Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Joy of Kittens

The notice caught my eye despite my efforts to ignore it. It was a picture and description of a two-month old flame point Siamese kitten named Prince Charming, available for adoption from Friends for Life in Gilbert, AZ.

                            The Official Shelter Portrait: Prince Charming                                

I stared at the notice, memories of my beloved flame point Marina, who died of leukemia two years ago at the age of only three-and-a-half, came flooding back. Marina was the only cat I've adopted who wasn't a kitten, but a young adult. She had been given up by two families complaining of her emotional neediness. But Marina not only needed love and attention, she also gave at least as much as she got. She sang and trilled with joy when Bob and I got home from work. She slept on my pillow. She worked with me in therapy with conflicted families, soothing them with her warmth and making them smile with silly antics. Once relaxed, they began to resolve their problems with new calm and cooperation.

                     My beloved Marina (2006-2010), my first flame-point Siamese                

No cat can ever replace another.

Still, another flame-point, a kitten....

It was just too tempting.

Bob and I adopted him a week ago and are totally immersed in the joys and challenges of living with a kitten.

We're kitten-proofing the house again and discovering that this one is more athletic than most -- taking pleasure in weaving himself through wood blinds, jumping into the entertainment center shelves, and, impossibly, squeezing under the bureau drawers in our bedroom. We're constantly on the lookout for something small and white streaking past us or playing with our shoelaces as we walk around the house.

We're on the happier end now of the tedious ritual of kitty introductions and integration with our older cats in residence -- with much growling and hissing under the closed doors as our female cats Maggie and SweetPea adjusted to the idea of another little life around the house. Gus, a veteran of new kitten companions, mostly ignored the psychodrama.

We've spent a lot of time watching him and trying to imagine a name, deciding to hang onto the Prince part of his shelter name and then add an at-home name with a myriad of variations. That name is Hamish -- Hammie or Ham for short. We're waiting to see if it suits him  -- and if, eventually, he will answer to it.

When we took the big step of letting him out to roam freely around the house (closely watched) three days ago, our sweet 14-year-old Gus was there immediately to groom him, hang out with him and play with him. Hammie has since won everyone over with his sweetness, his ready purr, his curiosity, his affection and his boundless energy.

                        Gus, 14, grooming two-month-old Hamish, his new buddy

                                                    Hamish and Gus just hanging out

                                             Gus and Hammie playing

                                       Hammie and Gus pause for a quick nap

                                        More napping with Hammie and Sweet Pea  

                                               Hammie and his new social circle

Yesterday, when Bob was sitting on the couch, struggling with another epilepsy-related bout of severe depression, Hammie jumped into his lap and, uncharacteristically, settled in for a good amount of time. Bob's spirits lifted almost instantly.

                                                   Hamish keeping an eye on Bob 

                                    Hammie lifting Bob's depression with a warm cuddle   

And as I work on the computer, struggling with the proposal for my book about my therapy cats Timmy and Marina, I feel a gentle tap on my ankle. I look down. There is Hammie, looking up at me, trilling softly. I pick him up  and cuddle him as he purrs. An outgoing, loving little kitten -- not unlike Timmy, a creme Burmese/red tabby mix, who was my therapy cat when I added animal-assisted therapy to my practice. Timmy, who was Gus' more extroverted littermate, died of melamine poisoning from tainted cat food in 2007.

                           Timmy (1998-2007) who loved flowers and people         

Hammie purrs and rubs against my cheek, reminding me, in his own way, to be present in the moment.

This soft bundle of fur in my arms is not Marina nor Timmy, even though my memories of them are close and warm as I watch him. He is very much himself -- the quintessential Hammie. And he is a delight.

One of the greatest joys of raising a kitten is watching the unique personality of a young cat evolve, day by day. Kittenhood is one of the most brief, precious, fleeting experiences we share with our companion animals. But even as we enjoy romping, playing and laughing over their antics, we anticipate years of the pleasure of their feline company.

After losing Marina and Timmy at relatively young ages, I no longer assume that a new kitten will invariably be a companion for many years. I feel gratitude for whatever time I will have with a baby Hammie and the cat he will become.

We've been fortunate with our cats. And Hamish is our newest treasure.

Each cat we've had, for however long, has been a joy. Through the years, our kittens have became wonderful cats... warming our memories, blessing our days.

                                                      Prince Hamish at rest


  1. The moment I clicked onto your page, I fell in love with that little face. Oh my goodness. Prince Hamish is beautiful...!

    I have had several Siamese cats, but never a flame point. Siamese have such wonderful personalities, don't they? I have a feeling Prince Hamish is going to let you live with him for a very long time. Oh, you're so lucky! Hmmmm I might visit the animal shelter facility tomorrow. :-)

  2. What a joy he is! I loved seeing the pictues of him at play, at rest, and of him spreading his love. Cats are so intuitive, and it sounds like he is already uncommonly so. I'm glad he's won over the other cats. Great times are ahead!

  3. Hamish is a beautiful kitten and sure has found the best home he could possibly have. Enjoy. JB

  4. Dear Kathy, you would know, of course, how touched I am by this posting. My life, too, has been blessed with the presence of cats. Dulcy, Ishmael, Bartleby, Tybalt, Pam, Eliza Doolittle, Noah, Jeremiah, Laz, Raissa, Ellie, Matthew, Maggie. Blessings all. I'm so glad you gave us the names of the cats with whom you live and so happy also to see the picture of the four of them basking together in comfort. Enjoy your life with Hammie! Peace

  5. I was never a cat person until Brian's Newkie came to live with us. Now, I can't fathom not having her.
    Your Hammish is a charmer, for sure.
    (I'm looking forward to your new book!)

  6. Hammie is adorable and I am so glad you made room for him in your home. Wonderful for Bob also. It is very difficult to be down around a loving kitten. They find the doors to our hearts in such a hurry.
    Gotta love Gus, what a fellow.

  7. Nothing can compare with a warm kitten in your lap :)

    We have two older cats and recently fostered a kitten for seven months while our daughter finished her lease in a no-pets apartment. It was a lot of work, but what a joy! Just before he went to live with her, a stray came into our lives, so we are still at three cats. There is always a need for good homes. Hammie has got himself one :)

    I hope your husband is feeling better. Does the depression tend to linger long? Take care.

  8. Melt your heart gorgeous. I love LOVE cats/kittens. I have heard that animals sense when people medical issues, that is so sweet a picture of your hubby & he.

    Come join our cause for Zoe, I deeply appreciate this.

    TTFN ~

  9. Hammie is just precious. I'm not much of a cat person, but when I see Hammie, I am almost tempted to consider getting a cute little kitten. You will really enjoy having this new addition to your household. I'm so happy to hear that Hammie seemed to sense Bob's need for special care and comfort by giving him some tender love and concern. I hope Bob spirits will continue to lift.

  10. Congrats, Kathy.... Welcome Mr. Hammie to the family... Looks like you have a fabulous kitty in the house now... Glad the other kitties are so willing to accept Hamish in the family. I know you love them all --you and hubby.


  11. What a little beauty! I'm so pleased for you and him. It's obviously a match made in heaven. :-)

  12. What a dear! My heart is full of joy for you. It is the post I needed to read as I mourn Gypsy, yet know my days of being without a cat are finite. I especially loved the photos of Hammie and Gus, who looks much like Gypsy. It could well be that while Hammie isn't Marina OR Timmy, he may be a therapy cat in some distant future -- he certainly seems to be working his charms on Bob! I'm so very, very happy for all of you!

  13. "No cat can ever replace another." I love this line, this only shows how much you value each pet cat you have. If cats can be compared as your investments for sure you have can attain the best portfolio optimization results.

  14. Aren't they wonderful? Hammie is a darling boy.