Pickles was never supposed to be cat #9. He was supposed to stay outside with his feral mama and papa and his feral siblings.
Here he is the very first time I saw him. Four siblings are tucked under that hosta, protected by Mama, but there goes Pickles venturing down the driveway to attack a squirrel. Curiosity wins out over fear every time for Pickles.
Here he is a few days later, no mama in sight, traipsing around the garage feeding station looking for a snack. He didn’t run when I came outside, didn’t run when I crept up to him, didn’t run when I reached my hand out for him to sniff. Within minutes of meeting each other, he let me pick him up and hold him. I’m not sure he liked it. But curiosity won out over fear. Pickles simply didn’t know he was supposed to be a feral cat.
And here he is a week later, sitting on my bed after a late-night rescue operation involving a raccoon–with no mama in sight to protect or retrieve her kitten. It was supposed to be a one-night thing. Keep him safe from the raccoon until morning, when mama would return to the feeding station and he could be placed outside for her to find.
But then he spent the night curled up beside my pillow. He purred. He played. He fell asleep in my lap. He appeared to be the World’s Best Kitten. He was certainly the World’s Cutest.
And his mama was so very absent-minded, constantly wandering off without one or more of her kittens, leaving them alone to fend off possums, raccoons, and other feral cats and then to cross the road alone to return home. In just a couple of weeks of being out in the world, two of his siblings had already disappeared. If we put him back outside, we’d probably end up having to rescue him again–if he didn’t meet a violent end first.
Usually the decision to add another cat involves endless conversation and strategizing and changing our minds and looking for other options (rescues, shelters, fosters, my long-suffering mother) first. But the morning after rescuing him from the raccoon, we looked at Pickles and we just knew. Cat #9.
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