On the kittens’ first or second night here, I was a little wound up. I tried to identify the feeling – that sense of stress and weight was vaguely familiar. I didn’t like to admit it, but it was a milder version of the way you feel when you bring the new baby home, plus a little sense of put-upon-ness that now I was responsible for two more lives, in a way that I hadn’t really mentally prepared for because when assembling the feeding dishes and cat litter and various objects that we’d need, I had forgotten to account for that.
We‘ll do everything, the kids said. We’ll empty the litter tray. We’ll feed them. No, I said; you say that now, but I’ll be the one in the house with them all day. I’ll end up doing it. As I raked the litter tray for about the seventh time on that first day I thought of it again, a tad resentfully. Then I went and ordered a bigger tray from Amazon, because I already felt confident in knowing more about the sort of thing we needed. Higher sides because they like to power-drill down in the litter. More space because they’re not teeny weeny kittens, they’re more like demi-cats.
The first two nights, we put them back in the carrier and closed them into the larger cage (with food and water and the small litter tray) to sleep. I thought they’d want to get out, that they’d wake up multiple times, like babies, and yowl. They didn’t. They were cosily snuggled up together when we came down in the morning.
On the third night they were hard to catch to put away, so we left them out. They were fine. Nothing went bump in the night. I woke up a few times, alert, waiting. But nothing happened. They’re not babies after all.
I put them back in their carrier and took them to the vet yesterday, for their introductory checkup. I put the carrier on the front seat turned sidways so they could see me, and strapped it in with the seatbelt. I felt a little silly, but I didn’t want them to freak out, and I felt sorry for them because every other time they’ve gone somewhere in a cat carrier they’ve arrived at a new home. They had no way of knowing that this time they’d be coming back here in an hour or two, that I wasn’t just passing them on.
Sometimes I ascribe human emotions to animals. I probably shouldn’t do that so much.
As I pulled out of the driveway, trying to minimize bumps and take corners gently, I was irresistibly reminded of coming home from the hospital with newborn baby Dash, in deepest Texas, when B said he drove more carefully than he ever had before.
Here I am, adulting, I thought. Now we have a vet, as well as a pediatrician and a dentist and an orthodontist and an ophthalmologist and a dermatologist and a pediatric dermatologist and a psychologist and a chiropractor. (And we’re very healthy people.)
Now the kittens start to purr when I walk into the room. It’s like the baby smiling at you and making it all worthwhile. I felt an undeniable mini-glow of pride in the vet’s waiting room, when other pet-owners admired them and said how good they were and I agreed. I rooted for them to do well in their physical exam, and flinched when they got their shots, and snuggled them and talked to them as we drove home, back to the home that is theirs now, with the people who are theirs now.
They’re finding the places they like to hang out. They don’t hide under the sofa much any more. You’ll find them on the stairs, one on the top step and one halfway down looking through the bannister. On the IKEA chair in the sun. On the soft brown blanket on our bed. In the corner of the front-room sofa. Not, ever, in the cat bed or the box I prepared for them, of course. I knew that would happen. We’ve had them less than a week, but it feels right to have them here.
I have furbabies now. At least I don’t have to take them with me to the supermarket, though.