Saturday, October 24, 2015

Archive: 07/24/2015 - Bringing the "Devil Cat" home

Before we really can get into The Clinchfield Report, I need to introduce our protagonist and explain how this mischievous kitten came to live with us.

The cat of a friend's daughter had kittens.  My friend wanted a companion for her dog, so when the kittens were old enough, she brought one of the girl kittens home.  She was named Madelyne and was incredibly cute and lovey:

However, it quickly became apparent that the dog and kitten were not getting along and that the kitten was going to be a handful.  Her great capacity for loving was equal to her great capacity for getting into everything.  My friend was heartbroken, the dog was miserable, and the kitten was being called "Devil Cat."  I assured my friend that Madelyne would mellow out as she grew.

A few months in, my friend couldn't take it any more.  My husband, Steve, and I were still grieving the loss of our youngest cat, Frisco, who wasn't even two years old when he peacefully passed away in his sleep.  We had wanted to get another cat, but we hadn't decided when.  The tears in my friend's eyes when she told me how much turmoil was going on in her home made our decision for us, and on Friday, July 24, 2015, we went to see if we'd be compatible with Madelyne.

We walked in, and the kitten was in the middle of the living room floor looking at us.  My friend kept the dog busy, and I walked up to the kitten and let her sniff me.  Within 30 seconds, Steve and I were sitting on the couch with the kitten on my lap, and she was purring in short order and not making any efforts to jump down.  Ten minutes later, we said, "Okay - we're good!" and put her in her bright pink carrier, gathered up the pink scratching/ball toy, and were on our way.

On the way home, I sat in the back so I could bond with her, and she sat on my lap for part of the ride home.

Then we brought the carrier into the dining room so Pixel and Fe could get to know their new sister.  They sniffed for a few minutes then left her alone.  We opened the door and waited:

We brought her into the living room (it's pretty much attached to the dining room) and waited:

Eventually, she did get out and start exploring... her carrier:


Steve picked her up and gave her some loving:

And I got some time in, too:

She eventually became brave enough to explore more of the room:

A very popular cat spot

Really close to Fe's favorite spot

On the piano

While she was doing all that, Steve posted a few pictures on Facebook with this status:
New kitteh! Squee!
World, meet Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range RR Cat, or Missabe. (Missy or Miss Wasabi for short.) Just shy of 4 months old. Missabe, meet world.

If you haven't read the "About Clinchfield" section on the right side of this blog yet, you might be wondering why she was named for the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad.  Steve is an avid model railroader and an associate editor for Model Railroader magazine.  All of his cats are named after railroads.  First there was Pennsy (the Pennsylvania Railroad), then came Miss Katy (the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad), then Fe (the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway), then Frisco (the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway).  Before we met I didn't have any such guidelines for naming my cats, so I've had Perrin ("Precious" in Finnish and a reference to "Perin" from the Wheel of Time books), Simoon (she was "Simone" until my boyfriend's son couldn't pronounce it), and Pixel (because I was a computer programmer, and it's the name of the cat in Heinlein's The Cat Who Walked Through Walls).

Since we've been together, we've fallen into the habit of Steve listing possible railroad-related names, until I go, "Ooh!  I like that one!"

I really liked the name Missabe because we could nickname the kitten "Miss Wasabi" because she was spicy.

Here's what Steve posted about what happened when we were going to go to bed that first night:
Missabe update: Last night she was all sweet and fine with being around and on us, and being petted. Then we carried her around a bit too much trying to get her to eat or use the litter. She got anxious and hid under the kitchen table. We wanted to close her into the guest room for the night, so I foolishly tried to extract her, and got my hand shredded for my efforts. So we left her hiding in the living room for the night. This morning she had changed hiding places, but not by much. We don't know if she emerged during the night. She hissed when I approached but was soon purring. When Traci came out, I withdrew my hand, and Missabe soon emerged. She played with her ball toy, explored a bit, and is now finally eating! Yay! If only we didn't have to go out of town today.
And then a little later:
Me to Traci a minute ago: "What would you call that thing if you were talking to an adult?"
Traci: "What thing?"
Me: "The roundy-round."
Traci: "Ball toy... with... scratcher?"
Me: "OK."
Traci: "Wait, does this mean you don't think I'm an adult?"
I think I got that backward.  I think he meant he is not an adult.  Oops!

At this point, you may be wondering why this blog isn't called "The Missabe Report" and why all that stuff to the right refers to the kitten as "he."  Shortly before we left for a family wedding the day after we brought Missabe home, Steve made a startling discovery:

(shield the eyes of any children and sensitive folk, please!)

Is it just me, or ... is it possible our "Missy" is a boy cat?

Um... oops!  My friend had quite the laugh over that.  She was surprised it didn't come up (or, rather, they hadn't come out) when she'd had the kitten's shots done, and she had never flipped the kitten over.  I said, "Well, that probably explains why he was so rambunctious!  He was being forced into a gender role he wasn't comfortable with!"  (That was a joke, of course, but did you see how pink that carrier is?)

My initial reaction was to laugh, too.  See, Pixel's also a tabby, and his original name was Isis because I was told he was a girl.  His "eyeliner" made him look Egyptian:

You can see all the scratches on my hands that Pixel wasn't a very gentle kitten, either.

My cousin had come over the day I brought "Isis" home and was looking the kitten over.  "I don't think this is a girl," she said.  We poked and prodded and looked up whatever we could on a 2005 Internet.  We were about 90% certain "she" was a "he," and I started looking up new names.  I liked "Pixel" because of the computer and Heinlein connections.  The next day we went to the vet, and he kinda scoffed at me.  "How could you not tell the kitten's gender?"  Well, it took him a few minutes of poking and prodding before he declared Pixel was, indeed, a boy.

Since I have had two tabbies and both were boys when they were supposed to be girls, my hypothesis at this point is that tabbies like to hide their testicles to confuse their humans.  I should have known better in both instances.  The ears and paws on both cats were pretty large, which indicated to me that they were boys, but I took the word of previous caretakers.  Next time I'm going to do some poking and prodding of my own before I decide on a name.

So, now, the name Missabe is on the back burner for when we get a girl cat.  But what to name our new boy kitten?  Well, you know the answer to that, but I'll let Steve explain:
New boy cat name: Clinchfield. "Clinch" for short. As in, the clinch he put my hand in when I tried to pull him out from under the table last night.
(Not really - he ran through a list of potential boy railroad names, and I said, "Ooh!  I like 'Clinch'!")

Shortly after, I made a startling realization:
Me: "T.S. Eliot was right."
Steve: "What do you mean?"
Me: "The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you," pointing at the kitten, "THAT cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."
(Madelyne, Missabe, and Clinchfield)
Spooky, isn't it?

Sorry this was so long, but back stories tend to take a while to tell.  Most of the reports will be much, much shorter.

Come back tomorrow for our initial vet visit.  (Here's a hint on how the day went: I ended up calling my in-laws for advice.)

Here's one final picture of Clinchfield starting to feel at home:

He was sitting behind me in my office chair,
looking incredibly confused at what was being waved in his face

No comments:

Post a Comment