Saturday, June 26, 2010

Introducing Tabbouleh

The “weekend”—something humans have but cats don’t—was winding down. Cheese was lazing in the front window; dozing off, but keeping one eye slightly opened in case those fascinating finches came back to the feeder.

Banana was in the basement with Karen, ready to advise Karen on her ironing technique if asked. Suddenly, there was a lot of noise coming from downstairs; Cheese made ready to dash to a place of safety, but realized it was just family noise. Family noise was OK, but add in one unfamiliar sound, and Cheese was going under—under the bed, that is. He saw Gale dash by, heard a door slam, then turned his attention back to the feeder.

A few minutes later, as Cheese watched a small bird pull a thistle seed out of a hole in the feeder, Banana came running into the room. She slid to a stop on the carpet and breathlessly shouted, “Cheese!!! Come quick!! There’s something…something….well, something….OH!!! Just come!”

The two cats rushed to the kitchen, where they saw Gale hand Karen something tiny and brown and wiggly. The something in Karen’s hands was crying, and the cats’ ears pricked up at the sound. It was a cry they both recognized, because they had cried that cry before—this KITTEN was scared and hungry and wanted its’ mom RIGHT NOW!!! The women talked a minute, then hurried outside with the kitten; Banana and Cheese rushed to the door too, straining to see if the mother cat would appear and reclaim its baby. Surely it would hear the kittens’ cries—it was pretty loud!

“Cheese, do you think it’s one of Twitch’s kittens?” whispered Banana.

“Hmmm….I’m not sure….I thought her babies were older. Maybe?” Cheese didn’t like this feeling; he was scared for the kitten, who seemed so sad, and his insides were flopping because he didn’t know what he was supposed to do: was he supposed to hide? Go out and find the mother himself? Take charge and carry the kitten to its mother?

Before he could think of an answer, Gale and Karen were back, with the kitten. Banana and Cheese followed them into the kitchen again, where they watched Gale pull open drawers and open a big book. She picked up the phone, and dialed. After a few minutes of conversation and a lot of “I don’t know” responses from Gale, she hung up the phone. The cats watched Karen grab her keys, and then the women and the still-crying kitten were gone.

Time passed. Cat time is not the same as human time; for instance, time went slowly for Banana every morning when she waited for Karen to get up and feed her, but seemed to speed up when a squirrel moved from tree to ground to tree, but tonight it seemed like a very, very long time before Banana and Cheese heard the garage door opening again. Doors slammed, bags were dropped on the kitchen counter, and then, for a few moments, it was quiet again. That’s when the cats heard the kitten crying….still. But, maybe it seemed a little less afraid, or maybe it was getting sleepy—it’s so hard to tell with kittens that little. More drawers were opened and shut, utensils clanged, and there was a great business throughout the house. Cheese decided this was no place for him, so he found a nice quiet corner in Peter’s room. Banana watched the activity for a while, but was at a loss for what direction to give, so sat by the window with her ears pricked, listening…just in case.

Before long, it was close to midnight (at least that’s what Gale said), and the kitten was asleep in a box with a towel-covered heating pad. Karen and Gale were slumped in chairs in the living room, surrounded by an array of things that smelled like kitten—bottles, syringes, paper towels, toilet paper, cotton balls, and the kitchen looked like a cook-who-isn’t-quite-a-good-cook had been mixing things in bowls and pans with whisks and spoons.

As Banana and Cheese surveyed the chaos, they could tell something had definitely changed in the house. It wasn’t just the kitten smell; it was having the kitten there. This little creature needed this family, all of them—for food, warmth, protection. It needed kindness and gentleness. It needed love. Banana and Cheese weren’t quite sure what all of this meant for them, but they were sure of one thing—having Tabbouleh in the house meant a new set of adventures were just beginning.

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