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Uno Stories

April 8, 2013

I offer these stories in hopes that my lovely readers will once again consider donating to Monica’s Crazy Cats fund via Paypal.  Now that my move is over, I am going to trap the remaining feral cats at my former home in El Monte.  Please help by sending money via Paypal to monica.mostly@gmail.com or by contacting me in person.  Thank you so much to those who already donated.  Your contributions (just over $1000 total) helped fix and vaccinate ten cats, two of whom have found good permanent homes.  Every $50 after this helps another cat.  Thank you!  Now, read about the first cat, Uno:

Uno in the bathtub.  Photo by Colin McIllece.

Uno in the bathtub. Photo by Colin McIllece.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And on the fifth day God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And a long, long time after that God made Uno, a kitten, according to the way of cats.  And God saw that it was trouble.

Now, I’m not a Christian, but if there is a God in Heaven, whatever He or She is like, when Uno was made I’m sure that God said something along the lines of “Uh-oh.”  Or perhaps “Oops.”  Or maybe even “My bad.”  For Uno, like the most beautiful of all God’s angels, is a devil.  A gorgeous blue-eyed, white-furred devil with a little dark face and chocolate-colored paws.  And like any devil, he makes my life heaven and hell in equal measure.

On the first day he came home from the clinic, the ninth of January, he and his sister made the

Uno and Dos, the morning after a raucous, all-night cage match.  They'd pulled down the cardboard and towel from the upper shelf and totally covered their litter box.  Photo by Monica.

Uno and Dos, the morning after a raucous, all-night cage match. They’d pulled down the cardboard and towel from the upper shelf and totally covered their litter box. Photo by Monica.

biggest mess I’d ever seen from such small creatures – all while trapped securely in a three foot by two foot cage and still under the effects of the anesthesia.  I should have known then.  I quickly took to wearing earplugs at night, as the rambunctious kittens recovered from their surgeries and  engaged in all-night cage matches, rattling their bars until the wee hours.  I’d wake to find all their cage in disarray.  Once, they disordered it such that there wasn’t enough room left for the two tiny kittens, so they hunched one literally on top of the other.

Despite their wildness, I could reach in and pick them up without undue fuss – with hissing, yowling, growling, and clinging to the bars of the cage, but without clawing or biting.  I held them for at least an hour each day, talking softly and petting them, while they buried their little heads in my lap.  Within a week we were exploring the room on a harness and leash.

Two weeks later, Uno and his sister went to stay with a coworker while I traveled.  They had free range in a bedroom, then a house, and got to meet their first domestic cats (I had separated my cat from them).  A friend of my coworker quickly adopted Dos.  Uno lost his little sister, but seemed none the worse for it.  My coworker loved Uno. Even when he came to work with three bandages on his hand, he lamented that they already had enough cats and couldn’t keep the little guy.  He was under the little devil’s spell.

Uno came home a on the sixth of February still skittish and wary, prone to hiding under the bed at the slightest provocation.  But gradually he explored everything, including this human and his new big sister, my ten-year-old cat, Isis.  Unfortunately, Isis wasn’t nearly so interested in him, and sent him running under the bed whenever he dared approach, her snarls echoing through the room.  But Uno wasn’t stupid and soon learned her flying paws had no claws in them.  Within a week, he would wait patiently while she pummeled him, and then lift his head up as if to say “Are you done?”  He was already nearly as tall as her diminutive seven-pound frame, despite being barely three months old.  He has yet to grow into his big paws.

Uno attacking and eating a squash peel.  Photo by Colin McIllece.

Uno attacking and eating a squash peel. Photo by Colin McIllece.

My conversations began to start with a heavy sigh and “Let me tell you what that kitten’s done now…”  The time he devastated the toilet paper roll and flung little white bits all over my room.  The time he cut his paw (on what, I still don’t know) and left bloody little footprints across my bed.  The time he went caroming through the house and used my bare foot as a springboard, leaving two long gashes on his way.  The time he got an eye infection and had to go to the vet the day after we moved into our new apartment.  The time he chewed on the propeller blades of my boyfriend’s remote control helicopter.  More messes and scratches than I can count.  My time at home was punctuated with exclamations of “No, you can’t climb in the dishwasher,” and “Hey, that’s my earring,” and “Power cables are not string.”

So it would be natural at this point to wonder, why bother?  Why put up with it?  Because in a strange way, he kept me sane.  I was freaked out by my impending acceptance (or rejection) into a PhD program, apartment hunting and moving in with my boyfriend, worrying about my job future, managing five projects at work, reorganizing a student government, and completing five graduate-level classes in order to graduate on time.  And whenever my mind was trapped in a frenzy of planning and scheming and worrying, there was that kitten to jolt me out of it all and demand I deal with his latest crisis right now.  Far from being more stressful, it was exactly the diversion I needed.  It helped me let go of all those other worries I couldn’t deal with anyway and focus on the present moment, the problem in front of me, the one I could solve (or clean or bandage).  And that lesson continues to help me when I start to worry and freak out again; I tell myself to pay attention to what’s in front of me – which now only sometimes turns out to be a crazy kitten.

Uno asleep.  Photo by Colin McIllece.

Uno asleep. Photo by Colin McIllece.

If you’d like me to save more kittens like Uno (his mother was pregnant again last time I saw her), please donate by sending money via Paypal to monica.mostly@gmail.com or by getting in touch with me.  Thank you!  Let me know if you’d like more feral cat stories, or if you, my dear readers, are over this phase of mine.  :-) 

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