Markie likes to hold Monkey down to make sure she isn't going anywhere and Monkey likes to gloat with satisfaction at having fooled the silly hoomans.
When I last wrote about the kitten adventures of myself and my husband John, we were making plans to find good homes for the four little stinkers.
We had agreed they should be adopted in pairs and had designated Monster and Monkey as one pair and Markie and Morris as pair number two. Fortunately, we have great friends and two of them, a married couple who live in Spencer, had agreed to take the first pair off of our hands.
The couple, who I shall call Salt and Pepa (we have always suspected they may be wanted by law enforcement in a distant state so we will keep their real names private. I’M KIDDING.) have a daughter who is a wonderful young lady and they are wonderful people themselves, so we knew Monster and Monkey would have a perfect forever home with them.
They arranged a pick-up date with us on a weekend in October when the kittens were 11 weeks old.
The dreaded date loomed ahead and we steeled ourselves for it, with the consolation of the knowledge our foster furbabies would be loved and well-taken care of easing the pain we felt at their leaving our home.
I will admit it, Monster and Monkey were our favorites, the pair being the first two to arrive at our house and the only two to be bottle-fed and given flea baths in the sink by us. Speaking of, I will never forget the confused and bewildered expressions on their little kitty faces as they suffered the indignity of the bath. It was hilarious...
I digress. The day arrived and we nervously paced around, me packing and repacking a little kit to send along with them which included a month’s worth of flea medication, some cans of the kitten food they liked the best, a captive ball toy they played with nonstop and Monster’s “wubbie”, a soft purple monster toy with a pressure-activated insert that would purr loudly for two minutes at a time to comfort the lil’ fellers. Often, after a bottle feeding, Monster would snuggle up to the fuzzy beast after I activated the purring mechanism, kneading the creature with her tiny paws and falling fast asleep with a full belly and a head full of whatever kittens dream about. We also included a handful of the many little toys we had accumulated for kittens, fuzzy ones, scrunchy ones and ones that looked like mice and fish.
They stayed for a nice visit, the humans catching up on current events and the kittens racing around like idiots, which was their specialty,
We discussed vet schedules, feeding patterns and litter habits and then it was time for Monster and Monkey to leave the nest.
I was fine up until that final few minutes, until the two kittens, one grey and one grey-and-white, were gathered up and gently placed into the cat carrier our friends had bought to safely transport their fuzzy bundles home. Our friends were excited, and that made us happy. We all made promises to send pictures and they assured us they would keep us updated through the next few days with their new pets. That helped, it really did.
The moment the three of them began their descent from our second floor down to the first, my emotions got the better of me and I had to turn away, quickly rushing into the bathroom to do my crying there.
Frankly, those two kittens had part of our hearts and it was hard to let them go but knowing they would be kept inside like ours are, away from cars and dogs and bullies and fleas, felt like such a blessing that the separation was possible to bear.
Little Monkey, though.....that little girl had really grabbed my heart. She was the one who was dreadfully sick during the first week in our home, with an upper respiratory infection that left her terribly stuffed up, unable to freely breathe and lethargic. The sight of a lethargic kitten fills new-kitten owners with dread, as kittens are so defenseless to begin with and when sick, they can fade quickly. We were fortunate to be able to obtain some emergency antibiotics on a Sunday for her and I’ll never forget giving her the first couple of doses, telling her very seriously that she was going to feel better soon and fending off the playful attacks of her sister Monster when she was just too sick to play. I remember huddling with her under a blanket over a steaming pot of water with peppermint oil, in an effort to help clear her blocked nasal passages to help her breathe. I remember her looking at me with complete trust and vowing to validate that trust by getting her better. I remember how good it felt to see her recovering and the first time she waited in ambush to pounce on Monster’s head with the fury only a kitten can unleash, I cheered and woo-hooed and knew she would be okay.
So that night, I cried a little more and waited for pictures from our friends. They sent several and we could see the babies were doing just fine in the loving home they had joined.
But I missed my Monkey...the pretty little fool who would sashay as she walked away, her insouciant tail flipping to-and-fro in an invitation to chase her, her little round face as she looked you straight in the eye to convey some message or another. She was my cuddle-kitty and I wanted to cuddle. I kept the bedroom door closed that night, it was too sad to leave it open like I used to do for Monkey. It was a rather long night.
The next day, while calling the herd of felines to dinner, I noticed the grey kitten acting funny. By funny, I mean meowing at me to hurry up the dinner service like Monkey used to do and sashaying away like a sassy drag queen after eating...like Monkey used to do...
I shook the feeling off, chalking it up to wishful thinking but as the day went on, I became more and more convinced that, somehow, we still had ourselves a Monkey and our friends had actually gained a Morris.
The feeling was cemented that evening when, out of nowhere, said grey kitten leapt onto my bed, making a beeline up my body to my chin, purring loudly and rubbing her little face on mine. I picked her up, looked into her eyes and there she was. Monkey. That round dumb face, those staring-contest-champion eyes, this was definitely Monkey.
I had said something to John the previous night, but he brushed me off (either that or he didn’t hear me).
But now I was convinced. As he stood, letting Markie climb his jeans from his ankles to his hips, I picked up the little grey kitten and said “Look. Look at that face and tell me that isn’t Monkey.” I turned her around and lifted her tail, saying “Do you see the little lumps that made Morris a Morris and not a Mary-Lou? Look at her face again.”
The light went on in his eyes and delight shone on his face.
“That IS Monkey!” he said. The obvious joy he felt told me that he too had fallen for the little stinker and had fallen hard.
“Welp,” he said, “Are you gonna tell Salt and Pepa or should I?” I volunteered to break the news, mostly because it was pretty funny and I wanted to be the first to see how they reacted to the fact that we had all been fooled by the fuzzy little things.
I told our friends we would settle the mix-up whatever way they chose while crossing my fingers that they would keep things as they were.
“Are you kidding?” they said. They also said ha ha ha ha ha and words to that effect. “How could we let go of this sweet little grey guy? (meaning Morris, who they thought was Monkey)”
John and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Not long after that, the two of us were standing in the kitchen. It was feeding time and as we watched the two remaining kittens, Monkey (yay!) and Markie (also yay!) devour their meals, John surprised me.
“I guess we’re going to keep both of these, aren’t we?” he said. “We could find them good homes I guess, but we’re not gonna do that, are we?” Somehow, with zero discussion, we had both been secretly hoping to keep Monkey and Markie in the Danner family with Zephyr and Meep.
“Nope,” I said. “We’re not gonna do that, are we?”
Patti is a Staff Writer for the Greene County Daily World. She loves to laugh and also loves kitties. If you would like to share a story or just make a friend, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.