It was a simple equation. My 7-year old daughter, Isabella, was turning 8 in April. A kitten was all she talked about since the loss of our most senior cat, Uni, in January. Locating a suitable feline family addition became a necessity and a welcomed endeavor to focus constructive attention upon in these uncertain times. Thus “Operation Furry Kitten” was launched in mid-February.
I was thinking a long-haired critter would fit the bill. Perhaps of the Persian or Himalayan persuasion – something puffy. A Ragdoll or Ragamuffin breed might work too. Or a Maine Coon.
I wasn’t hung up on it being pure bred or having papers. That being said, this likely was not the type of creature I would run across at the animal shelter or a pet rescue spot. I spent about a month combing through the peculiar world of online catteries and local breeding websites.
These ideal kittens were depicted in costume settings, wearing tiny bows & bonnets, posing on miniature kitten beds, like preadolescent beauty queens. It was creepy. No animal forced into that situation would come out developmentally normal. Not to mention this level of pure bred cat ran $500 – $1,200 each.
I was having no luck. Then on an early March evening just before midnight, I took one last peek at Craigslist before heading to bed and found a post for an adorable Himalayan female, seven weeks old.
I texted immediately. You can’t wait on these things. I apologized for the late hour – but if one doesn’t jump on something that fits the parameters this closely, the critter will get got.
To my surprise the breeder texted right back. A person from Ohio had secured first dibs on the female, and was driving down at 1PM the next afternoon to complete the purchase. But her brother was available. The boyfriend of the breeder had designs on keeping this cute creature, but I was offering cash money.
I started conversing with this breeder again early the next morning. I had a scheduled meeting/conference call at 9:30AM. By the time it was over at noon, the deal was set.
I had one hour to jet home, clean out a cat carrier, hit my bank, and drive 50 miles to Louisville for a clandestine handoff in the parking lot of a Dollar General store.
Yes a little sketch. Yet the price was right at $250. The mom had papers. The dad did not. I was good with that. This balance can help decrease the inbreeding and make the cats potentially more properly adjusted.
The breeder was a smoker. Her car reeked. But my new friend was riding in style in a minuscule kitten carrier, and appeared fit and able for a new adventure. At 7-weeks old, he was just a tiny fur puff, and needed all his shots yet.
A Himalayan is basically a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. This guy featured a blended coat of cream and mocha, with a doll face, where his nose pointed out instead of being flat, and darker brown swept across his nose, ears and paws. These are often referred to as seal point features. What really set him off were his sharp blue eyes against the soft mocha fur.
Upon returning to Frankfort, I took fur-bearin’ over to my folks for a meet-and-greet, and to kill time. I needed Isabella to make it home from her after-school activities. Then I smuggled this little banshee inside for presentation to the birthday girl as an early gift.
Once home, I went back out to the car to supposedly bring a blanket inside. I folded the blanket in half, then rolled our new friend up in the middle so just his brown mocha face and blue eyes were visible when I spun the rolled blanket to the side.
I came back in and asked Isabella if she was still psyched about wanting a kitten for her birthday. “Yes, yes, most definitely!” And is your birthday soon? She did the math and it was like a month away. Then I spun the blanket around and the kitten and Bella locked eyes.
This huge smile spread across her face as joy ignited in her eyes. The jazz hands started going off as she prepared to hold him for the first time. This actually couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, as the whole COVID-19 situation worsened. Non-essential businesses began closing as Kentucky was placed under a “Stay Safe at Home” order by Gov. Andy Beshear.
If I had waited to find another kitten closer to Isabella’s birthday we never would have gotten one. This turned out to be the last week Kentucky kids went to school before heading home to start an early spring break that doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Everyone in my house has points during these cloistered quarantine days when “kitten-time” is a necessity. Rubbing your face across his warm furry belly makes everything better. He loves nibbling on noses and offers daily kitten comedy relief to assuage stress.
His name has proved a bit problematic. We had a divide in the house over the top two final choices. “Theodore or (Theo)” versus “Parker.”
It cracked the birthday girl up that she could point to her dad and say, “Peter,” and look to the kitten and say, “Parker.” The rascal is a web climber of early promise, and the Spiderman reference has merit. Theo works as well, but the whole chipmunk thing is a problem for me. Regardless, he is officially recognized as Theodore Parker.
Now our other two adult cats are not as enthralled with the new family addition. Theodore Parker is a marked man. Both big cats stalk him constantly, and pounce when his back is turned.
He already scored a vet visit for taking a claw swipe to the eye. Squirt guns were deployed to family members for use as deterrent measures, and I bought a NERF Rival soft-assault weapon to light up would-be attackers.
It’s a bit like the Serengeti in my house. Larger cats waiting to attack distracted, weaker prey, but the newby has begun to stand his ground and hiss back.
Theodore Parker and his maturation is exactly what the doctor ordered for a homebound family on the front-end of a never before seen pandemic.
Happy 8th Birthday Isabella!