Today is a special day in our home. On Sept. 5th of 2009, my daughter Emily came into the house bursting with excitement. She'd found a tiny kitten under a wheelbarrow in the yard. Now you must understand - I had successfully avoided giving in to the "can we have a pet" plea for a long while. Four children is plenty enough responsibility thank you very much. A pet means more work for me. A pet means increased bills (vet visits, pest treatments, food, toys and so on.) A pet means arranging for care when we go on vacation and figuring out how to bring an animal along when we are forced to evacuate for hurricanes.
I didn't want a pet. My Emily did. She is the animal lover here. Animal Planet is her favorite TV station. There was no way I could look at her face and say that we couldn't keep that scrawny bag of fur. I did say that she first had to go to all of the neighbors to make sure that the kitten wasn't for them. No one claimed it. It was so tiny that we couldn't imagine that it had wandered far on it's own. Later I found out that our local shelter had just begun imposing a drop off fee for unwanted animals, so I suppose it's likely that someone decided that our yard was a less costly place to dispose of the creature.
Since there was no way I was allowing it in my house, Emily and I built a makeshift home out of spare bricks, wood and chicken wire. I'm not totally heartless. I wanted it to stay safe! At the store, I bought kitty chow, flea bath and a flea collar...plus a couple of toys. Later we got a tag for the collar. Emily checked for important parts, declared the kitten a "girl" and dubbed her "Cookies and Cream" - Cookies for short. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to call her that. To me, the kitten was and will forever be "Ke-kat."
In those early weeks, I discovered something important about the kitten. When ever I noticed Ke-kat digging a hole, I knew to get away - FAST. You see, kitten poop happens to be the absolute worst smelling stuff on the face of the earth. They bury it in order to survive. No creature could stand being near that foul odor for long. No creature but Emily of course. She didn't care if the kitten pooped on her shirt. And it did sometimes. Especially when we gave it milk. Emily searched the internet and decided that milk wasn't good for Cookies. As the person who does the laundry here, I completely agreed.
After a couple of months we realized that we didn't want MORE kittens, so I checked around to see about getting Ke-kat fixed. The local vets wanted $200 for the operation. It was explained to me that the procedure was more intensive for female kittens. I understood that, but wasn't ready to shell out so much, so I kept looking. A friend told me about the SPCA in New Orleans. There it would cost us a mere $50 for the "fix" and another $40 for the shots. We packed Ke-kat up and took her in. Later that morning, I got a call telling me that HE was ready for pick up. ummm...excuse me? He? Yep. He.
I should have figured out earlier that s/he was a he. After all, every time he sees me, he immediately lies down and stretches so that I will bend over to scratch his belly. It's not that I think that I should have seen certain parts that would have given me a clue. I'm just pretty sure that a female would totally ignore my existence. Ke-kat, however, loves me. He brings me presents often. Not a week goes by that I don't open my door to find a dead frog, dragonfly or lizard waiting for me. When I garden, he showers me with attention by leaping out of his "hiding place" in the flowers and grabbing my hand. When I have gardening gloves on, he isn't shy about sinking his claws in - I can only assume that's because he wants to pull them off in order to view my hands better. Thankfully he doesn't use his claws when he uses the same move on my legs to prevent me from stepping back into my house.
Yes, Ke-kat loves me. He doesn't have a clue that, a year ago, I was secretly hoping that Emily would come home with news that he actually belonged to one of our neighbors. He doesn't care that I was furious with him after he ripped apart the screen on the dining room window or that I shoo him down from the top of my van each time I catch him up there. Ke-kat is part of our family and he knows it. He loves me...and I kinda like him too.
Happy "found you under a wheelbarrel" Day Ke-kat!