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December 2013

Siamese, Squared.

Kitten. It's been a long time since I've uttered that word in my house. It's been even longer since I've uttered the plural. I gave you a tease in my post about the patio. Let me now tell you about my home life these past few months.

All of my cats throughout my life came to me as kittens, but my first experience with two at a time was not planned, having purposely taken a kitten from my aunt's cat's latest litter (Brutus) then having a stray dumpster kitten brought home to me (Barney). Life was rather a circus back in those days. I was eighteen years old, living away from home with a boyfriend, with kittens. Woo-hoo, what fun!

I wish now sometimes I was still eighteen. I could use the energy.

On August 13th, Tuna Tuesday Week Thirteen*, after much searching and several inquiries into adult cats that had either already found homes or were otherwise unavailable or unsuitable, I brought home two flame-point Siamese kittens, procured from a groomer, who'd gotten them from a breeder, and was keeping them in the back room of her shop. Being the last two of the litter, I didn't get the pick. Or did I? Just look at these little faces!

Siamese twins

I named them on the ride home: Doodle and Jitterbug. Male and female, they are night and day, demon and angel (well, usually), and the new critter-witter-loves-of-my-life that Rascalbear has now made room for in my heart. They are nothing like him, but sometimes I see a reflection. They are beautiful and annoying. They are sweet and destructive. They're everything I wasn't sure I was looking for, but they're everything I need. And they're here to stay.

DoodleNot strays or shelter rescues, I felt a twinge of guilt handing over money for them** but that was quickly alleviated by the fact that they soon displayed a host of hidden medical problems that required immediate attention (an issue, I'm sure, that was due to their housing with uninspected/unvaccinated strays). They had feline viral rhinotracheitis as well as conjunctivitis, which has finally taken a hiatus. Diarrhea ping-ponged between them, as well as a serious virus that mimicked panleukopenia, a deadly illness that, without major treatment, nearly always kills afflicted kittens. Calling home from the vet with the news that Doodle might be beyond hope (and Jitterbug almost certainly also infected) was a heart-wrenching endeavor despite the fact that I'd only had them for one week. Fortunately, the test for panleukopenia proved negative, but with high fever and dehydration, he was still plenty sick. With pills in hand, I went home practically screaming with frustration. Why was I being punished for my many months of nursing Rascalbear, losing him, and finally being ready to take on new charges?

JitterbugThen I realized this wasn't my punishment. This was my reward. Who else but me would be prepared to spend the time and dollars doctoring a duo of two-month-old kittens who happened to be in need of far more medical care than expected? I shudder to think where they'd be if someone with less experience or means had taken them, and as stressful as it's been, I'm thankful we've seen it through. I loved my Rascalbear to bits, and nursing him in his final days truly bonded him to me in a way I'd not previously had, and which made his passing something I'll never really get over. With Doodle and Jitterbug, that bonding has taken place at the beginning of their lives, and I see it every day in the way they follow me, talk to me, play with me, and even sleep with me—something Rascalbear rarely did until he got sick.

The kittens are six months old now, growing and healthy, and blooming into their distinct personalities. Doodle has already earned the nickname "Doodlemonster". Smart, stubborn, noisy, and fearless, he's as Siamese as they come. Jitterbug, my little Bugga-Boo, is a little more mellow, but has no problem following her brother into trouble when she chooses to. Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into when, for the umpteenth time, I have to chase them off the kitchen counter while making supper. Then, they do something to make me laugh, and give me cuddles and snoogles, and I know I've done the right thing. I'm a Cat Mama. It's what I do. And now I'm a Cat Mama for two.

*A new tradition begun in honor of Rascalbear. Every Tuesday, on the weekly anniversary of his passing, we remember him by making a supper dish utilizing tuna. The more unusual dishes we've come up with are: tuna burritos, tuna ravioli, and Fishigans. Like Michigans, only with tuna topping. Yum!

**To be fair, it was half of what most breeders were asking, and less than what adoption agencies wanted. Granted the spay/neuter wasn't included like it usually is with adoptions, but those costs were never a consideration in my search.