Saturday, July 17, 2010

Little Dauphin and the power of Genetics


I have talked to parents who have more than one child and inevitably, they admit that there usually is one who is the real favourite, however much the best parents strive mightily to conceal it or repress it. Certainly, where my Cats are concerned, i have loved all of them, but in any litter, one or two will touch the heart to elicit a deeper or more poignant response.

In both of her litters, Beauty had one Marmalade Kitten. In the first, it was Pumpkin, aka Dandelion. In the second, it was the little Dauphin Soleil, so called because his older sibling would have seniority. Pumpkin's colour changed completely as the months passed. His fur now is tawny rather than orange, with only the faintest trace of any markings. Little Dauphin at three months still is fiercely orange.

It is not for their colour, however, that I felt a particular love for these kittens, but for their personalities. Mind you, although the other kittens quickened different emotional responses in me, those responses were no less profound.

The two Marmalade Kittens are very different in personality. Pumpkin was a watchful kitten, even when he was a month old. He would look up at me, head slightly tilted and watch me thoughtfully, even when his siblings would greet me boisterously, clamouring for attention and food. Pumpkin never ignored me, but he would remain wherever he had been when I entered the room and yet, head tilted a little, look up at me searchingly, fixing his entire attention upon me. As soon as I touched him, he would begin to purr...

When I lived in Manhattan, a close friend of many years adopted a couple of my Cats and he called one of them his Shaman for exhibiting similar characteristics. For whatever reason, Pumpkin no longer fixes his gaze upon me as completely, possibly because of the atmosphere of utter chaos that reigns with the five Tiny Babies underfoot. He still is the only Cat who does not clamour for food or attention, preferring to watch from a distance, to trust me to deliver whatever he needs and he still will purr as soon as he feels my hand upon him.

The Tiny Baby who resembles him most physically shares the same sweet trusting disposition. He is far more athletic than his older brother, but he shares the trait of purring as soon as I touch him. He is utterly perfect physically and emotionally and utterly lovable. Of all the Tiny Babies, apart from his little sister, Iseult of the White Paw, he is the one who will be most difficult to surrender to the care of another.

Iseult of the White Paw and her sister are the two Tiny Babies who differ physically from all the Puttikins. They have the most extraordinary markings. I originally thought they would be Blue-Cream Persians, which would be a throwback to one of their grandparents. Instead, they have red as well as white in their fur and are more like Calico Cats. It is little Iseult, the 'runt' of the litter, who pulls at my heartstrings. Her sister, very similar in appearance, may hold slightly more promise of extraordinary beauty, but is far more certain of herself and far more aggressive. Tiny Iseult looks up at me as though begging me to care for her.

The most incredible thrill in the world is that of watching the wonders of Nature unfold. Although I would not have wished for another litter of kittens, still, experiencing the birth of new life is one of the great joys in existence, and especially when every new life is a kitten. Physically exquisite, emotionally responsive, filled with curiosity and love: how could a person NOT respond to these tiny creatures?

When I think of the people who could drown a litter of newborn kittens, throwing them into a sack and letting their lives be snuffed out without a moment's hesitation, it makes my blood run cold. I have studied humankind and I have studied felines and between the two, Cats are more deserving of life and our protection, in all honesty. The sort of perverted, hothouse sadism and selfishness that is exhibited again and again by humans is seldom found among Cats. Even when neglected or treated badly by a former owner, a Cat usually will come to respond to kindness and love in time...

When a Cat is feral, moreover, that is no more than the cat's natural instincts for self-preservation and not a desire to interfere in the lives of humans in any way.

But enough of these gloomy musings! The photographs here show little Dauphin Soleil playing with Osiris' favourite toy.

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