she began to tame the little creature. Eventually she brought him into the small utility room at the back of her house and closed him in with food and water so that he could eat without harassment from her other cats.
Since the little black kitten had been living outside, there was no telling what diseases he might be carrying, and not wanting Ginger and Tiki exposed to any of them, Stephanie decided to take the kitten to the veterinary hospital to have him checked over. That's when I got involved. Late one afternoon a week or more ago, Stephanie called me and asked if I would like to accompany her to the vets to have the kitten examined. I, too, have a soft spot for wayward kittens, so I agreed to go along. I got to pick up the kitten and hold onto him while the vet did the examination. The little kitten was quite a submissive little guy, rather apathetic, really, but he was clean and bright -eyed and had a quiet little voice. When we got the results back from the blood test, he was certified to be quite disease free. On the way out, he had a little accident in his carrier and from the odor and consistency, the vet though that perhaps he might have giardia and so a sample was taken and sent out to a lab. A couple of days later the test came back positive, so Stephanie picked up the proper medication, administered it as instructed, and a few days later the little kitten was healthy again. She kept him indoors after that, since she now had a substantial monetary investment in the little guy. She also had an emotional investment in him and I received a couple of calls, while Stephanie was away at work, to go back and check on him just to make sure he was okay.
Now that he was healthy, the search for a new home could begin in earnest. Stephanie took some pictures of him, posted them of her Facebook page and asked if anyone would like to adopt him. By this time, Carol and I had had enough contact with the little guy that we were growing rather fond of him, too.
Carol has toyed with the idea of adopting another kitten as a companion for Quint, but she always thought that a female cat would be ideal in that there wouldn't be that male rivalry aspect of cat relations to deal with, so the little black male cat wasn't her first choice. Actually, when I first suggested the possibility, the little black male cat wasn't a choice at all. I sort of liked the idea of adopting the black kitten, though, so I was gradually able to break through Carol's initial rejection of the concept with a proposal. I would ask Stephanie to just bring him over in his carrier and see how Quint would react. Carol wasn't completely opposed to the idea and so I suggested it to Stephanie. What with getting schedules coordinated and such, it took several days for the experiment to commence.
On Saturday, Stephanie stopped by for a visit momentarily and brought over some of my favorite Whole Foods Market Seeduction bread for us to enjoy. While we were talking I suggested that this might be the right time to bring the little kitten over for a visit. It was. Stephanie put him in his carrier and brought him into the house. She placed the carrier in the living room and we all watched while Quint sniffed and sniffed and peeked though the holes. He eventually came around to the carrier door and got nose to nose with the kitten. There was no hissing, no cowering in terror, no aggression at all from either cat. We let that go on for a bit and then I opened up the door to see what would happen. Again, no fireworks at all. The little black kitten came out of the carrier and walked around a bit. Quint was mildly curious, but not aggressive, so we let the little kitten explore. Eventually he found a spot he liked in back of the couch under the shelf I built along the picture window. Quint would go under there with him, warble at him a bit, and then come back out. So far, so good. Stephanie went home, leaving the kitten with us for awhile.
Carol and I did stuff around the house for an hour or so and just let the cats be. Still no problems, so we went out grocery shopping for an hour or so. When we got back, all the cats were still alive and un-bloodied. Stephanie stopped by a little later that evening to see how things were going. We decided to let the little black kitten spend the night. It is now Monday and the little kitten is still here in the house. We've started calling him Hedge, since that's the name one of Stephanie's friends gave him when he was living under the ferns. It seems appropriate.
Hedge continues his reclusive behavior, but he ventures out more and more frequently. Quint keeps a close watch on him and chases him around the house sometimes. Quint is also exhibiting some dominance behavior, but he's not too insistent about it and Hedge is appropriately respectful so there hasn't been any problem so far. It's fascinating to watch the development of this relationship. Hedge is currently residing under the futon in my office. Quint stops by and warbles at him occasionally. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes, but we may well have acquired another cat.