In October 2009, I was mowing the grass in my backyard, when I ran out of grass. That’s when I heard the tiny “mee-yuu.” Several months earlier I’d adopted a kitten from a friend whose cat had a litter of six-week old kittens. Her name was Kallie and when I hear that “mee-yuu,” I thought that Kallie had somehow gotten out of the house. But when I looked at the back deck, I could see Kallie looking out of the sliding glass door. The “mee-yuu” had come from the opposite direction.
Just a few feet in front of me, I found the tiniest kitten I’d ever seen. He was completely orange, fit in the palm of my hand with room left over, and his eyes were barely open. What a good thing I’d run out of gas! I don’t even want to think of what might have happened! I didn’t realize it then, but he was destined to be mine.
A brown, black and orange tabby hung around my house and my neighbors’ and they often fed her. We could never get close to her to catch her and she was too smart for the traps. We’d see her every six months or so with a kitten or two following her around, but then they’d disapppear and we never knew what happened to them. One of the kittens I’d seen the year before had been orange, so I figured our stray was the mother of the tiny baby I held in my hand.
I didn’t need another cat! I already had a grown cat, Cindy, who was around 12, and the kitten Kallie. Two was my limit! So I bundled up the orange baby and took him to the Humane Society. I figured he’d be adopted quickly. But I was wrong. The Humane Society said that he was too tiny to be adopted, that there were no foster parents available to give him the round-the-clock care he’d need, and that there were no lactating mother cats available. But they could put him to sleep for me.
What!?! No! I hadn’t brought him there to be put down. I’m pretty sure they were glad to hear me say that. So they gave me a tiny baby bottle with a tiny nipple and kitten formula to mix up. So, I wound up with three cats. I named my two-week old baby Pumpkin. He was orange and it was October, so, yeah, the name was obvious.
I worked at a bookstore, and my boss let me bring Pumpkin to work every day and keep him in a box in the break room. All my fellow employees wanted to help feed Pumpkin, so they took turns, and that make things much easier. I became Pumpkin’s mom. I taught him how to use the litter box. I weaned him off the bottle and taught him how to eat solid food. Yeah, he’s my baby still.
The biggest problem was that Pumpkin is a name you give to a sweet kitty. Pumpkin wasn’t “sweet.” He wasn’t mean, just all “boy.” He chased Cindy and Kallie. He figured out how to get on top of the refrigerator and leap from it onto my head or shoulders and scare the dickens out of me. He liked to hide in my closet and climb up my hanging clothes to perch on the shelf. He was a little stinker, so mischievous! Always in trouble! One day I came home from work and found my four-month-old kitten tangled up in my mini-blinds, hanging upside down and growling in frustration. I have no idea how long he’d been hanging there. I rescued him and decided he needed a name change.
So Pumpkin became Jack O’Lantern, a good October name. He’s now called Jack, for short. A benefit of his new name is that it’s easier to yell at him when he gets into trouble. Yelling “Pumpkin!” just didn’t sound as serious as yelling “Jack!” Luckily the older he got, the less I had to shout his name. Jack has calmed down a lot now that he’s almost 14. And he’s the sweetest, friendliest cat you’ve ever seen. Is he still mischievous? Oh, yes! Does he still chase Kallie? Definitely! Does he still get on top of my refrigerator? No. Thank goodness for that!
I’m so glad that my lawn mower ran out of gas.