The Precious

This past summer, we added two new kittens to our herd of cats. I called them Salt and Pepper, as they both had brown tabby fur, Salt having a large amount of white on his chest and paws. I got them from the local pound in June, during ‘rescue a cat month.’ When I went in and picked them out, I thought they were siblings, and it wasn’t until I was signing the paperwork that we discovered that they were in fact brought in by two different people. The male, Salt, was 7 weeks old, and Pepper, my baby girl, was 6.

Of course, we are pretty heavy duty cat lovers at our house. Ebony (black longhair) and Ally (blue Russian) are almost 6 year old liter mates who came out of the bushes from under an old junk car at my mother’s house the weekend before memorial day 5 years ago. I had never seen kittens take to people after having made it to 6 or 8 weeks old without any previous contact, but that whole group of 5 females just pranced out and announced themselves, as if saying, “Here we are: pet us.” So, we did.

We always had cats when I was a kid, but living out in the ‘country’ as such (mom has lived in her house over 40 years), they were not long term guests. In fact, they came and went so fast, we had standard names for them. Solid black, that would be Midnight. Calico would be Calico. Black and white would be called Hitler. There would be new liters a few times a year, and since it was a fairly rural area and coyotes were not uncommon, keeping the names and contact simple was a defense mechanism of sorts, knowing there was no sense worrying or crying over them – it was all part of the cycle of life, and they would always come to a bad end eventually, either from other animals, cars or people around us.

This was true for the other 3 out of Ebony and Ally’s liter, and they were all three gone before summer was over. It is purely because Ebony was the one who sat in my lap when I went to choose one to take home that I ended up with her at all. In addition, just a few weeks after I got Ebony, Mom rescued Ally from her dog, so she took her in the house and made her a house cat as well. After a year though, Ally came to live with us, and I think she is pretty happy that is the way things turned out for her; I know we are.

In addition to Ally and Ebony, we have Bootsie, who my son rescued from a neighbor, having decided he needed one to call his own three years ago. Bootsie is a mess. And too damn smart. She turns lights on and off at the switch and would open doors with the knob if she could ever figure out how to twist it while jumping. She is also way too smart for her own good, and gets into all kinds of messes, and forget trying to hide things from her. She will come right up to you, purring extremely loudly, and push her head against you in great determination to get your attention. But if you reach up to pet her, she draws back and glares at you. She is such a tease.

Until the new kittens came, Bootie would harass the hell out of the other cats – well, Ally anyways. She always wanted to play, and would chase ally around often, but they got along pretty good. Ebony is the queen of the house, and no one messes with her, lest they get their ass kicked. So, we brought in baby Salt and baby Pepper, and by this point we are fully aware that cats are very much like people. No two are exactly alike. They have things they like, they don’t like, some are smart, some are lazy; you get the idea.

So Salt was a wild little pistol, and took to chasing everyone around the house at will almost as soon as he got here. I played with him one time for 2 hours. I got tired out before he did. He was a real bundle of energy. I say was; unfortunately he did not wake up from surgery in October and it was heartbreaking to bury him in under the rose bush in front of the house. We all had a good cry at losing him, and the bad news did not stop there. Baby pepper, who is still with us, had never looked quite right to me ever since I brought them home, so I had the vet give her a look over, and found out some things I had never heard of or thought of in a cat before.

Now, when I say she doesn’t look right, I mean in her face – it just has a weird shape, especially across the eyes. And there is the fact that she had a very prima donna attitude, and would just sit and look up at you, her huge innocent eyes begging you to go pick her up for some ‘lovins,’ which we did often, mainly because she was so soft (almost like rabbit fur) and sweet. Totally lovable kitten. Almost as soon as I brought them home, Pepper became known as my Precious, and I have spoiled her terribly.

If we hadn’t had Salt, who by October was a couple of pounds heavier, and noticeably larger, we might not have even noticed right away that there was something really wrong with Pepper’s size. However, there was no way we could miss the ‘falling down’ all the time that eventually developed. Especially when she was trying to get around and would look almost drunk in her stagger. That’s the reason for the vet visit; I was becoming very concerned that her male counterpart had been  playing too roughly and injured her somehow.

Sadly, it was something more heartbreaking to me than that. Precious has congenital neuropathy. Do you know what that is? I do, and having been in the medical field so many years, I didn’t need the vet to explain it. It means she has a nerve disorder that she was born with, and will never get over. She will always be small, only weighing 4 pounds (people who would try to breed cats to be small on purpose make me want to cry), and she has weakness in her hind legs, so climbing and jumping around are not good for her, as she tends to lose her balance or miss a jump and fall easily. It also means that some day, she may or will lose her ability to walk. I am dreading the time that it comes and choices will have to be made.

For now, The Precious is my sweet buddy. She is the perfect cuddle kitten, and sits perfectly still in your lap for hours. She purrs, but not too loudly, and will play, but only just a little, as she does tire out easily. One of my good friends at work tries to comfort me about her, telling me that I rescued her and have given her a good life. She says that I should be happy about that; and I am. I am very grateful for the time she has been in our home and part of our family. We all love The Precious. This is her, laying on the bookcase next to me (I had to move her off my lap after a while, poor thing). Ah, such is the life of a cat.

Pepper Dec. 10, 2013

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