Saturday, July 20, 2013

My "Boys" - Che and Tesla, by Cecilia Brainard

My "Boys" - Che and Tesla, by Cecilia Brainard

I call them "my boys" and they are not real boys at all, but a couple of gray alley cats that we adopted two years ago.  Their adoption came after a grieving period for a beautiful orange tabby who died of poisoning.  It was a terrible death, one I fortunately missed because I was out of town.

We have always had cats, from the time we lived in San Francisco and then in Santa Monica, some alley, some Siamese pedigrees. They were always outdoor cats.  After we got over Kiki's death (read Kiki, a Story about our Cat), we decided to get a kitten, and we rescued Mao, a beautiful classic Tabby from the pound.  In fact, it was an unusual adoption, with around six interested parties and we had to bid on Mao. I bid high, to make sure we'd get him; and I recall two women who snidely came up to me and said they could take better care of Mao than I would (or something like that).  I remembered their bitter words when Mao died of poisoning.  Mao was an indoor cat, but one Sunday when my son and his children were here, he escaped and roamed outside. We suspect he licked drippings of radiator fluid from our neighbor's car.  In any case, he died a horrible death, and we spent almost a year grieving over him. We swore we would never have another cat again.

But the house felt lonely.  I have some fish in pots and bowls, but they don't really fit the bill of "pets."  There's something to be said about furry, cuddly pets. So we decided to adopt two kittens, this time brothers who would get along and who would entertain each other, and they would remain firmly indoors.

Here in California, the animal shelters and some pet stores put up cats and dogs and other animals for adoption, but they are anally strict and behave as if you were actually adopting a human child.  They asked my husband if he swore the kittens would be indoor, and my truthful husband said it's possible they may get out, now and then, and so we were forbidden to adopt from these sponsoring agencies.

We turned to Craig's List. And found Carol Koons, a  rescue woman with around a dozen cats and kittens and six dogs to boot.  This was July 2011. Yes, she had two very nice brother-kittens and did we want to see them?  We drove across town to see them.  If they behaved well, we would adopt them; if they were even slightly weird, we would walk away.

Carol met us in front of her bungalow and brought us to her kitchen, which was connected to the garage.  When she opened the door, the dogs in the other part of the house barked, and a dozen cats and kittens sidled up to her side.  Carol had just come from work, but she had boiled chicken in a slow cooker for the dogs, and broth for the cats.  The cats and kittens swarmed around the huge bowl of chicken soup with bits of chicken and liver.  It was a cool night, and frankly that steaming chicken soup looked inviting. Two of the kittens were the brothers she spoke off.  Both gray. One a mackarel tabby, and the other bluish-gray with a  bit of white, a spitting image of their mom who was now one of Carol's rescued cats. They were quite charming.

Carol had been walking her dogs when the dogs had sniffed something behind a bush.  When Carol investigated, she found a mother cat with five newborn kittens. She saved them.  Two of the kittens were in new homes, but she was still looking for homes for the three.

We took the brothers and named them Tesla (after Nicolai Tesla), and Che (after Che Guevara). Big names for rescued alley cats. Tesla was the runt of the litter, but was the aggressive one; Che was bigger and stronger but has always deferred to Tesla.  In other words, Tesla is the Brains, and Che the Brawn. Tesla greets people and tries to manipulate them into loving him; Che hangs back and is shy.

However, I saw them react when a dog was over.  Tesla hid behind Che, and Che was on an attack mode.  The poor dog was actually afraid of them.

These two make me laugh, daily, with their endless antics.  For instance, they do this thing where they fall off their cat tree or a chair.  I have no idea why they do this, but they're napping and will suddenly roll off whereever they are.  They never get hurt, and sometimes they catch themselves with their claws. They love each other and love us.  They are not as needy of our affection as our other cats in the past did; I assume this is because they have each other. 

Anyway, when I got in last night they were somewhat aloof--they get cranky when I "abandon" them--but in no time, they were squirming all over me.

Their birthday is this July, and I should send these pictures to Carol too, so she knows the boys are doing fine.

All for now.  Jetlagged Cecilia, signing off from Santa Monica,  until next time.


These pictures are recent and show them right beside me. They always want to hang near me.
tags: pets, cats, kittens, family, Cecilia Brainard

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