We made a trip to Berkeley Springs yesterday after church to help Michael load a display case he recently acquired into his house. On his way home from work, he saw it sitting along the side of the road in front of a local business and decided he wanted to salvage it. It appears we have taught him self-reliant living tactics well. It needs a little rehab work, but it can be saved and satisfy it’s intended purpose well. We agreed it was a good acquisition for him.
Before moving the display case into his guest bedroom, we ate our lunch on his front porch. Hot and humid weather is returning to our area after a welcomed ten-day hiatus, so we decided to enjoy the lingering pleasant weather outdoors. While we were talking and eating, Barb noticed what appeared to be four stray kittens lounging in the shade of a large bush at the corner of his property. I guessed that they might be between ten and twelve weeks old.
Only one of them was immediately friendly and approached me eagerly as I investigated them more closely. She was a black Calico with coloring that strongly resembled a younger version of our cat, Calli. The most apparent distinguishing feature is that the new kitten has lost the tip of her left ear, perhaps in a desperate scrap with another cat. The kitten was very affectionate and clearly suffering from malnutrition. Mike brought some cat food on a plate and we tried to feed them. Only the black Calico and a yellow-striped male were fearless enough to accept the offer, but the other two did not run away. Mike decided he would call the Humane Society today to make sure the kittens would be cared for.
However, I decided (contrary to Barb’s better judgement), that I’d like to try bringing the black Calico home with us to join our Calli on Peeper Pond Farm. They look so similar to each other that I thought they might eventually get along okay. Perhaps, I tried to reason, Calli would treat her as though she was one of her own kittens. Having made the commitment, I’m not so sure now.
We brought the new kitten home with us in the afternoon. The kitten somehow forced the door of Mike’s cat carrier open (which we borrowed for the trip) as we were driving down the highway. Moments later, she emerged between my legs from under the driver’s seat. She was just too affectionate to be contained. She roamed around the car for a while, appealing for attention, but was (surprisingly) not uncomfortable with or fearful of the ride. At one point, she stretched herself up onto the steering wheel apparently eager to help me drive her home. We have certainly made a pattern of adopting animals with very curious and distinctive behavior patterns. Barb managed to capture an amusing picture of her driving skills.
Along the trip, I suggested we name her “Peppersass.” That is the name of the now 150-year-old antique cog steam engine that was used for generations to push tourists up Mount Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire and one of the highest in the entire Appalachian Mountain chain. With a horsepower rating of only 47, it was the original little engine that could. That seemed an appropriate name for the kitten we claimed which was determined and fearless enough to endear herself to a new caretaker, force her way out of her cat carrier, and try to drive herself home. We decided that her nickname will be “Sassy.”
We brought her into the house when we returned. Calli came in briefly to get her supper, and I kept them apart so Calli would not be distracted from her eating. I also wanted to introduce them to each other only after Calli returned home for the night. I felt if she reacted poorly to the kitten while she was eating, we might have a difficult time getting her to come in for the night. That was a good decision.
When Calli did come into the house for the night, she met Peppersass for the first time and reacted badly. She had an immediate hissy fit over the little kitten and sought a hiding place under our bed, where she spent most all of the night. Peppersass wasn’t sure what to make of her reception, so she spent the entire night between us on our bed with Calli periodically growling and snarling at her from underneath. Peppersass was so scared of Calli that she patrolled the bed constantly for hours, trying to see her by peering over the edges of the mattress. She woke us up occasionally throughout the night seeking friendly reassurance. At least she has managed to learn how to use the cat box on her first night without error. I have raised so many cats that I have a long-established record of rapidly and successfully training them to use the cat box.
I decided not let Calli out of the house this morning as a way to encourage them to overcome their mutual fears. Calli had a similar reaction to our goats when they returned to our farm last year, but she eventually overcame her objections and can now be found in the goat pen and barn casually ignoring their presence while she hunts for field mice and other prey. She now lets the goats sniff her and she will sniff them as well. This gradual indifference over time is what gives me hope that Calli will eventually get over her objections to Peppersass, but I’m not prepared to conclude it will eventually occur. If the situation doesn’t measurably improve over the next several days, I may have to find a new home for our little Peppersass. I was encouraged to discover that, by lunchtime, Calli was willing to nuzzle and seek attention from me, where she was hissing and spitting at me when I tried to get her out from under the bed early this morning.
We will be taking Peppersass to visit Dr. Kittleburger, Calli’s vet, for a check-up, a kitten flea treatment, and an estimate of when we should schedule her to be spayed. For now, we have two black Calico cats trying to share our Peeper Pond Farm. Wish us luck. At least when they may, at some point in the future, be hunting out in our hayfield at the same time, we can use our binoculars to distinguish one from the other. Peppersass will be the one with the stubby left ear.