Kitkat’s a tiny child-of-the-wild kitten who’s adopted us a little over a month ago. This evening she’s running from the living room to the kitchen and back, she can smell the chicken boiling but it’s not in her yellow bowl. When the chicken and some warm water (or what K calls ‘soup’) makes it to her bowl, she will only eat if the bowl is placed close enough to the sliding door that faces the garden.
We’re still figuring things out, Kitkat, K and me. I’m awkward and clumsy, K is infinitely patient and ginger-colored Kitkat is a scared kitten always on the edge, jumping at the slightest sound. This scrawny kitten has wounds from fights with other neighbourhood cats and is constantly watching out for intruders. She adopts us till she disowns us - she disappears for days and weeks together and then suddenly turns up at dinner time.
KitKat reminds me of what it must be to be a new mom but surely it takes more effort, caution and less clumsiness. There are no routines to teach - Kitkat doesn’t have the patience for humans and their antics. She sleeps on chairs and couches, and K’s lap and in the box. She mews when she wants the doors opened, or if she’s hungry and scratches the couch if she has to pee. She rubs herself against us after her meal - that must be a thank you gesture for the meal, right? She turns over and starts rolling - does that mean she’s happy and want a belly rub? Do cats like belly rubs?
I’m new to the idea of cats in the house. When cats are mentioned, I’m the one who pipes up “I’m not a cat person. Eesh.” The one-time she cuddled on my lap, I had to turn skyward and breathe in gulps of air - her tummy vibrated against my legs, her tail curled inwards and out, when I tried to pick her up her claws caught on to my trousers and scratched my legs. What do I do? The other day, I fed her minced chicken whilst wearing shorts. She then rubbed herself against me, I squealed and jumped. She bolted in the direction of the mint garden and didn’t come back for 3 days.
This is all really new and challenging to me - there’s someone who’s now a part of our life, whose needs are different than ours but have to be considered on par with our own. Though all of this wasn’t of our choosing, we did choose to go with it. But she can’t be domesticated, this wild kitten. Someone for whom we pick up minced chicken every week doesn’t stay long enough to call her, our pet. Someone who doesn’t have to scrounge for food and doesn’t have to fight for survival comes back bruised and wounded every other night.
We have to make soup for her on days when she’s in, let her out at her convenience and make space for her on the couch when she’s in a cuddly mood. Oh, yes…We also have to clean up after her. A week ago, she ran to the bedroom upstairs, found a few Fabindia paperbags and peed into them! Never having dealt with cat pee, I scrunched my nose and hid myself in the other bedroom and K cleaned up after her. (“No, Kitkat. No!”)
She’s learned that a loud No actually means No, and a hand pointed down accompanied by an instruction to sit means she should stop at the kitchen door and roll on the mat outside. Our Sunday evening has been interrupted by KitKat threatening to come underfoot as she and we scamper from kitchen to living room and back with her bowl. She’s frightened of a toy we picked up for her. She poops in our garden and then eats in the living room. None of that ‘don’t shit where you eat’ stuff for her.
The clothes and couch are covered in cat fur, there’s no room for my revulsion. The only lesson I have learned over the last month is that no good is going to come out of me over-reacting to anything that happens in my life. The constant stream of OMGs and the WTFs that made up my days?
No, KitKat, no.