Miracle Kitty Part 2
Periodically Dad Cat would be allowed to roam the neighborhood. Most of the people there were fine with this. But there are always the complainers and they kept pestering the city about Dad Cat. The city fathers put pressure on the breeder to close down his operation. As I say, his difficulty was our opportunity.
We reentered the house to see the kittens. There were only two six week old kittens left from this last litter. The breeder brought out one, a reddish-brown striped male. His littermate, a female, was sleeping in the safe room. The breeder told us she hadn’t been weaned yet. Sarah fell instantly in love with this little boy; he was instantly in love with Sarah. While the two of them were communing I had a surprise. Up onto the dining table jumped a little gray ball of fur, who turned out to be the boy’s sister. She immediately pranced up to me and began a romance. I was hooked.
We had intended to bring home one kitten. We brought home two. The breeder was concerned about the female, since she was still nursing. He gave me instructions about how to wean her, using a special milk substitute that I could get from the pet store. I wrote down the particulars and we prepared to leave.
Consider what that good man must have been feeling. These were the last of his kittens. He clearly was in love with them and this showed in their sweet spirits. It must have broken his heart to let them go. He had done this before, it is true, but these were the last, the end. There could be no more. I hope he saw in us the kind of happy future that was in store for these precious little beings. That would have helped.
We installed the kittens in the TV room. This was a small room adjacent to the kitchen which could be closed off to keep the kittens safely confined when we were not present. This was to be their nursery room for a few months. We had no trouble weaning the little female. Really, she weaned herself.
“What shall we name them?” I asked Sarah. “Don’t worry,” she replied. “They will soon tell you their names.” And so it was. Misty told us first. Her silver gray coat, and lively disposition, made this name inevitable. Merlin was the only possibility for the little boy, given his incessant curiosity, boldness, and obvious high intelligence. Was there an element of magician in him as well, which is what I associate with the name?
How intelligent was he? He was a kitty genius. I am not exaggerating. His creative understanding of spatial relationships is typically seen in a human child only around the age of ten. Let me give one example.
It is necessary to know the physical layout confronting Merlin to understand just how incredibly bright he really was. Between the nursery room and the kitchen was a long sight line that gave a view down the hallway to the bedrooms. The kittens in their early exploration could look down this corridor, but they never ventured in that direction. On the other side of the kitchen was the dining room facing the back of the house. The dining room had a sliding glass door that led out onto the patio. Extending to the left from the dining room was the living room, with a fireplace at the far end. The chimney for the fireplace projected out onto the patio and blocked the view down towards the bedroom section of the house.
After a few days the kittens began their exploration of the house – very cautiously at first. They poked their noses out of the nursery and advanced a short distance into the kitchen, each day exploring further. Then, one day, at the far end of the dining room, a racoon passed by right on the other side of the glass sliding door. Misty hid from this monster. Bold Merlin galloped through the kitchen and dining room to see what this curiosity was. But by the time he reached the slider the racoon had disappeared around the side of the house. Merlin swiveled around and, for his first time, looked into the living room. Without hesitation he jumped up on the windowsill and continued to track the waddling raccoon. It was his first time up on a windowsill, too. Amazing for him to figure everything out in an instant.
But Merlin wasn’t finished. The racoon disappeared around the chimney. Merlin tried leaning up against the glass to see, but it was no go. The raccoon was gone. For a moment Merlin sat thinking about the marvelous apparition he had just seen. He turned to me with a quizzical look on his face. “What was thing, Daddy? Where did it go?” Then the light bulb flashed on! He dashed down the hallway, into the bedroom and up onto the windowsill there. Merlin watched as the raccoon ambled the rest of the way across the yard, climbed the fence and disappeared.
I said Merlin was a kitty genius. Consider his astonishing intellectual accomplishment. In a glance he had figured out the layout of the front part of the house and instantly exploited that information to track the passing animal. But more than that, after a moment’s reflection he intuited that there had to be a room down the mysterious hallway, on the other side of the chimney, which would have a window where he could continue to follow the raccoon. Having suddenly realized this he immediately acted. This complex sequence of thought is a classic illustration of a flash of creative insight. And, he was less than two months old! Merlin truly was intellectually gifted.
Please do visit again to see what happened next with Old Merlin (our First Merlin Cat).
© 2023 Chester L. Richards. All rights reserved.
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Miracle Kitty, Part 1
Times were tough. I was barely able to make the mortgage. Four years before I had been fired for refusing a direct order to lie to our customer, the government. The sudden loss of income really hurt. But I already had substantial experience free-lance consulting so somehow I survived. My income was now much less but at least I had retained my self-respect, my honor and my dignity. Those days I was working a sixty hour week, filling the occasional contract, developing new clients and increasing my technical skills.
My dear Sarah had an idea. She had been keenly observing my struggles and concluded that I needed refreshment. Without telling me, she had been doing some homework. And she found the perfect answer. One day she announced that tomorrow we would be driving up the coast to bring home a kitten. Not just any old rag-tag kitten would do. She had in mind that the perfect companion for me was a Bengal Cat.
Sunny, Sarah’s orange tabby cat, a gift of our marriage, had grown feeble with age. One day, while I was working with a client, I came home and Sunny was gone. Sarah had saved me the grief of that last trip to the vet. In the years since then I had really missed that small bundle of cantankerous joy and her practical jokes.
In those long-ago days there was a thing called a newspaper. In its back pages were classified ads placed by the common folk. Sarah found one from a cattery an hour’s drive away. Due to complaints from his neighbors he was going out of business and was hoping to find good homes for his latest batch of kittens. Not any kittens, though; these were Bengal cats. What a find! Just what she had been searching for. Sarah leaped on the opportunity and the next day we drove north.
Bengal cats are a newly developed hybrid between the wild Asian Leopard Cat and domestic American Shorthair. It takes five generations of cross breeding before they are recognized as domesticated. Bengals are big, smart, athletic, affectionate and downright beautiful. For a long time the cat establishment refused to recognize the breed – they were just too darned attractive! This new breed was threatening to become too popular. The day of our excursion Bengals had still not been officially recognized. We were on our way to acquire an outcast.
The cattery was located in a typical California middle class neighborhood – and that was the breeder’s problem, and our opportunity. The owner welcomed us into the house and escorted us to the backyard. There, in a large cage, was an enormous cat. Male Bengals can occasionally get to be the size of a small bobcat. This fellow certainly was bobcat size.
The cat was sitting on a ledge in the back of the cage. I walked up close to get a good look at him. He jumped down and propped himself up next to my nose, opened his mouth, and let out an enormous deep throated roar! Involuntarily I jumped back a couple of steps. The cat’s owner laughed. “He likes you. He really likes you.” Still recovering from the shock, I didn’t understand. “He only greets people that way if he very much likes what he sees.” I wasn’t convinced then but now, with more experience, maybe I have figured it out. This breed is very vocal. They talk incessantly, and are very loud when they are happy. But when they get really angry watch out, they can be truly scary! He certainly scared me with his too enthusiastic greeting. In this case, though, it seems that Big Dad was happy to see me.
But that unexpected greeting also explained the problem the breeder was having and why he was going out of business. This was not a creature to be kept caged. The breeder knew this and let him roam under the condition that he stayed out only for specified brief periods. The cat knew the rules and obeyed. Bengal cats are eminently trainable. Small European circuses often prefer Bengals to dogs as trained animals. That trainability is something we later very much valued.
Please do visit again to see what happened next with Big Dad.
© 2022 Chester L. Richards. All rights reserved.
From Chester L. Richards
Hello, and happy to see you here! A little about what's behind these stories: Having retired from the world of aerospace engineering, I now spend time reading, inventing, listening to music, taking photographs and sharing them with friends. And writing stories. Often about people I've met as I've traveled to exotic places, learned about music, surfing, white water rafting, optics, photography. Every story is true. I hope you enjoy them.