Adopted by A Cat—One Cat Person’s Story
Pet adoptions often bring to mind visions of eager animal lovers scrutinizing homeless cats or dogs behind cages at animal shelters. One might even visualize bird and bunny lovers checking out the more exotic types of creatures in pet stores or in breeder housing. Pet adoptions do not always occur because a cat person or dog person or other specific animal loving person goes in search of the perfect pet; however, sometimes adoptions occur when wayward animals find their perfect person. This was certainly the case in this true story about how my cat adopted me.
Scrawny little thing was Momma when Sissy set her on the living room floor after class one day. Whether lost or deserted, the cat had targeted Sissy’s car, out of all the many vehicles in the university parking lot, as the one in which a compassionate human would welcome her to enter, and then spare her from the vile of future loneliness.
Following Momma’s twenty minute ride “home”, she entered my house with the words explore and conquer leading the way for her keen eyesight and superior sense of smell. Although a puny little thing, she paid no attention to her tiny physique. Once encountering my other cats, she immediately let them know that she would dish everything toward them but take nothing from them. In return, the other cats assessed her in wonderment—perhaps thinking she did not even smell as if she were from our county—but proceeded to stay out of her way.
As the days and the weeks passed, Momma’s thriving appetite suggested she was making up for days, if not weeks, worth of time she might have spent alone and starving. On the other hand, of course, she might have been fattening up in case she found herself without a steady food supply again. Whichever was the case, she mostly alternated her time between eating, hanging out with me, and warding off the other cats.
In due course, Momma added a few needed ounces, and eventually pounds, to her scrawny frame. Although pleased that she was beginning to look like a well-fed healthy cat, on occasion, I had to remind Sissy that I did not want any more cats; and that I really did not know what we were going to do about Kitty, as we called her when first taking her in.
Unlike the indecisive me, Kitty continued to implement her own plans as to how things were going to work out. Having already made the decision that she was my cat and I was her cat person, she continued her move to keep the other cats away from me. If the other cats as much as looked my way, she would stare them out of the room.
As the cat wars escalated and time continued to pass, one day it occurred to me that Momma’s belly seemed a bit more round than I would expect it to be; and yet, I passed off the initial thought attributing the bump to her need to eat extra for fear of starving again. After all, Momma was a small cat; and there was no place for her to grow except outward. A few weeks later, however, as she continued to swell, I suspected that the bump was not just a belly filled with food, and then, Momma had three kittens.
It was a cold winter morning. Rainwater seeped through the aluminum patio roof that obviously needed caulking—or whatever material one uses to clog holes in that kind of roofing. Poor Momma cat had stretched out on an old linen sheet that had worked well as a cat bed when the weather was warm and dry but dampened from the rain, proved insufficient for a mother cat giving birth to vulnerable kittens.
As it happened, I was the only human available to come to the aid of birthing Momma and so I provided her with dry bedding and put a bucket beneath the hole-dripping raindrops.
Despite my efforts to supply Momma and her newborns with drier bedding, I did not feel comfortable about leaving this cat, who had become a constant companion, out in the patio room with a litter. I knew the weather was on a downward cooling spell, and was perfectly aware that come nightfall, the patio room, despite being enclosed, could feel like a freezer to a nursing cat and newborn kittens. Sure they had fur—but somehow the thought of them out in a cold room while I was warm in a heated house did not fare well with me.
It had not been very long since I had last removed a cat litter box from the house. I recalled that at the time of its removal, I had told myself, “No more litter boxes.” Our cats were indoor/outdoor felines, and therefore, I expected them to use the box in the patio room or to go outside for bathroom breaks, but if you suspect by now that I am pretty much a sucker for a cat, well… Yes. I withdrew my commitment to keep cat boxes out my home and once again yielded in favor of feline fumes. Adorning a bathroom floor with a “beautiful” litter filled cat toilet I assured myself unselfishness played no role in my being and I should be proud for helping the poor little pusses.
On the bathroom floor went more fresh bedding followed by careful placement of three palm-sized kitties—a gray male, a gray female, and a multicolored female. Seeing Momma cat follow along, I thought how grateful she must be. Soon, however, I discovered that nursing Momma’s gratefulness was all in my head!
It was to my grave disappointment to discover that my careful feline nurturing assistance and Momma Cat’s purrs of gratitude lasted about a minute! She decided the bathroom did not provide enough privacy—or perhaps protection—maybe even darkness—and made it her goal to house her pride behind a chair.
One by one, her teeth latched the infant scruffs, carried them to another room, and put them behind a chair she preferred over the bathroom. It mattered not that she had to climb the chair and then jump down between the chair arm and a side table to get the babies where she wanted them to go. Her determination pushed her through.
I, on the other hand, possessed determination too, and my determination, insisting Momma and her litter would stay in that bathroom, picked each kitten up and returned it to the comfort of the nice clean bedding I had provided.
After a few rounds of back and forth—Momma hiding the kittens behind the chair followed by my returning them to the bathroom—I decided to barricade the hall where the bathroom was located in order to block Momma from transporting the kittens.
Was I a dope or what? Trying to dissuade Momma the cat turned out to be like persuading a dog to birth puppies in water. I simply could not deter her. After a few irritating meows that I sensed were intended to further rally up her determination, Momma once again sunk her teeth into a kitten’s scruff and jumped right over the barricade I had built by prying a sheet of wood against a hall entrance. I tell you, she did not miss a beat either. At the end of her hurdle, the kitten was still dangling comfortably in her mouth.
Yes! Momma was the mother feline and she knew better than any human did as far as what was best for her kittens! No matter how much she liked me, this was her decision!
Well I, being human and all, with an opposable thumb and the ability to manipulate objects much better than any feline, put Momma and kittens in the lavatory, pulled the bathroom doorknob until the door shut, and secured cat and kittens in that room! That’s right! I showed her who was boss—me!
For a short couple of weeks, I really did believe I was the boss, but then, the tiny felines began crawling and I had to admit they could not stay in the bathroom forever. So, once again, I left the door open. Once again, the rounds of kitten placement behind the chair ensued. Once again, I put the kittens back in the bathroom on the comforting bedding I had provided.
Being the resourceful person that I am, eventually, I concluded that if I could think like a cat, I could free Momma and her kittens from the jailing bathroom. I imagined myself as a cat in my house and pondered where I would hide my kittens. What do you know? Voila! The answer became clear.
When I had set up the bathroom to contain Momma and her babies, one of my concerns had been their ability to gain easy access to the cat litter box. I decided I could address this concern and give Momma what she wanted at the same time by rearranging a storage area in a nearby closet. I set about rearranging the area, using boxes and things to make a path that would limit entrance and exit access and using linen to limit outside lighting.
Once the “den” was complete, I showed the area to Momma and discussed its “features” with her. I swear, if you had been there, you would have thought I was a salesperson trying to sell a house to a cat.
Any who, Momma investigated the place—crawling through the tunnels I provided and examining furniture and supplies stored in the closet. I rubbed her and continued assuring her that she and her litter would be safe in the den until at last I announced, “I’m going to get the babies now,” and then, I toted the babies into the closet and maneuvered them through the entrance.
Thank goodness! Momma was pleased. Purringly (I made that word up), she went in the hole, lie down with the kitties, and never tried to re-house them again. When she came out, she seemed even more grateful for my understanding and if cats could smile—I would have to say she grinned at me from whisker to whisker.
From that day on, we developed some kind of new bond and she entrusted me with the care of her babies. She always enjoyed it when I came in to visit them; and seemed to expect me to do so. Instead of coming around to block the other cats from enjoying me, she would come to get me and take me for a kitten visit.
Once the kittens grew older and began to go their own way, Momma cat would allow them, and only them, to hang out with me. They could sit with me, lay with me, purr for me, and let me rub and scratch their backs, but not the other cats. Until this very day—and this all started over a year and a half before this writing – Momma makes it clear that I belong to her—and her offspring—not to any other felines. You see. Although we often think of people seeking to adopt pets from stores, or animal shelters, or breeders, sometimes the pets do the adopting and this is how my cat adopted me – even though I did not intend to house any more cats!