Toxic Environment


When we came back from the disastrous vet appointment, the rescue cats were quarantined in our enclosed porch. We had scheduled a second try at blood work and shots and had only four weeks to convert the kittens to a semblance of domestication. Wendi announced that it was time to put them through Kitten Boot Camp.

Assuming the mantle of drill sergeant, she started to put them through their paces. Within a week, she had them literally eating out of her hand, and she could pet them a little while they ate. It seemed as though every day brought new progress.

My efforts as emergency back-up substitute sergeant were not as effective. The mother cat was fine with me, but the kittens have identified me as a gigantic, lumbering threat. I did stick my finger (covered in chicken baby food) in their hidey-hole and got the girl kitten to show her head. Now she runs away from me but is sure to stay within sight — you know, because chicken.

(What is it about chicken that cats crave so much? Did their ancestors hunt wild chickens along the banks of the Nile? Now that I think about it, where did chickens even come from? I bet Erich von Daniken never thought about that angle.)

The weirdest part of the whole process was that our own cats all started to climb into bed with us at night. At first we thought they were just feeling jealous and needy. After all, Wendi was spending a lot of time with the rescue cats. Then we noticed that they were spending their weekdays upstairs as well. Were they that offended by the newcomers that they didn’t even want to be downstairs?

That didn’t seem right. They had no hesitation about joining us in the living room; they just wanted nothing to do with the first floor unless we were there. We just had no idea why.

After a while, Wendi decided that the rescue cats had gotten used to human voices. We had set a clock radio by the door — set to NPR — and had been turning it on when we went to bed or left for work. Now we felt that it was okay to stop doing that.

The day after we stopped turning on the radio, our cats were back to their normal routine of lounging around downstairs.

Apparently, they had really hated talk radio.

Perhaps the authorities should start using “Morning Edition” to break stand-off situations.

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