Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fredo, my big boy kitten, is a whirligig right now. I think he has ADD. He plays with the piece of paper I wadded up for him, then jumps at the dog's leash hanging on the hook, runs across the room, stops, looks at me and runs the other way, jumping up on the desk. He's the orange tabby with an attitude, about 8 months old, and probably weighs 12 pounds. He's bigger than his momma and he's not done growing.

He just walked calmly by, as though the previous spurt of frenzied activity never happened. Looking for trouble? Probably.

When he was a baby, his mom, Carly, used to move him and his littermates from the spare room closet to the closet in our bedroom. Since I wanted peace and quiet there and not turn our bedroom into a cat nursery, I would gather them all up and deliver them back to their cardboard box in the other room. She and I would go around and around like this for half an hour until she got confused and quit. And the next day, she and I would begin the process of mobilizing her kittens to and fro across the hallway again.

Sometimes, I would come home from work and find assorted disoriented kittens all alone in odd places like the middle of the hallway or in my closet. Fredo was one of the frequently abandoned kittens ending up in the closet, forgotten while the litter remained in the spare room with their mother feeding them in the cardboard box. He didn't fuss, he'd just lay there, waiting for mom to come get him again. I'd pick him up to take him back, and his mom would look at me in horror, like, how did that happen? Talk about ADD. My guess was that she'd start moving her litter, and then next thing she knew, it was lunch time and forgot that she had Fredo in my bedroom closet.

So, the other day, as I organized that closet, Fredo would jump in there purring, rolling around in the corner where his mom used to leave him eight months ago. I wonder how he remembered that spot. After laying there in kitty rapture, he'd walk up to his mom, and try to cuddle with her, but she growled at him to leave her alone. I woke up this morning to see her lying in her favorite spot in the hallway, with Fredo a few inches away with his paw extended to her, touching her tail. From what I could see, she was entirely indifferent to him. She was done being his mom.

One morning, Fredo was taken to the vet to get neutered and was gone for two days while he was in recovery. Carly was a different cat without him around, she began to be her old affectionate self around us. She slept on Dennis' legs, she rolled around on the bed and wanted me to pet her. I realized that not only did she withdraw from her son, she also withdrew from us in his presence. I don't know what this means in cat logic.

I did read that mother cats would drive their kittens away from them when they were old enough to fend for themselves. I did notice that Carly did not grieve for her litter as they left for other homes, and they stayed with us longer than most kittens stay. We kept Fredo because he was hand raised by us, and I knew that was a very rare opportunity these days as most litters are bred by strays. Carly herself is a stray and her trust in us was hard won. She is a part time outside cat, simply because it is impossible to keep her in without her scratching the floor next to the door into shreds. She has brought us mice and small birds as trophies of her hunting prowess. The mice I'm impressed with, the birds I feel sorry for.

At night, on the way to bed, I stop to pet her in the hallway, and sweep her into my arms to take with me into our room. She purrs loudly and doesn't try to get away like she usually does. It is our routine, and she knows that it means that she is welcome to be with us, that she is loved. What endears me most about this is how she doesn't beg or ask for it, but she receives it wholeheartedly as though it meets the secret longings of her heart. Perhaps, in her cat way, she wanted to be closer to us while taking care of her babies and that was why she was trying so hard to get them in our closet and out of the spare room.

Perhaps, I should have let her for a few nights.

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