Nearly three months ago my husband and I went to our credit union to conduct some business. As he waited in the car, I went inside. Standing at the teller’s window I couldn’t help but notice the stifled but evident excitement around me. No. Sorry to say it wasn’t because of something great I was wearing or my new hairstyle. It was because another one of the employees was bringing in a bin of tiny kittens to bid one last goodbye before she took them to a “no-kill shelter.” Uh-Oh. I knew I was in trouble. I knew that I would end up taking one of these babies home. Having had two wonderful cats for over 14 years and lost them, I wasn’t inclined to try and replace them and their space in my heart. But this was certainly different. These were the tiniest kittens I had ever seen.
Apparently the mother cat had delivered her litter of kittens somewhere in the bushes next to the credit union. The employees kept watch over them and when the mother went away for more than a day, they even attempted to feed them. But one little black and white rascal wasn’t eating. I knew that if someone didn’t take her, who would be willing to hand-feed her every couple of hours, she wouldn’t make it
—even at a no-kill shelter. So, I plotted with the employee to go out to the car with me so that I could show my husband the kittens.
As I approached my husband, and he was able to recognize what was coming out, you could see him bracing for the inevitable request. Before I could even make it to his open window he delivered a firm “No.”
“That’s OK, I said, I just wanted to show them to you”, as I handed him one of the other kittens. “Isn’t she cute?” (He may be a Rambo, but he’s as soft as a teddy bear on the inside when it comes to animals and kids.) “Yes, she’s cute, he replied, but we’re not taking her home.”
“I know. I just wanted to show them to you. Look at this tinier one here, though. She’s not been eating apparently and is literally on her way to the shelter.”
“They’re taking them to the shelter right now?” Aha….a weakness I could expose.
“Yes, Honey, and I don’t think this one will make it if she’s not fed every couple of hours.”
Yes, we ended up with a black and white kitten that we hand-fed for the first several days. But today, nearly three months later, you would never know she was the runt of the litter. In fact, I think she may have been their secret weapon of defense.
This little one seems to have absolutely no fear. As soon as she came home and was greeted by the two small dogs we have, she basically just said, “Hi. How do you do? And which one of you is going to feed me?” So, my little Roxi, the toy poodle, instinctively laid down ready to nurse. No. Roxi has never had a litter of her own. She’s actually our stereotypical spacey blonde, so seeing this reaction from her was a shock to both my husband and me--so much so, that we initially tried to intervene and prohibit the interaction, but, since we couldn’t watch them all the time, the kitten had her way. The kitten was determined to nurse on Roxi and Roxi was determined to let her. Next thing I know, a mere 3 days later, Roxi is lactating and nursing the kitten at will. (Yes, we named the kitty Starry; on account of her piercing blue eyes twinkling against a black backdrop.) In no time she seemed to have conquered the stone-cold heart of my husband and my toy poodle. So, what’s next? She certainly was full of surprises.
Unfortunately Starry is still a very, very playful kitten. She hasn't quite grasped the fact that her "play things" are sharp and leave quite the mark. I’m just now starting to heal from her ambitious play sessions that she's had with my hands, knees and toes. I endure it because, well, she's just dang cute. I don’t mind teaching her little by little how to play nice with others, but I do LOATHE it when she gets into my plants, pretending to be Rambo out in the jungle. We holler, scold, jump at her, carry her out of the area and all kinds of methods, but she’s just not relenting. (I later learned that cats don't respond well to hollering.) Nothing helped keep her out of my plants so, finally, the squirt bottle came out.
Yesterday I was in my office trying to write. I left the door open to the rest of the house, and sure enough, Starry barrels in as if she’s being chased by Aborigines and hides in the large potted plant, aka her jungle hide-out. I yell. I act like I’m going to get up after her. It doesn’t faze her. In frustration I get the squirt bottle. After removing her from the room I attempt to get back to work. Sure enough, here she comes. So I grab the squirt bottle. Ready. Aim. Fire! Pssst. Pssst. Pssst! Does she run away? No. She stops to assess my aim and to assess what it is that’s being squirted at her. After about 3 direct hits she decides that she’ll walk out calmly, but with defiance. After she cleans herself, she decides she’s ready for another adventure. I don’t know if the whole time she was cleaning she was plotting, but she certainly came up with a good plan. I could hear the music from the old Spaghetti Westerns in the back of my mind as we faced-off with each other. She makes her move. I lift the squirt bottle. She hunkers down, ready to make a run for it. I focus my aim. Into the room she runs like a midget stealth tiger. I squirt fast and furious and get her dead center in the face repeatedly. But what does she do? Retreat? No. She barrels in directly towards the stream of water—her head lowered like she’s running into a windy storm—and then she suddenly cuts to the right out of my line of sight, still putting herself in the room with the other plants and away from the water stream.
My Kitten Understands the "Art of War"?
I have to tell you. I was shocked at this maneuver. The self-defense instructor in me was also somewhat impressed though. Sun-Tzu says that when you appear to be cornered with no way out, the best defense is to work your way further in. Well, I guess my little kitten, Starry had been doing a little light reading of "The Art of War" because she instinctively knew this strategy. When I realized that I had been bested by her, I belly laughed. Here I am using my very best skills against this miglet and she gets the best of me. So thinking for a moment, I decided to put a drop of lavender essential oil in the water bottle. My rationale was that since she stays away from me at night after I’ve put on my various essential oils, this healthy but somehow repulsive scent just might work.*
Without wanting to embarrass the girl, I will just say that my plot was successful. The squirt water now means something to her. And to think that the solution only required an ounce of ingenuity, 16 ounces of water, and a drop of lavender oil. At least this way she wouldn’t get hurt but with her senses being so strong as a cat, she would definitely stop and take notice.
I couldn’t help but think of the significance of this experience as it relates to the preparedness influence in my life. I learned that I needed to be sure that with all of my plans for comfort and endurance in the midst of a challenge, it’s important that I not put all of my eggs in one basket. Many people have one type of fuel or one type of food, or one plan for financial exchange in mind to counter tougher times. Granted, it’s great that some have any plan at all, but in the interest of true preparedness, I think it’s important that we have a “multi-purpose” plan of preparedness which addresses each of the Ten Principles of Preparedness. For example, instead of just storing several 55 gallon barrels of water; think of the need for some water to be portable, thus requiring smaller storage containers in addition to the large. Instead of just relying on firewood and propane, perhaps making ourselves familiar with solar power and butane stoves would be a wise step toward preparation as well. A well-built tent isn’t impervious to the wrath of Mother Nature, so having a Plan B with duct tape, sewing supplies, spare parts, and tarp covering is also wise. I find myself constantly thinking “What if this doesn’t meet my needs?” I realize that I can’t possibly conceive of every little thing in my life that might go awry. So when I come up with A plan to remedy a situation, I usually try to come up with a backup-plan and then a back-up to my back up.
I’ve heard firearm experts constantly say that their smaller firearms are only there to help them get to their bigger ones in a time of all-out self-defense. I think that all of our preparedness efforts should be looked at in very much the same way. Always have a back-up, because as sure as there’s tenacity in my kitten, there’s something else that we didn’t expect which will come our way. Our multiple back-up plans will certainly come in handy when we are wise enough not to put all of our eggs into one basket.
* (Note, you should never apply essential oils directly on a cat as their liver cannot process them efficiently like those of dogs and humans. If you are using essential oils for health purposes on your feline, do so in a highly diluted form and no more than once every three days. Caution should also be exercised even when diffusing essential oils in the same room as your feline friend.)
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