News from the Kat Kingdom at Root Simple

Meet Buck.

Warning: Shameless, meandering cat narrative ahead. If you don’t like cats, all you can do at this point is turn away and sigh.

The big news here is that we’ve been suckered into taking another kitten–but there will be no more! We will not turn into crazy cat collectors. As it is, keeping three cats in this tiny house is ridiculous. They’re always everywhere, always staring at you, or tripping you, or sitting where you want to sit. We’d sworn only to have two cats, but two factors intervened. One is our neighbor Anne. The other is the shadow of the Grim Reaper.

Factor 1: Anne is a dangerous neighbor because she almost always has a kitten (or other needful creature) on hand, and can be quite ruthless in her drive to find them homes. The story behind this particular kitten is that a neighbor girl came to Anne and led her to a tiny kitten laying cold and dehydrated in a driveway, somehow separated from its litter. Anne said he was so far gone as to be stiff, and she thought he was a goner, but given some milk and warmth he rose up like Lazarus himself. (Or as Lazarus would be, had Lazarus been blessed with four white paws a perky little tail.) I saw him that same day and fed him a bottle. Anne is very good at tricking one into getting emotionally involved with the foundlings–this is how she got us to take the other two.  And to cut a long story short, that is how she got us to take this one.

Factor 1-B: I should mention that the kitten was a dead ringer for Trout at that age. I think they share genetics, as they come from the same street. It was very hard to reject a mini-Trout.

Factor 2: Phoebe seems happy and well enough right now (I don’t think you’d guess she was sick if you saw her), but medically speaking she is in decline. She has officially commenced heart failure, which means her lifespan is now measured in months. In fact, at a recent visit to the vet we found out she has not one but two distinct heart diseases, and the newly identified one is very rare in young cats. The vet is fascinated by her case. But it doesn’t change her outcome much, just makes it all the more inevitable.

Obviously she doesn’t have a lot of energy, but Trout does. The resulting dynamic between the two of them had become slightly worrisome. She could play with him for a bit, but then needed to rest. Trout didn’t understand that and would regularly disturb her naps by pouncing on her. She is pretty good about holding boundaries, and Trout is not too much of a jerk, but nonetheless when this kitten offer came around we realized a kitten would be an excellent distraction for Trout.

So yes, we basically we adopted this kitten as a toy for Trout– a toy that looks just like him. For some reason this reminds me of little girls with their American Girl dolls, dressed in identical outfits, playing in a solipsistic world. But anyway, it’s worked out well.

Of course we were worried about the “what ifs”  -  What if Trout and the kitten didn’t get along? What if the kitten beat up on Phoebe? But we trusted what we knew about all of them to believe it would all be fine.

The transition went like this: We threw them all together, but watched them. Trout was thrilled and stalked the kitten for the first day. The kitten was less than thrilled and bristled and yowled at Trout, and Trout would back off.  On the second day, someone threw a magic switch and all of a sudden the kitten and Trout were chasing, then they were wrestling, then they were spitting on their paws and promising to be blood brothers for ever and ever.

Phoebe, on the other hand, was horrified by the new arrival. She clutched her pearls and hissed and wouldn’t be in the same room as the kitten. But she would avidly watch him around corners. And after two days of sputtering indignation she got bored and came out to observe the kitten from high spots. After four days she and the kitten were playing chase games. At the end of the week all three cats were sleeping on our bed. We decided we would definitely keep him.

We named the kitten Buck. He’s bold and affectionate and eats like an alligator and though he is currently Trout’s toy, will likely rule the house very soon.

The two boys play and snuggle together as Phoebe and Trout never have. Phoebe is dignified and standoffish, whereas Trout is a goofball. In Buck he’s met his match. As a pair they generate cuteness levels that can actually make you lightheaded. They play all day, every day, and then sleep together in adorable postures. We spend far too much time watching those cats with glazed, stupid looks on our faces. Household productivity is way, way down.

Meanwhile, like us, Phoebe seems genuinely entertained by watching the boys. If Buck is Trout’s toy, the two of them together are Phoebe’s television set. She gets to sleep unmolested, and when it suits her, she plays with both of them. So all is well.

Phoebe kindly attends to our filing, to make up for lost household productivity

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18 Comments

  1. I have a dog with a rare and, to the vet, fascinating, liver disease. He’s only 2 and, like phoebe, looks well, whilst quietly not being. I am tempted to get another dog so his brother is less devastated when he goes and whilst he can cope with a new comer. Also a bit torn about disturbing the bond the two existiting ones have. Good luck with yours.

    • I’m so sorry about your dog. And I know those anxieties about bringing on a new pet very well.

      We went through the same worries with these cats, and also with our dog a few years ago. When our beloved dog was in decline I considered bringing in another dog just so *we* wouldn’t be so lost when he went–because at that time he was our only pet. But I couldn’t do it, fearing the new dog would be hard on him. As a result we mourned for a year with no pets and the house was very empty and quiet. Now we’re up to our eyeballs in cats. Life is strange.

      But anyway, it is hard to predict dynamics between animals. But I do believe that if the people in the house are happy and confident about the situation, the animals pick up on that and things go well, and conversely if the people are anxious, they pick up on that too.

      Overall, all you can do is trust your gut.

  2. Love this story. I know Anne and know how persistent she can be in rescuing and re-homing lost souls. I’m happy that it’s working out so perfectly for everyone.

  3. As endless as your neighbor’s supply of animals in need seems to be, I can guarantee that it is nothing compared to what we deal with here in the “third world”, where animal control and protection services are pretty much non-existent. I can say without hesitation that the hardest thing about living here is the constant sight of homeless animals suffering in the streets. We live in two tiny rooms and have 5 cats, all of whom we’ve rescued from certain death. We had a pretty stable flock of 4 for about a year and then along came a kitten who was screaming bloody murder in front of our house. We cared for her for a couple of weeks and our 4 were PISSED. One simply refused to be in the house for longer than was necessary to eat and drink some water. Fortunately, a friend adopted her and things were back to normal for a minute, but then came a grown tom who, unlike many adult street cats who are fine hunting rats and chasing tail (sorry), was desperate for some human loving. We had decided to go ahead and have him neutered and take him in when one day he showed up with an badly swollen paw. Turns out a screw worm (larvae of a fly that enters an open wound and eats the animal alive from the inside out – really quite revolting) had gotten in there. The vet who got the worm out and neutered him said he would have lost the paw within a few days and died within a week or so – what a lucky cat to have latched on to suckers like us.

    Anyway, on the cat interpersonal relationship thing, as furious as ours were when the kitten showed up, you’d think they’d be that much more irate with the interloping adult male, right? Not so much. They don’t really pay him any mind. Well, what are you going to do – cats have very small brains :)

    Congratulations on your new addition. (Btw, we too swore there would be no more than 3…)

  4. I think the world of you for taking Phoebe in and giving her love and a home for her short life, and I’ll be bawling like a baby when you tell us that she’s gone. Congrats on the new addition!

  5. I am not a cat person; I am an allergy person. But, those are adorable pictures. Over the years my sister convinced policemen to climb down manholes and climb in dumpsters AT NIGHT to rescue kittens she heard mewing. It helped that her husband was a police officer. She always tried to foist them off on me. Her downstairs was full–two dogs, two cats, two birds. Then she had two horses, a donkey, and a mule in stable. I never got it.

    I visited a friend who had at least 20 other guests that night. The cat insisted on sitting on my lap, despite my putting it down and trying to keep it off me. She said that cat never wanted to come out for even her. Despite other guests taking the cat and petting it and talking to it, the cat wriggled away and jumped back onto my lap. Maybe I am a cat person.

    Those two definitely are related!

  6. Buck is gorgeous!
    We’ve got 3 (and 2 dogs) and that’s okay. I reckon after 5 you become the crazy cat people. DH won’t let me test my theory.

  7. we have 5. why do we have 5 cats, you ask? Because if you bring one home, i can’t take it to a shelter. My husband has, so far, been responsible for 3 of them. Our last was a kitten he found by the side of the road, curled up next to his poor mom, who was deceased.I lost my buddy, max, a little over a year ago, after 13 yrs together. I miss him every day, but i wouldn’t change a thing.

  8. We have three cats now but when we rescued five kittens from a friend of my daughters friend we were up to seven. We kept two of the kittens. One, Sir Cuddles had severe genetic health issues and fairly severe mental retardation, but he lived and loved with abandon. He lived one year five months and now nine months later i still miss him dearly. I am a dog person, but Cuddles bonded with me and I did my best to make his short life wonderful. Its hard, but I know when our current pets pass I will be adopting the unadoptable so that they have love and happiness for the end of their
    days.

  9. i think that is my favorite kitten picture ever! i have crazy awesome kitties, but gaw! just so damned cute! (and my kitten has 5 extra toes!)

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