It is always nice to welcome a new addition to your family. Today, I am officially announcing a new addition to our family.
This little bundle of joy came into our lives five weeks ago. My oldest daughter, who lives in New York City, saw this little guy and his sister huddled on a mat by a back door next to her apartment. She felt sympathetic for these two little vagrants. She took pity on these two surviving kittens from a larger litter. She bought a Havahart trap, caught both of them, kept one for herself and asked my wife and me to help the other kitten become domesticated before putting it up for adoption.
My wife promised me that as soon as our little guy became accustomed to being around people, we would bring him to the local animal shelter for adoption. I echoed her promise with the assertion that one cat in our lives was enough.
Well, that was five weeks ago, and since then, the little guy wormed his way into our hearts. (We had him de-wormed twice, but it didn't help.)
I was amazed at the little guy's reaction to our adult male cat. When the kitten saw our adult cat he immediately became energized. The little guy started rubbing himself against the big cat, licking his eyes and otherwise behaving in a way that would normally provoke a fight between two cat strangers. Surprisingly, after a few half-hearted hisses, the big cat let the little cat crawl all over him. At night I saw the big guy curled up in his normal perch on the back of the couch with the little guy pressed against his back with his paws embracing the older one.
After several weeks, the little guy is still shy of human hands. At night, when he is lying next to the older cat, he will let us pet him. But, at other times, he scampers away if we come too close. We think he is making progress. As you can see from this photo, the little guy will follow the older cat wherever he goes, even scrambling up my chair, across my lap and over my keyboard to join the bigger guy on my desk.
As you can well guess, the little guy has become part of our family. There no longer is any talk of taking him to a shelter. After trying several names I now call him Shadow because he follows our adult cat around just like a shadow, eating out of the same bowl, sleeping on or next to him and chasing him around the house until they tussle with one another. Here they are, the new Dynamic Duo -- Toaster and his Shadow.
We have always had animals in our home -- dogs, hamsters, gerbils, fish, bunnies and cats. I never cease to be amazed by animal behavior and the synergy between certain animal species and humans. This time I am engrossed by the adoptive behavior of an adult male cat toward a kitten. Whenever there is food, Shadow, the little one makes a beeline for it and eats voraciously, like a teenage person. Toaster, the older one, steps aside and waits until Shadow is finished before eating himself. Even when there are two plates of food, Shadow rushes for the one next to Toaster, and if Toaster goes to the now vacant plate, Shadow follows, nudging the older cat aside. If any other cat tried that, Toaster would give him a taste of his claws and fangs.
I am curious to see how this little family drama develops. We have had as many as four cats in the house at once and they all lived together separately. (Anyone who has ever had cats will understand that reference.) Perhaps this will be different. Time will tell.
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Henry Bassman has written about high-technology and medical technology (biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues) for more than 40 years. He retired from AT&T, served in the U.S. Army where he became a captain and worked for ABC News. He is now affiliated with a small investment bank. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites. Henry has lived in Summit, NJ for 37 years and has been married for more than 40 years. He has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School.
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