My magicians: Penn, Jillette, and Teller
We had to name the kittens we found a couple of weeks ago just to keep things straight. They’re funny. They’re like magic. We settled on Penn, Jillette, and Teller. I think it’s fitting.
This morning the vet said she thought they were around six to seven weeks old at this point, which breaks my heart because now we’re sure they weren’t fully weaned by their mom and that they definitely had to weather a couple of terrible thunder storms — complete with tornado activity — when they were only a couple of weeks old under the neighbors’ shed. Poor guys. The thought of a homeless, hungry mother cat protecting her newborns under those conditions is especially heartbreaking.
Even though I’ve enjoyed this pile of kittens scampering around, I feel enormous guilt because one of them looks exactly like a stray I saw a number of times running around my neighborhood. I assumed s/he’d been someone’s outdoor pet and hadn’t done anything. Sadly, I should have known better because there was no collar, and the cat spent a lot of nights foraging around in my backyard only to quickly disappear when the dog went to the backdoor and whimpered for us to let her out. Having noticed coyotes running along the back fence, I hope she didn’t fall prey and that I can trap her eventually to eliminate further litters.
Penn, the largest kitten — the one who found us — is gray and orange. When we first pulled him from the rose bush, he bit three people and was so feisty that I could barely get him into a carrier. When we tried to pet him, he’d spit and hiss, completely full of piss and vinegar. I couldn’t blame him. When we caught the other two kittens, who were huddled together in fear that first night, Penn would stand in front of them like a protective sibling. Now he lies in our laps and lets us rub his belly. He’s definitely the most curious, definitely the one who is first out of their large kennel every morning.
Jillette is the smallest. Solid black with the most beautiful blue eyes. An all-out people cat. When the other kittens are exploring and playing, Jillette follows us around and mews to be picked up. When we do, she always purrs…and purrs…and purrs. Even so, she’s the first one to the food and growls at the other kittens if they so much as look at her while she’s eating.
Teller is a gray and white kitten with white markings around her eyes. If you talk to her, she’ll talk back. If any of these kittens are mind readers, it’s Teller. I believe Teller was the first one who was brave enough to meet our resident adult cat, Clover, who is also a gray and white tabby.
When we first took the kittens into our home, we weren’t sure what our own animals would think. We’ve got some seriously spoiled pets around here. Since we do a fair amount of short-term fostering for dogs, our cats, Banksy and Clover, and our dog, Nova, are pretty predictable when it comes to acclimating to canine visitors, but baby cats? That was new. However, getting to know our three animal pals in this new light has been almost as awesome as watching the kittens hop around and tackle each other.
Nova, a dog who became ours because she wasn’t fitting in very well in other foster packs, surprisingly became an instant nanny for the kittens. In fact, she loved them so much that she wouldn’t let them out of her sight and spent a lot of time wrangling them to sleep at her side much like a mother cat might have done. After she had them where she wanted, Nova cleaned them and watched over them. We’d say, “Hey, Nova, are those your babies?” and she’d lick their heads and look at us, like, “Duh, can’t you see?”
Clover, a feral cat we adopted from the pound two years ago, watched all of this from the doorway. I could tell she wanted to come closer, but was hesitant. Shortly, though, Clover stopped spending the whole of her night at my feet and started sleeping on top of the kittens’ kennel. When they mewed, Clover would become alert, worried. At this point, Clover and Nova share nanny duty full on, and I’ve caught Clover kissing these kittens more than just a few times.
Banksy, our obese Tortie who throws nonstop temper tantrums, is furious. Her favorite activity is lying belly-up wherever we are as long as it’s in the most high traffic area. She looks exactly like a leopard seal when she does this, for the record. I’m not sure why she’s so grumpy, but the kittens really bring it out of her — even more so than an empty food dish. And that is saying a lot. Several nights ago, Teller tried to approach her to play, but Banksy pulled her paw back to slap the baby. Faster than I could separate them, Clover and Nova were between kitten and Fat Fatty — Clover ready to fight, Nova poking Banksy backward with her dog snout. The kitten ran back to her siblings with Clover right behind her.
Right now it’s nap time for everybody. Clover’s on the kitten crate; Nova is in her Chill Out Cave aka the bedroom, which is the only way I can get Nova to stay away from her kittens so they can rest. Otherwise, Nova patrols the premises like a shark, protecting the babies from fat Banksys, intermittently nosing them to make sure they are responsive. Banksy is guarding her private food supply.
I’m staring at them all with a familiar pang. I know it’s temporary and that I’m a bridge for these guys. Today when the vet said, “One more week before you can adopt them out,” I looked at the cluster of furry young kittens and knew it was going to be a little tougher for me than usual. I’ve watched them grow from itsy bitsy, teeny tiny feral creatures into beings that love their human and domestic animal counterparts. Clover and Nova are going to miss their important job assignments, too.
So…one week before I deliver them to their spot in the rescued cat condo at the pet supply store where they’ll be certain to get the most exposure possible. Even though the employees there shower the cats with affection, I’m still compelled to check in on them daily like a mother hen until they’re…gone.
Let the adoption application review process begin. Sad face/happy face.
If you’re looking for one of the coolest kittens ever and live in the DFW area, please, let me know so I can forward an app. Photos are here.
As a side note, I’d like to add that not one, but TWO rescue groups offered to help place these kittens within the first week. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please understand there are always options available if you need assistance. Turning your back on homeless animals, especially in your neighborhood, is never the right solution and will only create further problems down the line for yourself, your resident animals, and your community.