April 9, 2005

Obligatory Kitty Post

Hilarious and/or Adorable Milestones in the Life of My Kitten

20 Days Old: She was found in a hollow tree near my home, with two hungry mewling siblings. Not knowing better, I brought her to my bed with me that night, which has remained her preferred chilling/vegging/nestling spot.

I was playing some Sims 2 at the time, and somewhere in the family tree of one of the pre-loaded characters is an ancestor named Calpurnia. I was also watching a movie with a lead character of the same name, and I am a big history nerd, so I named the kitten Calpurnia. (Oh, and as I just realized while googling for links, Calpurnia was also the name of the children's caregiver in To Kill a Mockingbird, which, like Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, and likely Sarah Michelle Gellar before me, I have personally read.)

2 Months Old: For no particular reason, I kept my hair up and pinned neatly all the time for the first several weeks I had her. One night I hopped into bed, fresh from the shower, and pulled the towel off my head to comb my hair out. It swung down across my chest and lightly tickled the top of Calpurnia's head as she sat in my lap. She jumped around in a tiny circle, and at the sight of this strange phenomenon seemingly attacking her, she hissed and fell backwards out of utter fright. She was scared of my hair.

Day Before Yesterday (Six Months Old): I interrupted her during a routine headlong incursion into the most fascinating thing in the world, my purse.

Every time I come home, I immediately feed her, and plop on the couch with my purse and start making phone calls and going through whatever papers and purchases I brought home. Unless I immediately remove needed objects from my purse and zip it up tight, she's facefirst into it, rooting around for loose hair elastics, which are her favorite toy. (She nabs them the second I take them off, and must have huge stockpiles of them under various pieces of furniture. I actually had to buy some at the drug store the other day, which, as any woman with a history of long hair will tell you, is almost never necessary. Some of us have tins and jewelry boxes full of hair bands and clips and barrettes from sixth grade. You just don't run out.)

"Ohhhhh...." I babytalked her. "Did you steal my granola bar? Were you going to answer my phone?" Then I looked inside the purse for my phone, and - yes, there was warm, watery, mushy kitten food vomited all over everything. Damn lucky for her everything was easily rinseable, and it was a $10 Target bag instead of a Burberry.

It's moments like this that it seems reasonable that for the dollars I've spent on her and the actual hours of care and patience, I should be rewarded with a tidy, polite, well-mannered five-year old human by now.

(This Morning): Spring is finally here, and the sun is burning through the months of accumulated gloom and grey skies. For the first time since I added Calpurnia to my life, I woke up warm in the middle of the night and slipped off my white cotton socks. When I woke up again in the morning, Calpurnia was perched on a packing box at the foot of my bed, peering cautiously down at my bare toes sticking out from the bottom of my blanket. The puzzled look on her face immediately made me laugh, before I said a single word. I looked to my bedside bookstand, to my copy of Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior," and I realized that, to Calpurnia, my familiar foot covered with a white sock is one thing, and my heretofore never-seen bare pink foot was actually another object altogether. I kept laughing as she continued to regard my foot the way she does any new object - she sat back, cautiously, periodically swiping at my foot with her exploratory paw.

(Grandin tells a story in her book about cattle ranchers being confused by the cattle's fear of a man approaching them on foot. The cattle had spent entire days of their lives in the company of cowboys on horseback, so why did they freak out when men walked toward them on the ground? Because to the cows, a person on horseback was one living thing. A man who dismounted and approached the cattle looked like a different thing - strange and therefore potentially threatening.)

In summation: Calpurnia was scared of my hair the first time she saw it. Calpurnia puked inside my purse the other day. Calpurnia was scared of my bare feet the first time she saw them, this very morning. Calpurnia is cute and amusing.

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