Just before we all went home for what seems like might possibly be the rest of our lives, one of my colleagues at work rescued a young cat, all black, who had taken up residency under The Ombra, or porch, of the Mark Twain House, where we both work. As she and another cat-savvy staffer suspected, the cat — now named Bambi — was pregnant, and about six weeks ago she gave birth to four kittens. The staff has received daily updates, photos, and videos of the MTHouse kittens, which have brightened all of our lives during these nervous times.
I have always thought of myself as a dog person: in my life I have had (either as a family pet when I was a kid or my own as an adult) Molecule, Jinx, Chance, Ripley, Trimper, and Kitty. I adore dogs. But when I look at that list and assess behaviors and outcomes, I have to admit that I’m not particularly GOOD at dogs.
If I’m honest with myself, I’ve probably been more of a natural cat person all along, but life circumstances haven’t allowed a cat to comfortably enter my life.
I am thrilled to announce that I passed the screening process — and, yes, there was an interview, as well there should be — and in a few weeks I’ll be bringing home my very first cat, a beautiful green-eyed kitten, one with a scrappy lineage that makes me love him or her — we can’t quite tell yet! — all the more.
I spent an hour last evening on Amazon, ordering food and litter and toys and all the other items one needs to order if one plans to bring a kitten into his or her life.
I have read countless articles about how to introduce the kitten to my 14-year-old border terrier, Kitty, in such a way as to ensure that ours will be a peaceable kingdom.
All of this feels like the most optimistic endeavor I am capable of mounting right now. At age 59, I’m going to have my first feline companion. The mere thought of it brings joy to my heart.
One of these four (yes, there are four; look closely at the middle of this mass of kittens to see the fourth one’s face) beautiful cats will soon become part of my life. In tribute to one of my all-time favorite artists, a musician devoted to making American music just as Mark Twain was devoted to creating American literature, its name will be Jack White — regardless of its gender. And it will ALWAYS be called “Jack White,” one word: no nicknaming to “Jack.”
It’s all especially meaningful because Mark Twain himself adored cats. He owned as many as 19 at at time, and he gave them names like Buffalo Bill, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, Soapy Sal, and Pestilence. I spend a lot of time thinking about what Mark Twain would think about things, and I feel confident he’d approve of “Jack White.”
But this is all new to me, and while I’m already being advised by some pretty high-level cat people, I’d love your advice, too. What do I need to do — and what do I need to make sure I DON’T do — to make this work for all involved?
At a time when the prospect of brand-new experiences, other than learning to properly light yourself for Zoom and to keep your eyeglasses from fogging up when you’re wearing a facemask, are few and far between, I am so grateful to my colleagues for making this possible for me. And, heaven help me, I am grateful for the very presence of young Jack White, a brand-new, brave creature in this crazy world of ours.
Welcome, Jack White!
photo credit: Grace Belanger
cat-rescue credit: Bridget McGrath