Before I had kids, I had cats. Cats who I treated as kids. In my tenure as a vet tech, I bottle-fed many a litter of kittens, as well as a few puppies, a squirrel, a chipmunk, and three glorious raccoons. Once they were old enough to feed and clean themselves, I’d find homes for them, or make arrangements for them to be rehabbed into the wild.
Or at least, that’s what I’d try to do.
The thing about raising kittens, and not being a cat, is it’s really hard to teach them how to be a cat. Without a furry mama, they don’t always learn about bite inhibition, or appropriate times to use maximum claw force, especially in relation to human skin and couches. But kittens have a saving grace, and that’s being cuter than most human babies.
This brings me to Enzo Bear.
About 5 years ago, I was at working at a vet hospital in Rhode Island when a flustered woman walked in carrying a shoe box. She explained she’d found the box while taking out her own trash, and when she picked it up to throw it away, she’d felt the weight shift and peeked inside. She lifted the cover, and revealed a tiny tuxedo kitten, scarcely bigger than a Twinkie. His eyes were crusted shut, his breathing was raspy, and he was dehydrated.
The woman was understandably upset, as she didn’t want a kitten, nor did she have the finances to attempt a rescue, but her kind heart forced her to bring him in. We agreed to take him, and, in an effort to at least provide him a warm, safe space to die (if he didn’t respond to treatment), I volunteered to take over his care.
Fastforward to now.
Enzo Bear didn’t die, though he did give us a few scares in the beginning, nor did he ever find a new home, possibly because he is mucho naughty, possibly because I fell in love with his adorable kitten face and silly antics.
He is now a thriving, handsome, wild, daring monkey-cat, who thinks he’s a real boy. He gives high-fives, and has his own “place” (a trick often taught to dogs). He loves his girl, and is warming to the newest edition of our family, the boy. He cuddles with us every night, and follows me around the house every day.
But of all of Enzo B’s defining features, the one thing that stands out (besides his proclivity to bite strangers) is his stubbornness. Now there is a chance this has less to do with being hand-raised, and more to do with just being a cat, but compared to the other cats in my life, of which there have been many, none quite compare to The Bear.
Recently that stubbornness has manifested in the form of regular stand-offs with the girl. Cat vs Toddler, round after round they go. He sits on her things, and gets in her way. She hoots and hollers at him, and he just stares her down with his his signature squint. It honestly feels like he is her older sibling, intentionally pushing her buttons and establishing his place. He was first. She must honor him.
Our family wouldn’t be complete without our first born fur kid. But sometimes I wonder if there’d be just a titch less drama.
(This hilarious comic was created by the oh-so-talented, Adrienne Hedger, of Hedger Humor. Be sure to stop by, and check out her musings on modern day parenting and life.)