Happy birthday, kittens

Where did the months go? The kittens are approaching their first birthday and soon I won’t be calling them “kittens” anymore. They are emerging now as confident young cats.

The kittens, their siblings and their mother appeared on my neighbor’s back porch one night last July, in a cardboard box lined with bath towels. My neighbor has no idea who left them, but it turned out to be a fortuitous drop-off that resulted in happy endings for all five felines.

The mom is a beautiful longhaired calico, boldly splashed with orange, black and white. Among them, the four kittens bear all of those colors, but not in combination. They divide up into two black-and-white brothers and two orange kittens, a boy and a girl.

All four have adorable white feet. They could have been called Mittens, Boots, Socks and Paws. Instead, my neighbor gave them the placeholder names of Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Moe.

Moe is the only name that stuck, and he’s our cat now, a sleek, smart, athletic individual who manages to be simultaneously passionate and easygoing. I think he’s an old soul, if there is such a thing. Who’s to say the subtle white brush mark on his black-velvet forehead doesn’t denote a third eye?

His red sister, Sassy, is tiny next to him. Where Moe leaps like a gymnast, spinning through the air before firmly reconnecting with the ground, Sassy is more like Tinkerbell. She seems to hover or levitate, lighter than air.

Moe is friendly and self-assured. He trusts in the goodness of life. Sassy is nervous. She hides when anyone comes over, only reappearing when she’s sure all is well. Moe will let you pick him up and hug him. Sassy squirms to get away. Yet, she’s the first to give nuzzles and head butts when it’s her idea to cuddle.

A year apparently isn’t long enough for kittens to fully grow up. In fact, a cat behaviorist told me that cats aren’t mature until they are 2 to 4 years old. My pair still love to frisk and play—and they play hard. Indeed, they rumble so madly that they’ve broken a few treasured items (specializing, it seems, in antique majolica flower pots, which my husband patiently glues back together). Yesterday I went into the kitchen to discover that the cyclamen in the greenhouse window had gotten knocked into the sink, spilling black dirt and vermiculite. Sassy was the perp, giving chase to a bug that had the misfortune to fly in there.

We don’t know the actual date the kittens were born, but working backward from when they arrived on my neighbor’s doorstep, we are setting July 4 as the day we will call their birthday. This way, all of America will celebrate with us. My neighbor kept the mama cat, and my longtime bestie Lisa took the other two kittens in the litter. We are one big happy extended family.

You’ve seen the seasons now, kittens, traveled once around the sun. Happy birthday, little ones!

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