Five weeks ago, my boyfriend and I acquired a kitten. He showed up on our porch one day and never left. Our initial plan was to get him neutered and re-release him into the wild, but he was already largely domesticated. That presented an obstacle all too common for those doing TNR: kitten snuggles.
Within a day, the kitten had a name: Salvador or Salvy-poo, after the Kansas City Royals’ All Star catcher, Salvador Perez. He had also fallen asleep in my arms after gently licking my cheek. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Though unambiguously adorable, Salvador threw our home into an unrelenting state of chaos. We kept him in another room for a couple of weeks so our other cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix, could get to know him through the door, but Bubba and Phoenix are like curmudgeonly middle managers in the corner cubicle who just want the new hotshot in town to shut up and let them continue to slurp their tea and play Celine Dion at a reasonable volume. They hated Salvador instantly.
Five weeks later, things have gotten a little better — Bubba and Salvador have sat together on the couch once or twice — but I’ve been reminded that getting a kitten is a lot like detonating bottle rockets inside your home several times a day and just kind of hoping for the best. Here are five other things I’ve learned about kittens.
One does not simply plunk a new kitten into an established environment and expect everyone to get along. It takes time to establish a new order — and that time is messy, rude, and loud. It’s hard to remember the days when Phoenix would curl up purring on my lap and Bubba Lee Kinsey would sit meditatively on the windowsill while I drank my morning coffee.
Instead, Phoenix spends most of her time grunting and growling whenever Salvador gets within five feet of her, and Bubba has learned that spending the entire day in the walk-in closet is the easiest way to get his requisite 20 hours of sleep. For the most part, the soundtrack of my life has become a low, guttural moan, like the wails coming from the bedroom in every horror movie about demonic possession.
In the five weeks Salvador has lived with us, he has destroyed two plants (maybe three; one is in critical condition), the ottoman, two sets of curtains, and my fragile sanity. He’s in the process of destroying the couch, but since the couch is huge and he is small, it’s going to take him awhile. Still, with his natural penchant for destruction, I have no doubt he’ll reach his goal.
When he’s not sleeping (he does this occasionally) or eating (he does this more often than it seems like he should), Salvador wants to play. Unfortunately, to a kitten, “play” is synonymous with “murder,” and Salvador’s favorite “victims” are Bubba and Phoenix. I try to distract him with feather toys and catnip mice (so far he’s lost roughly 30 in various corners and crevices around the house), but nothing can stop him from stalking and pouncing on one of the other cats whenever the opportunity presents itself.
He also loves to chase his own tail (adorable) and attack my hair when it’s hanging in front of my face and I’m trying to type this blog post (awful).
Admittedly, all of our cats have a tenuous grasp on the concept of personal space — Phoenix, for instance, loves to say hello while you’re going to the bathroom, and Bubba Lee Kinsey will stare you down until you give him a bite of your food. But Salvador’s utter disregard of basic decency is perhaps the most impressive.
While I’m eating, without hesitation, he will jump on my lap, place his paws on the edge of my plate, and start licking my food. When I pick him up and put him on the floor, he’s back in two seconds. Did you know kittens can bounce?
I’ve never liked the idea of spraying cats with a water gun, but this is a tactic we’re trying with Salvador when he gets too close to our dinner. He seems to be learning. Keeping him away from the keyboard when I’m typing, however, is another story.
Salvador has ruined our material possessions and disrupted our peaceful home, but every day things get a little better. And after he does something awful, it seems our tiny, striped kitten always falls asleep purring on my chest. During these sweet moments, I realize winter is coming (for real, not like in Game of Thrones), and we almost definitely saved this little cat’s life. Knowing that, I can handle a bit more chaos.
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.