Friday, November 2, 2007


It was "treat time" that made me weaken. I thought about it all the next day and decided to do what I had to do...I went and adopted one of the kittens at the clinic.

There were two kittens left: a male, gray and white longhair; and a female, gray, tan and white calico. The male was a little more perky and outgoing; the female was shyer. It was a tough choice - I even had names picked out for both of them - but I finally decided on the female kitten with the beautiful fluffy calico fur. I confidently put her name down in the vet's records as Sinead. I swear I wasn't thinking of the skinheaded singer. It just seemed like a nice, old-fashioned name that would coordinate well with Tyrone (who shares his name with a county in Northern Ireland, after all).

I brought Sinead home and, in keeping with expert advice on introducing a new kitten to the home, I closed her up in my bedroom with her own food, water, and litterbox, plus a bed made out of a carrying kennel and an old towel. I took heroic measures to keep Tyrone out of the room, so that Sinead could have time to adjust to her new space. Change is very stressful for cats...and so are other cats.

Well, Sinead disappeared for 24 hours. I didn't blog about it until now because I didn't have anything to report on our relationship; there simply was none. I turned her loose in my bedroom. She didn't leave the box until I left the room. I came back a few hours later and the box was empty, but there was no kitten to be seen. I called for her, searched for her, waited for her to show up. Finally, from about 1 to 3 in the morning, I moved everything off all my bookshelves and looked under them - the one place I hadn't checked before. I had just restacked the third of four bookcases in my bedroom (!!!) when, on an impulse, I decided to ransack the closet one more time. That was when I saw her poking her head out from under the fourth and last bookcase. I pulled her out, hoping at least to introduce her to the food, water, and kitty litter...but she scratched me and ran away to hide again. So I decided to leave her alone and hope she would come around on her own.

She hadn't come around by the time I came home from work today. I was distressed to see no paw-impressions on the fresh kitty litter I had set out 24 hours earlier. I couldn't tell whether she had eaten or drunk anything. For all the world it looked like she had stayed under a bookcase for a night and a day. I started to wonder how long I should let this go on before getting seriously concerned, so I called the vet's office for advice. They said to call them on Monday if things hadn't changed. I figured by then I would be fishing a dead kitten out from under a bookcase.

I decided to let it go. I went to a movie. I thought about the time I adopted Tyrone. When I brought him home, his immediate impulse was to run and hide. I searched high and low and finally found him in a hole behind the baseboard under a cabinet the previous resident had installed. Thanks to shoddy workmanship, there was a loose piece of baseboard that the cat had managed to push aside, and behind it was a space I could just fit my arm into...right up to the get Tyrone out. I then had to repair the hole so it wouldn't happen again. Eventually, Tyrone came around, so I figured Sinead would do the same. In fact, he has become more and more affectionate over the years.

Then I thought about adopting Lionel. Unlike Tyrone and Sinead, he didn't hide or cower when he came home with me. He jumped right up on my lap and demanded to be loved. In those early days I called Tyrone the "looker" and Lionel the "lover." From the very first moment, he was in my face, purring, nuzzling, cuddling. That's a cat I'll miss.

I came home from the movies and called for Sinead again. Eventually I spotted her behind one of the bookcases, looking up at me. I couldn't reach her from there, and I had no intention of unstacking the books and moving the shelf again, so I dug out a long-handled, wooden backscratcher and scratched her under the chin. She purred! She moved toward me, loving the attention. When I pulled the backscratcher away, her paw followed it. I can only hear Tyrone's purr when he's right up against me, but Sinead's purr carried through a bookcase jammed with books.

Eventually - after a lot of coaxing - she came out into the open and rubbed against me a little, sniffed around me, let me touch her with my hands a couple of times, but mostly just let me scratch her with the wooden thing. It was the funniest thing. The least sudden move - even an unexpected move that wasn't particularly sudden - even a move away from her - would make her start and begin to withdraw behind the shelves. But a little teasing with the backscratcher would bring her forth again.

It isn't much. It didn't last very long. But it's progress!

EDIT: By the way, the boy cat's name would have been Baxter.

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