Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Little Rebel


The little white male now has established his independence to the point where his Mother actually has to hold him captive in order to groom him. She is the perfecct Mother, making herself available for nursing, then grooming each and every one of them, making certain that their little systems eliminate everything old as they are nourished with fresh milk.

I must find a name for this white kitten, as he has matured faster than his siblings. Last night, he made Beauty very unhappy when he wandered off by himself rather than joining his siblings at the 'nursing station'. She placed him beneath one paw initially to groom his nether regions. He fought, extricated himself and began to climb over her body. She actually grabbed him rather roughly and dragged him back!

He was the only kitten who did not make a sound when I picked him up for my morning inspection. I do this each morning now that their eyes have opened to make certain that their eyes are clear and that everything else is in good condition. I could save myself the trouble, as Beauty is relentless in her care, but I want to familiarise the kittens with me at this point as well.

In any case, the kittens usually begin to cry instantly when I pick them up, all but the largest white Male, who sniffed my hand, explored my cardigan and then curled up contentedly for a little nap! How on earth I shall find the backbone to give him up ultimately I do not know. That is the danger when one has kittens. They find their way into your heart and it is difficult to allow them to go to a new home. One cannot keep them all, however. I have done that in the past and it is not good to enlarge the feline family to that extent, even though they were extremely happy together and I cared for them all. I have told myself that I can keep ONE kitten from this litter. That is the limit.

I rather think that the White Male deserves the name of Attila, a name that I gave to his father but which does not suit him in the least. Ashleigh Attila is quite cowardly. I have found that the largest males often are, for some reason. I once had a cat thrust upon me. I was 'cat-crazy' in those days, as I never was allowed to own a cat during my childhood. With my own place and feeling very far from home, some friends suggested that I adopt a Cat. It hadn't occurred to me that I could, actually. I had travelled so much and so often that I never thought of myself as having a home of my own, let alone a home for any potential pet.

I never do anything by halves, unfortunately. I adopted two young brothers and then volunteered to work at a local Animal Shelter. Each week, I would fall in love with a Cat or Kitten, especially those who did not appear to be favoured by any visitors and bring him/her home.

I then added total insanity to the mix by searching advertisements in the local newspaper. I found a listing for a young Persian Male, described enticingly as a 'Shaded Silver' Persian. I rang the owner and she spoke enthusiastically of the great beauty of her kitten. I wrote down the address and took public transport. The journey took over an hour. When I found the building, it proved to be a dilapidated pre-war block of flats.

I rang the bell and was confronted by an old woman who undoubtedly would have been burned at the stake as a witch in the 17th century in ANY country. She was rather vague towards me, as though suffering from senility... but she finally remembered my appointment and ushered me into her flat.

I looked in vain for a Shaded Silver Persian. There was one very large roly-poly black and white domestic shorthair sitting in the window.

'Where is the Shaded Silver Persian?' I asked.

'That's the one!' she responded, gesturing towards the roly poly pudding.

'That's not a Persian, surely!' I cried, rather unwisely. 'And he definitely isn't Shaded Silver.'

It was at this point that the encounter degenerated into the stuff of nightmares. The old woman hobbled over to a dim corner and returned with a long shotgun in her hands!

'You said you wanted him. You're taking him!' she cried, with grim determination.

What could I do but take the kitten??? He rode the coach with me, nestled beneath my coat, blessedly silent throughout the hour-long journey. I had intended to take him to the shelter where I volunteered. I certainly did not need ANOTHER domestic shorthair and I was put off by the woman's misrepresentation.

When I finally descended from the coach, however, I had bonded with the poor creature. After all, he had trusted me sufficiently to remain silent and quiescent next to my heart throughout the long journey.

I named him Pasha. Unfortunately, Pasha, despite his huge size, was the greatest coward who ever walked this earth on four paws. Perhaps he had been as intimidated and coerced by his former owner as I had been! Whatever the reason, he would climb the walls literally if any one came to visit me.

To add injury to insult, he quickly impregnated both of my purebred Himalayan females. The old woman had misrepresented his age along with everything else. He was a fully developed CAT, not a kitten of three months. In those days, my expertise with respect to animals was nil. I knew enough to be able to judge that Pasha was neither a Persian nor a Shaded Silver, but it did not occur to me to doubt his owner's declaration of his age.

Sometimes, Ash reminds me a little of Pasha, even though Ashleigh Attila is a verified purebred and never has encountered the sort of insanity that poor Pasha probably experienced with his first owner.

It was the smallest male I owned, my beloved Friendship, a real Shaded Silver Himalayan, who had the heart of a lion. Immensely fertile and the 'alpha male' of my household, despite his almost fragile appearance, Friendship enjoyed the allegiance of males and females alike. His half-brother Pi, twice his size, never disputed Friendship's authority.

The point of all this, I suppose, is that I err whenever I give a large male a name that connotes power. Pasha, I suppose, was a Pasha to some extent, in assuming that all my females constituted his own personal harem, but he never had ANY courage befitting a male with a ruler's title. Ash should not have been given the name of Attila. Attila, after all, was one of the great military leaders of the ancient world, filled with courage and the need to dominate, for better or worse.

The only doubt I have now with respect to the white kitten is that, should I give him the name of Attila, he immediately would lose his adventurous disposition and take after his father after all.

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