De gauche à droite: Papagena, Mozart et Papageno

Three little kittens, purring

Fri­day evening. I have already explained here the trag­ic arrival of kit­tens in my home and how, just a week before my hol­i­days began, I was des­ig­nat­ed as an orphan shelter.

At first, I had them con­fined to the entrance, where I thought I could con­tain them by a large white pan­el. My neigh­bors and I did­n’t know what we would do with the kit­tens. I agreed to take care of them because my friends already had three cats who took a neg­a­tive view of these intrud­ers who threat­ened them by the mere beau­ty of their child­hood. After all, a kit­ten is like any baby once the birth col­ors have been removed, it is the most adorable thing in the world and unfaith­ful adults like us may turn away too quick­ly from our first alliances.

Food, for­mu­la, please (actu­al­ly, it’s lac­tose-free milk with a lit­tle syrup and cream), lit­ter. Not prac­ti­cal in the lob­by, but hey, there was an emer­gency. As the night pass­es, the trau­ma­tized cats don’t make too much noise, meow­ing from time to time, scratch­ing lit­ter (already clean, though, it seems). The next day, they are no longer in the lob­by. I don’t know by what acro­bat­ics, they man­aged to get out of the gold­en prison I had con­coct­ed for them. For thir­ty min­utes, I looked for them. There are too many places in my apart­ment to hide. Half the apart­ment is not fin­ished, many easy cor­ners for the kit­tens. I find one under the bed, anoth­er under the couch and the oth­er, mis­er­able, behind the wash­er. It will take a broom on one side, Yves, my friend on the ground floor, on the oth­er side to catch it. Every time, the cats protest, ter­ri­fy­ing isssh­h­h­hh who do not ter­ror­ize any­one since their mouth is so small with their milk teeth that any sud­den shock could dis­lodge them.

We put them back in their pens, and they will take refuge behind the big con­struc­tion roller that I had par­tial­ly unrolled as a pro­tec­tive mat. They will stay there almost the whole day. I some­times hear them tak­ing a walk in the lit­ter box, but if I get close, they leave immediately.

We think it’s going to pass. The goal is to social­ize them qui­et­ly. This will make adop­tion easier.

By chance, a neigh­bor works as a vol­un­teer for the Ani­mal Res­cue Net­work. We take videos, pho­tos, weight mea­sure­ment and fill out the form on their website.

I now under­stand that I will have the kit­tens for longer. My vaca­tion comes in a week and I plan to con­tin­ue my ren­o­va­tions, includ­ing dye­ing the base­boards. With kit­tens in your paws and walk­ing around flush with daisies, you for­get about it !

Sun­day. I give up con­fin­ing kit­tens because their fight­ing spir­it and stub­born­ness over­come my mod­est walls. They don’t go very far, they’re still too afraid. I still can’t get close to them and have to spy on them, try to attract them with all kinds of nois­es that, in my opin­ion, are close to what a moth­er cat emits. But with­out much suc­cess. The first few nights of sleep are dif­fi­cult. As soon as one kit­ten has lost sight of the oth­er two, he starts meow­ing. I get up, look for him, but obvi­ous­ly, he runs away under the couch. Already tired from an intense work week, I fall asleep at around 3am.

On Mon­day, the three of them are on the win­dow ledge of my bed­room. I will lat­er under­stand that they help them­selves to the bars of the stool where the only plant I have sits, then climb on the con­vec­tion heater to reach the win­dow. That morn­ing, I get up, approach a chair. They’re get­ting out of here. In this way, I resolve to be pre­pared for even­tu­al­i­ties. They want to go to the win­dow ? So be it ! A chair is placed there. They find them­selves trapped in my dirty laun­dry bas­ket that does­n’t close very well any­more ? Let’s over­throw him. They’ll sleep in my dirty socks and underwear.
Thus, in a few days, the dis­or­der is orga­nized around the kit­tens. The fol­low­ing days were sim­i­lar. I leave for the office, come back in the evening to see the dam­age and progress. If they are still afraid, the kit­tens no longer hes­i­tate to jump on the bed when I am there. At the slight­est move­ment, they run away like fright­ened flies but come back imme­di­ate­ly. I’m start­ing to take pic­tures of them, try­ing to attract poten­tial own­ers to Facebook.

Tues­day. As I go to bed, I smell a bad smell and humid­i­ty. Fuck ! Fuck ! One of the kit­tens uri­nat­ed near the pil­low. “My Tabar­nak!” is so strong that the cats come out of the room and go to take refuge I don’t know where. It was that same day, I think, that I spent thir­ty min­utes with the help of my friends look­ing for cats when I got back. They were real­ly gone ! But where ? My apart­ment is cer­tain­ly a mess, but not that much ! Final­ly, they are spot­ted in the most unpre­dictable place. My IKEA kitchen is well done, but there is one place that has not been blocked for ten years. A small 4cm open­ing to reach the under­side of the cab­i­nets. For­tu­nate­ly, the base­boards are remov­able. The female always throws us her isssssh­h­hh, which only she thinks is threat­en­ing. But where are his broth­ers ? Equipped with a flash­light, we end up spot­ting a pair of hid­den eyes… behind the dish­wash­er, a place that is obvi­ous­ly only acces­si­ble by them. Well, when they get hun­gry, they’ll come out.

Which they will do an hour lat­er. I leave the under­side of the counter as it is, with­out its base­boards. The dis­or­der con­tin­ues… the smell of the lit­ter box inten­si­fies. What it evac­u­ates, kit­tens ! It eats, uri­nates and defe­cates. And it’s adorable.

But then, I change my sheets and the next day, the kit­tens are on the win­dow sill, look­ing at me inno­cent­ly, curi­ous and fear­ful. Before leav­ing for the office, I estab­lish my strat­e­gy for pro­tect­ing my bed. I make the sheets, place a large plas­tic can­vas and put over the screen that is use­less in my room.

It will be my rit­u­al for the next few days. Wednes­day, Thurs­day, Fri­day, Sat­ur­day, Sun­day, the days are over. Cats get bold, show their per­son­al­i­ty. The female remains dis­tant, reserved, but very curi­ous. One of the males is crunchy with his purring. As soon as he is touched, he starts his big V4 engine.

It is towards the end of the week that I under­stand that they start adopt­ing me even though I did­n’t ask for any­thing. The purrer comes to sleep on the pil­low (you’re bet­ter not to uri­nate on it, you…), the female stays at my feet, some­times plays with my toes. The poly­dactyl with white legs jumps on both sides.

I con­tin­ue videos and pho­tos on Insta­gram and Face­book. Peo­ple laugh at me. “They got you ! They got you ! You’re gonna have to keep them ! “, “Stop tor­tur­ing us with your pic­tures, they’re so cute ! ».

It’s true they’re cute. The week­end is com­ing. I am offi­cial­ly on hol­i­day and the weight of the long hours is being felt. I don’t want to, can’t do any­thing. I sleep a lot. I stay in my bed and that’s how the kit­tens sur­round me, sleep with me or on the edge of the win­dow. I observe them, get attached.

We final­ly receive news from the shel­ter. It will be next Tues­day. I will have to take them to a vet­eri­nary hos­pi­tal for the manda­to­ry vac­ci­na­tion. A vol­un­teer will come after his work to pick up the kit­tens at this place.

These last few days are par­tic­u­lar­ly pleas­ant with kit­tens. They don’t real­ly run away when I arrive, watch me go to the toi­let (I don’t have a door in my bath­room yet…), play will­ing­ly with me, let them­selves be flat­tered (except the female, not yet ful­ly tamed. It is the most com­bat­ive and aggres­sive, but no more. Even with her, I get my way, even if she does­n’t real­ly purr).

Tues­day is com­ing. I still sleep a lot, until 9am and stay in bed all the time. The bed is made, shop­ping too, but I’m veg­e­tat­ing. We brought back the neigh­bors’ cage. I’ve been watch­ing the kit­tens with a lit­tle ball in my stom­ach for two days. And it’s not a furball.…

Could the sep­a­ra­tion be painful ? Mov­ing ? I don’t want cats. A kit­ten grows up to be a tiger, a hunter or a big, irri­ta­ble or inde­pen­dent mop. I don’t hate cats. I had dogs for almost twen­ty years. I’ve giv­en just enough on them, and it’s still so expen­sive to have those. I have just come out of a very bad finan­cial peri­od that was entire­ly my fault and I am still pay­ing for it for the next four years. I am miss­ing a tooth (I am very beau­ti­ful to see when I smile) and I will have to pay for its replace­ment. No, real­ly, no heav­i­ness, no extra respon­si­bil­i­ties, please. All the ani­mals that have come into my life have been brought into my life by cir­cum­stances I did­n’t want. I accept­ed these ani­mals and took care of them. But now I’m say­ing no.

Three o’clock is the time to take the cats to the hos­pi­tal. For­tu­nate­ly, they sleep on the edge of the win­dow. It pulls my heart a lit­tle bit. They are docile. I close my thoughts, sit on the train, the cage by my side.

Kit­tens are both curi­ous and fear­ful. Con­trary to what my neigh­bor Lau­rent told me, no one comes to drag me because I have kit­tens in a cage. That does­n’t mat­ter. No one of inter­est in the hori­zons either. And that’s when I think about giv­ing the cat a name, a lit­tle bit to keep a sig­nif­i­cant chain of mem­o­ries in me. It is after all by nam­ing our sto­ries that we suc­ceed in giv­ing mean­ing to our lives.

I have two poly­dactyl kit­tens and a purring one. I am think­ing of Mozart’s Mag­ic Flute. I smile.

The two poly­dactyls, a male and a female, will be called Papageno and Papa­ge­na. The names are too long, but they’re for me. The purring com­pos­er, he will be Mozart.

I was expect­ed at the hos­pi­tal. The shel­ter had warned them. You have to open files and there­fore name the kittens.

- It will cer­tain­ly not be the name their future own­ers will give them…

- It does­n’t mat­ter, replied the clerk, we need names.

So I pass on the names to him, tak­ing great care to iden­ti­fy each one. The boy does not know The Mag­ic Flute. Mozart, how­ev­er, knows the film. Poverty…

I was tak­en to an exam­i­na­tion room. A vet­eri­nary assis­tant swoons in front of the kit­tens, weighs them down. Here, they’ve tak­en 350 grams since they arrived at my house. It could have defe­cat­ed so often… As much with this lady as with the vet­eri­nar­i­an who takes over, I tell the trag­ic sto­ry of the own­er of the moth­er of the kit­tens. The vet­eri­nar­i­an vac­ci­nates them, inspects them. They are in per­fect health, have no ticks, are docile, sub­mis­sive should I say. As soon as the vet releas­es them, they come back to me, their one-week-old dad.

Then it’s time for farewells that are done with­out a blow. The vet­eri­nar­i­an takes the cage in which I had brought them and dis­ap­pears in the back. He gen­tly trans­fers them to anoth­er cage, asks his help to give them water and food. Every­one pass­es in front of the cage and becomes gagaizing.

The vet comes back, gives me the cage back. We talk a lit­tle bit, I ask the prices for ster­il­iza­tion because my neigh­bors have the project to bring fat Arthur, one of the kit­tens’ fathers, to be cut off from their desires. Arthur spent the win­ter in a heat­ed cat cage near my neigh­bors’ door, who fed him that way through­out the cold sea­son. In the spring, Arthur is always there, let­ting him­self be flat­tered, watch­ing over his ter­ri­to­ry, not allowed to enter. There are still three cats in there. He has already entered two or three times by uri­nat­ing on the walls to leave his mark. A cat still stinks…

The vet­eri­nar­i­an explained to me that yes­ter­day morn­ing, at the hos­pi­tal door, there was a box with four kit­tens in it. Peo­ple don’t have brains. They mar­vel and con­sole them­selves with their cats, let them mate because kit­tens are so cute. Then, we com­plain that there is feline over­pop­u­la­tion every­where in the big cities. Most will end up euthanized.

Papageno, Papa­ge­na, and Mozart, I hope, will not suf­fer the same fate.

- With the face they have, they won’t be alone for long, the vet­eri­nar­i­an reas­sures me.

I would like to be con­vinced of that.

Please have your ani­mals cas­trat­ed. You have a beau­ti­ful part of exis­tence with them. They fol­low their instincts, but in real life, they prob­a­bly would­n’t be there. Your lux­u­ri­ous plea­sure comes with responsibility.

Thank you to the RSA for its wor

k, as well as to all the shel­ters of this kind.
If we have to take life as it comes while reflect­ing on what it will hap­pen and what it brings to me, on what it has giv­en me, on who I have been since the begin­ning of my time, if we have to con­stant­ly think about this and at the same time give time time time to be time, I want­ed to tell the sto­ry of these kit­tens, what they have been for me and what they will no longer be, what they will be too.

Good­bye, my lit­tle tran­sient loves.