I have two kittens. My early morning quiet is punctuated by the drumroll of eight tiny paws hurtling up and down stairs, on and off furniture, in and out of rooms. Set free from the confines of their overnight room, all that energy demands release. A thrown-away crumpled ball of paper becomes a delight – prey to be batted around, pounced on, chased. Once, they found the ultimate prize under the sideboard – a dead bumblebee! Pot plants rustle delightfully when playing tag through them, one at each side, and any object on a high surface is guaranteed to make a fascinating noise as it crash lands on the floor, if they can only get up there to knock it off. Curtains are made for climbing on, and for having mock tussles with each other while both cling on with claws hooked into the fabric.
Fingal is a black and white ‘tuxedo’ kitten, with a white bib, paws and underbelly, and a smudged diagonal white mark across his nose. His eyes are as round as the hole in a polo mint and full of kittenish wonder. He’s a floppety sort of cat, constantly falling off things, utterly relaxed, toppling and rolling onto his back at every opportunity, softness personified.
He thinks everyone is his friend, and so far that’s the way it’s worked out. He loves people, and will start up a deep rattling purr like the waves breaking on a pebble beach, at the slightest hint of attention from a human. Sometimes it’s hard to believe such a sound can come from such a small creature. He loves to cuddle, and his greeting to me is to come close to my face and very, very gently touch noses. This makes him – and me – very happy.
Flora is a tabby who looks a lot like a snow leopard – she’s exquisitely beautiful (this photo doesn’t do her justice). Her eyes are almond shaped and full of bright intelligence – while Fingal plays the clown, she is the brains of the outfit. She’s fussy about who touches her. When she first arrived I thought she was nervous, but then I realised she’s not scared of much at all, although she exercises a sensible caution in her interactions.
It took nearly a week before she’d let me stroke her, although she consented to play-fight my finger from the beginning. She did this with grace and gentle politeness, claws immaculately sheathed, never hurting me, just the velvet bat of her pads against my hand. It turns out she prefers men to women – she was all over Geoff the minute she saw him, eyes squinting shut in ecstasy as he rubbed behind her ears. That made me happy as well, if a little jealous. She adores Fingal, too, and tenderly puts an arm round his neck as she uses the other paw to wash his face. There’s no doubt she prefers men, but she’s getting to quite like me anyway, despite my gender. Last night she curled up on my lap and slept, and I’m now permitted to stroke and pet most areas although not, for some reason, her head and face.
They have brought such joy into my life. I still have Wicca, my cat of almost twenty years old, but it was making me terribly sad to see her so frail and old. She’s my first cat love and will always be very special to me, but I needed to bring some life and promise and joy into the house and the kittens have done just that. Wicca is being coddled, with hot water bottles on a comfy chair and everything she needs in one room, and we’re doing our best to make her remaining time as comfortable and happy as possible. I still feel sad to see her so reduced, but the fun and freshness of the kittens counteract that to a large extent, and promise a future where I won’t be left alone in a home empty of animals.
Photographing kittens is so difficult! These shots aren’t great, as I had to use an ISO of 1600, and even that wasn’t enough to get a truly fast enough shutter speed that would totally avoid camera or subject movement. Unfortunately my old camera only goes this far up the scale – I was using it because I think there are some focussing issues with the new one. I hope to get some better shots soon – the kittens are changing and growing so fast and I want to capture the cuteness before I find they’ve grown into full-size cats without me noticing. And it seems to me that sometimes it’s good enough for a photo’s to function as memory, and that a shot is worth having if it brings those to mind when you look at it, even if it’s sorely lacking in technical merit.