A Kittens' Christmas

(A Tale of Two Kitties)

The kitten gazed in awe at the sparkling Christmas lights way above him. They were so beautiful, he thought, as he shivered in the cold night air. Almost beautiful enough to take his mind off the icy wind that seemed to blow right through his thin frame. He shivered again and looked away from the black night sky, lit by a myriad of twinkling stars as if to mimic the trees he saw through half curtained windows as he desperately searched dustbins for even the tiniest morsel of food.

 

He shivered yet again and curled up into a ball to preserve what little heat remained in his scrawny body. It hadn’t always been like this, he mused, as he drifted into a fitful slumber.

 

The kitten gazed in awe at the sparkling Christmas lights way above him. They were so beautiful, he thought, as he stretched luxuriously, basking in the heat of the room. Almost beautiful enough to take his mind off the warm spot in front of the fire. He stretched again and looked away from the huge pine tree, lit by a myriad of twinkling lights as if to mimic the sky he saw through half curtained windows as he munched contentedly on his biscuits.

 

He stretched yet again and rolled over to allow the heat from the fire to radiate over his whole body. It hadn’t always been like this, he mused, as he drifted into a peaceful slumber.

 

Once he had been warm, happy and loved, in a home of his own. There had been children to play with and fuss him, plenty of food to eat and lots of neighbourhood cats to chase and be chased by. It had been a wonderful life. Admittedly, he had missed his mother when, at the age of 6 weeks, he had been plucked from her and given to the friends of her owner, but they had given him a warm bed to sleep in and a fresh litter box every day and lots of deliciously tasty food. After a short while he hardly missed her at all. Life was far too full of fun!

 

Once he had been lost and alone, with no home of his own. There had been no children to play with and fuss him, very little of food to eat and lots of neighbourhood cats to chase and attack him. It had been a dreadful life. He had missed his mother when, at the age of 6 weeks, she had played hit and miss with a car, and lost, and he had run from her cold and lifeless body and hidden, terrified, in the woods. There had been no food and his only bed was the grass. After a short while he hardly missed her at all. Life was far too full of danger.

 

As soon as he was 5 months old he had been allowed to go out into the garden to play, and from there he gradually ventured further, meeting the local cats one by one, and becoming part of the local cat social scene. He never stayed out long, however, the house was always cosy and welcoming in autumn and fresh and cool in summer and he was one of those cats who, no matter what outdoor facilities he had, always preferred the comfort and security of the house, to eat, sleep and even use the litter tray. Despite trying every enticement, encouragement and trick in the book his new people could never get him to use the garden, he insisted on toileting indoors in the litter tray. Little did he realise that this was the beginning of the end for him.

 

As he grew he needed more food, he used the litter tray more and the people became fed up of the time, effort and expense involved in changing it. “I don’t know why that damn cat can’t use the garden like ay other normal cat,” they would moan, “It’s costing us a fortune in cat litter”. They moaned also about the price of cat food and fed him less and less of the premium food he had been used to and more and more table scraps.

 

 

Then he would come in on a rainy day and leave paw prints across the new carpet.  They would shout and rant and rave and throw him outside. One day they did this literally and he landed heavily upon a stone, hurting his leg and causing him to limp. Full of remorse they picked him up and rushed him to the vets, claming that he fell off the window ledge. When they saw the bill they moaned again all the way home. “I really don’t see how that vet has the nerve top charge that for a few minutes work! Scandalous! That’s the last time we are going there!”

 

And it was.

 

He somehow survived despite the local cats never accepting him and always trying to attack him. He never stayed out of cover long; however, the wood was his refuge and his source of food, learning as he had at an early age to hunt the small field mice and voles that played at dusk.  At least he had been born in the summer so he was not cold and food was fairly plentiful – when he could catch it!

 

As he grew he needed more food and became more adept at catching the small prey but it was not enough to fill him and he remained small and thin for his age, but he survived, just. One day he smelt food, real food! Sardines. Hungrily he ran to the source of the smell and gobbled up the tasty fish in seconds, oblivious of the door of the trap shutting behind him.  Once he had finished he turned and stopped dead. He was trapped! Frantically he ran around the trap, up and down, along the sides, but there was no escape. Finally he sat and shivered, scared out of his wits, and waited for the man to come.

 

And he did.

 

The next time they threw him for misbehaving (he had brought them a mouse. He had caught it, they seemed to need the food for him so he brought it to them partly as a thank you and partly as a sign that he could fend for himself a little too and they needn’t worry about the food bill,) he was left to his own devices. The leg eventually healed but it healed crooked and he limped permanently thereafter. They ridiculed him and made him stay out more and more – “We don’t want a stupid crippled cat,” they would say, and the children would pull faces and chant” Cripple cat, cripple cat, we don’t want a cripple cat. Take that and that and that and THAT!” At which they would throw stones at him to make him stay away.

 

Then one day they put him into his carrier and drove him off in the car to a place he had never seen before. They took the carrier out of the car and put it down on the floor, loosening the catches. Then they got back into the car and drove off, leaving him there. At first he was frightened and stayed where he was, then it began to grow dark and he struggled with the door until the loose catches gave way and he scrambled out. Where was he? All alone and frightened, he knew that, but WHERE?

 

To his surprise the man was gentle and had a kind voice, though he had not really had enough experience of people yet he felt instinctively that this man was not going to harm him.  The trap, with him still in, was put into a car and taken to a large white place that smelled of animals and disinfectant and the last thing he knew was a sharp prick in his paw and drifting off to sleep.

 

He awoke slowly to find he was in a carrier being driven off in the car to a place he had never seen before. They took the carrier out of the car and put it down on the floor, loosening the catches. Then they stepped back, shut a door, and left him there. At first he was frightened and stayed where he was, then it began to grow dark and he struggled with the door until the loose catches gave way and he scrambled out. Where was he? All alone and frightened, he knew that, but WHERE?

 

 

Minutes turned to hours, hours to days and days to weeks. Autumn turned to winter and food grew scarce. The once plump, healthy kitten grew thin and ill. People saw him but he was now so scrawny and sick that no one would go near. He finally took refuge in the wood, which was where he now lay, in the freezing Christmas Eve night, gradually stiffening in the snow and which was where they later found his sad little skeleton in the spring, stripped bare by the woods’ predators.

 

Oh yes, it had once been so very, very different.

 

He settled to his new abode. There was a box with blankets, fresh water and litter twice daily and food was plentiful. The once scrawny and sick kitten grew plump and healthy.  People came to see him and one day he was plucked from his prison and taken to a small but cosy abode populated by two people and a lot of cats. He soon settled and enjoyed playing with the other cats. He had the best food, cataerobic centres to climb on and a safe enclosed garden to adventure in, well away from traffic, dogs and people who might wish him harm. He had a HOME!  Which was where he now lay, stretched out contentedly in front of a blazing fire dreaming of the presents to be his tomorrow, on Christmas Day.

 

Oh yes, it had once been so very, very different.

 

 

 

A tale of two kitties indeed. Is it true or is it a fantasy? Did the two kittens exist or were they figments of the imagination? Were there ever, in fact, two kittens, or were they the same kitten in two different lives? The only thing that is certain is this:-

 

Each one could, dealt a different hand, be the other.

 

So when you look at that cute bundle of fur in your neighbour’s kitchen, in the local pet shop, at the breeder’s or in the local cat rescue, think long and hard about the responsibility you are taking on, not just for a few months but for the life of the cat. Think about that fact that cute kittens grow up to be, sometimes, not so cute cats. Think about the expense of good food, proper veterinary care, the time involved in looking after the cat and, finally, ask yourself this.

 

 

 

WHICH CHRISTMAS DID/WILL YOUR KITTEN HAVE?

 

 

© C. Walker 2002