My wife, Brenda, and I added a kitten to our household a few months ago.
One night after work, I was getting gas at the Valero station in Diamondhead and I heard a screeching noise. Leaving the pump on automatic, I walked in the direction of the sound, and it stopped. I went back to my car; the sound resumed. Flashlight in hand this time, I searched again and determined the squawking was coming from a hedge bush near the busy street. Peering inside, I found a tiny kitten perched in the pinnacle of the privet.
My first observation was auditory, and had been made from a distance: She was loud!
My second observation was visual: She was three-colored. Not only did that give her a 99.44 percent chance of being female, it greatly raised the likelihood that she was feisty. Add that to a high probability of being completely feral, and the risk for bodily harm was great.
Before I reached for her, we had a discussion. Well, more like a lecture. "Tiny little kitty, if you eat me, you're staying right here in this bush!"
I slowly reached my left hand -- I need the right one for future surgeries -- toward the kitten and she continued to yowl but showed no aggression. I touched her; no reaction. I picked her up by her scruff and she froze. She was already showing me how smart she was!
She perched herself on my left shoulder and I got back on the interstate. I phoned my wife to let her know I'd be late getting home, as I had to take the kitten to the nearby shelter. She said, "Bring her home. She might be mine."
By way of explanation, I should relate another story here. One Saturday afternoon last summer I was doing some yard work and went into the kitchen for some cold water. I saw Brenda in her favorite spot in our house, a loveseat in the bay window that overlooks the bayou. She was crying. Putting my arm around her, I asked, "Baby, what in the world is the matter?"
Barely able to talk for sobbing, she said, "I just wanted a kitty who would sit in my lap and love me."
Our Max, while he's a terrific cat, is no lap cat. He likes being petted. He likes being nearby. He just doesn't want to be held.
So, naturally, the prospect of a new kitty held the possibility that she might be a lap cat.
I took her home, and it was instant affection. The kitten squalled and purred so much that I worried she might vibrate the nails out of the wall studs. Satisfied, she curled up in Brenda's lap and fell asleep.
Around that same time we had been watching a movie about the famous and famously outrageous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Since Brenda didn't want her new kitten named after a gas station, Valero was out, and she named her Frida.
Let's just hope her three-colored self doesn't turn out to be as wild as her namesake.
Today, several months later, Frida is, indeed, the lap cat Brenda wanted. As a bonus, she's a terrific conversationalist, too. When Brenda reclines on the couch, Frida likes to climb neck high, gaze into her eyes and chat and cuddle until she falls into deep kitten sleep.
Next time, we'll talk about the challenge of feeding two cats in one household two different diets, and how we addressed the challenge.
Dr. Jim Randolph, a veterinarian at Animal General Hospital in Long Beach, can be reached at South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association, 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach, MS 39560. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope.