It began about a week ago with the appearance of those kittens I told you about in the last post. They started sleeping in the space between our kitchen door and the screen door, piled on top of each other, trying to avoid the rain. I tried, as quickly as possible, to find homes for them so that I wouldn't get attached. But when I woke up each morning to find one sleeping in my flower pot, another sleeping pressed up against the door, another mewing at me with his feet on the glass -- I couldn't help it. I became attached to them. I knew my very small window of opportunity for giving them away without trauma was slipping closed. "We could keep all of them," Andrew suggested. Uh-oh. Must act quickly.
Andrew and I decided to catch them and bathe them, since they were covered in fleas, so we could begin finding homes for them. This was easier said than done. Worm, the black-and-white kitten above, walked right into the house, rolled over on his back, and purred. Everyone else put up a deadly fight. After we finally managed to pick up the first one, she shredded us both. Our hands dripped blood and we were clawed from finger to elbow. We dumped her in the (empty) bathtub. When we went to get the others, we wore gloves, which both kittens bit all the way through. Did I mention they were leather?
After some time standing in the rain and one can of tuna later, everyone was in the tub, washed, shivering, and resembling drowned rats. They eyed me resentfully.
I put them all in a box and trudged up to evening church, which was just letting out, and I pushed my way through the people trying to leave. "Would you like a kitten?" I pleaded. "Please take a kitten." Most people were amused but uninterested. Until Jackson. Jackson, who is a little boy, began pulling on his mother's pants. "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM. MOM. MOM!" "Yes Jackson?" "Mom, I want one." And so he got it. One down. Three to go.
But the church was empty. No one was left, and I still had two babies to go (Worm, for complex reasons I won't go into, was still at my house). Jackson had picked my 2nd favorite, and I felt my chest go tight but I knew I should just be glad someone had taken him who'd play with him.
The other two, on the other hand, were demons incarnate. Every time someone tried to touch them, they'd swipe and snarl and growl and hiss and not in an endearing way. What was I going to do? (In case you're wondering at this point, I don't take animals I've fallen in love with to animal shelters to be euthanized. I just can't do it. Oh, and yes, it is possible to love even demon-cats, if they're 4 inches long.)
One person who remained at the church, washing dishes after the evening meal, said, "Take them to Walmart and give them to people there." This sounded like a very distressing and rather embarrassing thing to do. But these devils were not going home with me. I swallowed all pride and positioned myself in front of the electronic doors, holding a big red plastic box with a towel draped over it to prevent the escape artists from leaving.
"Would you like a kitten?" I asked. Eyebrows raised, lips pursed -- some shook their heads, but most just ignored me. "Would you like a kitten? Please take a kitten," I begged. Everyone looked suspicious of me and the box. I could see them trying to work out what I was doing; was I nuts? was I homeless? I didn't look homeless. I didn't look nuts. But who else stands outside of superstores and talks to strangers?
Children peered in, charmed, but their parents snatched them by the back of the shirt and towed them to the car. "Would you like a kitten?" I asked, by this time nearly overwhelmed -- embarrassed that I looked pathetic, upset I might not give away the animals, depressed at having to give away creatures I'd come to love even though they ruined my potted plants -- and then two sisters approached me. "Oh no we don't need a cat. But let me see it." So I did. Just as the first one was about to put her hand in the box, I went to stop her, trying to say "Oh they're a bit nervous, so don't. . ." but she did anyway, grabbing the cat by the nape of the neck. This little twisted possessed ball of fur went absolutely limp in her hand. No teeth, no screaming, just stillness. She put the animal to her chest and it began to purr, which it had never done before. The other sister did the same thing with the 2nd kitten, with the same results. "My God!" I said, awestruck. "You have to take these animals! They've shredded every human that got within 10 feet of them. They're meant for you." And oddly enough, neither sister, like their new kittens, put up much of a fight. They sighed. "We're such suckers," they said, taking the animals to their necks and carrying them home.
I was left with Wormwood (originally misnamed Wormtail -- it appears I mixed Lewis and Rowling, which is either a sign of too little reading, or too much). The next day I carried him to three different people. The first was a friend who agreed to be his temporary home while we searched for another; I didn't last the night. I had to pick him up again. The next was a mere acquaintance; she greeted me with, "Oh no I can't have a cat," and when I let her hold him before leaving, I dissolved into sobs. This was very odd behavior for me, not just because I'm 28 and grown people don't cry over small animals but because I'm not a sentimental weepy woman. I'm kind of stubborn and fairly level headed. And I'm definitely the practical one in this household. I could not adequately explain to this person that I was never like this, nor was I able to pull myself together.
Taking Worm back in the car, I pointed my vehicle to the next place I'd try to give him away, but I couldn't see the road for all of the crying. He licked my face, tracing the tracks of tears down my neck. I threw my hands up (metaphorically -- I was still driving) and gave in. It was not economically feasible to have a fifth animal, and it would mean more hair, more litterbox cleanings, more food. More shots. More flea medicine. But for some reason, the rational part of my brain that always wins -- that always carefully balances pros and cons -- lost out. And I took him home. And now he's ours.