Well here we are, weeks later. My little black kitten has grown into a handsome, active boy. Life with Cubby has been an adventure for Sochi, my senior cat and me. Glass has been broken, earrings lost and my mouth guard chewed. I have underestimated the ingenuity of my little friend and so I have learned over the weeks how to “kitten proof” my home. It was strange how he kept trying to climb the same lamp in the living room, causing me to jump up to save it from toppling.Then it occurred to me that the little devil was after the shell necklaces adorning the shade! Tablecloths are a new taboo as are floral bouquets–dried or fresh–he’ll munch either, mini blinds–he uses them for climbing, and a tall fake bamboo tree that he managed to swing from and crash to the floor!
I have used all manner of distraction for Cubby. I have provided kitty toys, tents to hide in, super balls to tear after, things I wanted him to play and exercise with to keep him occupied and happy. Unfortunately he bored easily with his own amusements preferring mine instead. Sochi the senior, watched him with a stern green eye and was quite adept at putting him in his place, particularly if she was in what has become the little blue war tent. I have seen Cubby leap in, disturbing her slumber, only to be soundly wrestled with and dumped unceremoniously out. He has been known to go back for more.
A few weeks back I had a chat with the vet as Cubby hissed and attempted to bite the technician. Ears flat to his head, little teeth bared, he had turned into a diminutive black panther before my eyes.
Our conversation went like this:
Vet: “Is he always this vicious?”
Me (Trying to hide the scratch on my cheek with my hand): “Oh, he gets wound up at times you know. He’s so healthy and has this amazing energy– it overwhelms him I think, so when he gets fiesty, I just give him a time out in my bedroom until he calms down.”
Vet (Eyeing my cheek): “And how is that working out?”
Me: “Well it doesn’t work every time of course…”
Vet: “Kittens aren’t children. They don’t understand time outs. This little fellow was done out of being socialized by losing his mother and siblings. That job is now yours. Have you tried hissing?”
Me: “Pardon me?”
Vet: “Hissing at him, like this.” She picked him up, he spat at her and she promptly hissed and put him down. He ran back into the carrier.
Me: “Oh, well yes, I can do that!”
Vet: “Not too often of course. He must learn that you are not a toy. Be consistent.”
Back home I practiced hissing in the mirror. It was a bit like gargling and expelling air at the same time. Yes, I could be quite formidable, like a mother cat. Out of nowhere the sleek dynamo raced into the bathroom and proceeded to attack my bare feet. I bent down, pulled him up and hissed loudly into his face. He leapt away from me and tore pell mell to the living room. I smiled to myself at this non invasive form of discipline and checked my cheek. It was healing nicely.
The following days I limited my hissing to select moments. His biting and scratching certainly warranted it. I tried various play distractions in between to use up his excess energy. He was quite sweet after his naps, licking my face and purring, but like Jekyll/Hyde the lick could morph into a bite at any time. My throat was getting tired from hissing and a friend suggested a squirt of water as a deterrent. I rescued a pitcher of flowers this way, but then discovered after he joined me in a tepid bath, that he likes water. Now when I pick up the little bottle to squirt him, he opens his mouth!
Despite the adjustments, I love our cozy moments, which as he gets older, seem to be more frequent. Just the other day I was lying on the bed reading when he leaped upon me from the dresser. Hmmmm, friend or foe? I wondered. He moved his face close to mine, purring a sweet resonance and started to lick my cheek. He stopped and gently took my chin in his teeth while his little gold eyes studied my face.
“Nooooo, nice. Be nice Cubby,” I said. He resumed his licking.