Our new kitten, Peppersass, that we brought to our farm on Sunday, August 23, thoroughly enjoyed living with us. She is a playful, affectionate kitten that made herself right at home with us. Unfortunately, our resident cat, Calli, wanted nothing to do with her. She would snarl and growl at her whenever Peppersass was in view and even attacked her several times when we weren’t standing between them. Having lived three years at our farm and forced by circumstances to defend her territory from other stray cats in our area, Calli perceived Peppersass as a threat and refused to accept her. We worked with them for nearly a week before concluding we would need to find a new home for Peppersass.
It was a sad admission for us both. We had learned to appreciate Peppersass’ unbounded affection for us and her unreservedly playful behavior, as she joyfully flitted about our house. She quickly learned to play fetch with a thick rubber band we got from a batch of broccoli we bought and to carry her toy ping pong ball around in her mouth, so she could drop it and make it bounce. She quickly earned our affection. Once we decided we needed to find her a new home, we spread the word among our friends, fully expecting that she would make a great housecat for any number of elderly people we know. In fact, I suggested to a good friend of ours, who serves on the Board of Directors for our local nursing home, that she would make a great companion cat for the people living there—especially during the Coronavirus epidemic which greatly limits family and friend visitations. It seemed to us that it would just be a matter of time before someone expressed an interest in adopting her.
The ease with which she adapted to her new surroundings, her boundless affection, and her small size for her apparent age led us all to conclude that she had been a stray for some time. However, when we took her back to the vet the following week to have her spayed, our vet discovered (as he prepared her for surgery) that she had scars on her belly from having been previously spayed. Suddenly, we realized that someone in Berkeley Springs had cared for her. We asked Mike to visit his neighbors and contact the local veterinarian offices in town to see if he could find out if she had a prior home and who may have had her spayed. Later that afternoon, he called us back to tell us he had found her original home two doors down from his house. Her owner kept a large number of predominantly outdoor cats that tended to wander around the neighborhood. Peppersass was one of them.
Mike also learned that Peppersass was actually one year old. This came as a complete shock to us. We had estimated her age to be between ten and twelve weeks old when we found her because of her small size and weight. However, our vet informed us (to his own surprise) that she had all of her adult teeth, so she was at least six months old. Now we were being told that she was actually a year old, which was very hard to believe given her overall condition. However, we decided that we didn’t have the right to keep her when her owner wanted her back. Consequently, we packed up her favorite toys and some of the food she was eating and returned her to her rightful owner on Thursday, September 3.
While Peppersass’ return has made Calli happy, it has left us with a sense of loss, both because she had earned a place in our hearts and because we are concerned about her future. We don’t know how much attention and protection she would receive from her former family, especially because we could see that she lost the tip of her left ear in a previous scrap with another cat. However, when I turned her loose at her previous home, she appeared fully comfortable with her surroundings. At least we can say we gave her a good home for the eleven days that she remained to us. By the way, we found the last piece of information we learned about her to be strangely ironic. Her owner told us that they had named the kitten, Callie, because she was a calico kitten. We had named our own cat Calli for the same reason. Peppersass (as we had named her) had also lived with us for exactly eleven days, which is the same length of time that our own Calli disappeared earlier this year. I guess all the little ironies help make our lives more interesting.
We just hope that little Peppersass will have the good life she so richly deserves. She certainly brightened ours for the time she stayed with us.