Shortly before Christmas my family made quite an impulsive decision to adopt two kittens. We had lost one of our two cats in early November and while I liked the idea of naturally downsizing to no pets, I somehow ended up at the shelter on a cold Saturday. My daughter had been asking for a kitten since she was about 5 and has written us countless letters pleading her case, she’s checked out every book the library has about cats and their care, and each time a pet dies in our house she unfailingly asks if we can get a kitten before the critter’s body is even cold. My husband said that kittens were a lot of work, a point I shrugged off, remembering that we had had a kitten 12 years ago and that wasn’t so bad. I’ve learned that having a kitten is like having a newborn – you forget a lot about those early months.
Upon entering the shelter with my kiddo, we made our way to the kitten kennels and were soon face to face with two of the most adorable faces I had ever seen. Two orange tabby kitten faces were pressing their faces against the bars of their cage. I swear on everything holy and sacred, they looked like Puss in Boots from Shrek when he makes those big eyes.
It was love at first sight for my daughter and I. I quickly flagged down a volunteer and staked my claim (good thing, since after I did several families noticed our kitties and fell in love). Two hours later, we walked into the house with two kittens.
It wasn’t too bad at first. The kittens are litter mates and very sweet. They love to be held and snuggle, much to the delight of two of my girls. My middle daughter is not a fan of cats so she’s ambivalent about the new additions. To my amazement, the kittens have even accepted that they will be the objects of desire to my toddler, who loves them too much.
“Huggy! I want huggy!” the toddler screams, chasing them around until she catches one.
“Sadie, put the kitten down. Gentle, Sadie, gentle. Stop, Sadie, stop! No pulling the kitten’s tail!” have all become familiar refrains in our house. Yet the toddler has not been scratched, bitten, or snubbed by the kittens.
About a week after their arrival is when I realized we were probably in over our heads. Our Christmas tree was up, you see, and initially they had ignored it. Then they got wind of the fact that there was a giant tree in our house and simply had to climb it. Soon I began hearing “Mom, the kittens are in the tree again!” several times a day. Literally. They were in the tree. Ornaments were lost. Lights drooped. Presents were attacked and unwrapped. Ribbons and bows popped up all over the house. The tree shook constantly. Christmas Eve dinner was spent crossing my fingers that the tree would not topple over during what I could only assume was their attempt at running through their cat-made obstacle course. And if I got mad, they pulled their Puss in Boots crap.
I assumed that the tree being gone would calm things down but no, the kittens are smart and found other ways to get their crazies out. They started a Fight Club. Yep, every night at midnight –like, on the freaking stroke of twelve- they begin to fight like there is no tomorrow, winner takes all. They start on our bed, rolling and tumbling and meowing. It’s rather unsettling to be abruptly awoken from slumber to such activity, particularly when you think a kitten wants to snuggle next to you and out of nowhere another kitten flies onto your head to attack. When they’re kicked out of our room, they make their way to other bedrooms. My middle daughter’s room is a favorite locale of the kittens, thanks to her curtains, and she is none too pleased nor does it endear them to her.
“Get out! Just get out!” we hear her yelling at 12:30am or so. Sighing, one of us will remove the kittens. It took us awhile to realize the solution was to just shut her door so she could sleep. Then we started closing our toddler’s room when she would be the victim of Fight Club – even her crib was not immune to their antics. On a regular basis, just like with a newborn, my husband and I have to get up with the kittens to move them or see what the heck is the going on or broken. Exhausted and irritated, we’re met with Puss in Boots.
I haven’t even gotten to the food issue. It’s crazy. These dumb kittens are used to canned food. We buy dry food. They didn’t eat for about three days after we brought them home and I finally hit the local pet store where I learned how to raise kittens organically. I walked out with grain-free canned food with names like “On The Cat Wok” and descriptions like “savory shredded chicken, peas, and carrots in pumpkin soup.” What?! These kittens eat better than we do, and after a few weeks of spending an insane amount of money on this crazy cat food I said we had to put a stop to it – we would go broke. Besides, they weren’t even eating the peas and carrots. So we’re slowly weaning them away and they are loudly protesting but going along with it.