A day with a kitten
I often see bumper stickers on cars that read, “The more people I meet the more I like my cat.” Sometimes it says dog, or whatever animal the person happens to prefer. I happen to love all animals, but the one pet that is suitable to my lifestyle is a cat.
Cats are independent, prefer not to interact with humans, don’t have to be walked, and aren’t that demanding. I thought this was the case with all cats, until I met my cat, Princess. Princess has unique qualities that make her more like a dog than a cat. She’s always looking for attention and her behavior at times can be challenging. If I’m on the phone, she’ll swat at me until I pay attention to her. When I’m sleeping and she feels it’s time for me to wake up, she’ll continue to pounce on me until I get out of bed. When Princess is hungry, and always seems to be, she won’t stop meowing until there is something in her bowl. She is also quite demanding when I’m watching television and insists that this is her time to be brushed. I am also not allowed to stop brushing until she decides it’s time. I didn’t give her the name Princess, that was the name given to her by the shelter, but it’s so fitting. I tried to change it after I adopted her but she would have no part of it. It’s funny because Princess started out as such a sweet little kitten. No trouble really, just a little black and white fur ball running around the house content in her new surroundings. I remember the day I drove out east to adopt her.
It was the summer of 2004 and I was volunteering for a shelter on the East End. One day I was asked to take a dog to a pet store in Riverhead, and stand outside in the hopes of finding him a home. That’s when my adventure with my new kitten began. I went inside the pet store and saw kittens up for adoption. They were all very cute, but I filled out an application for the one I wanted. They said they would call after reviewing my application. When I received the call, they informed me I was chosen to adopt the kitten but I would have to drive out to Cutchogue to pick her up. I was given strict instructions about a carry case and other items I would need in order to be able to leave with her. The only problem was my friend and I had planned on spending a day at the wineries. We had our day all mapped out and had included other people in our plans who were coming out to meet us. I was concerned that if I didn’t pick up the kitten as scheduled the shelter would call the next person on the list, so my friend and I proceeded to drive out to Cutchogue.
We did not dare tell the people who had the kitten that we planned on taking a journey along the wine trails of Long Island for the day. Once we arrived at the house it was clear to us that these people were not messing around. The house was huge and inside there were too many kittens to count. There were dedicated places for them to play and in spite of the number of kittens, it was immaculate. I sat down to be interviewed further by the couple and after I was approved, I promised to take the kitten home as soon as we left. I packed her up in her little carry case and we were on our way. I was so excited about my new kitten but also torn because of our plans for the day. It wasn’t just about me, I had other people to consider. However, I figured I really should take her home since she is so young and most likely scared out of her mind in a carry case. I also know you’re supposed to slowly acclimate animals to their new environment, and too many people around could make a young animal nervous. My friend and I discussed this as we were heading west to go back home, and after much deliberation we figured going to just one winery wouldn’t do any harm. The kitten was so young it would probably sleep most of the day anyway.
That one winery led to the next and after seeing that the kitten was sleeping peacefully we called our friends and decided to follow our original plans. At each winery we took the kitten out to make sure she was okay and that attracted many curious people who just had to come over to see what we had in the bag. Some of the wineries were more accommodating than others. At one winery we couldn’t have her out of the bag because they served food. I guess I understood this, except it was small nine week old kitten. I wasn’t putting her on the tasting table, but the wineries do get extremely busy and they all have their rules. So I gave the kitten some water and put her back in the carry bag.
Once we met up with our friends it was time to get dinner, and one of them had already made reservations at the Elbow Room in Jamesport for us. The Elbow Room is a great restaurant, but true to its name it’s small, and often very crowded. I didn’t have time to drop the kitten off at my apartment so I decided to just keep her in the carry case and take her into the restaurant. It was a soft case with mesh on the side that could pass for a ladies’ bag and the kitten was so small no one would see her. Once we were seated I put the bag under the table as far as I could so it would not be seen. The waitress came over to take our order and I was relieved that my secret wasn’t discovered. Then it happened. It started out soft at first and then got louder. It was the kitten! Everyone in my group began to panic as her meow became louder and louder. Of course, it was just my luck that on this particular day the restaurant wasn’t crowded, and it was unusually quiet. The only thing I could do was take the kitten out of the bag. One she was out, she stopped meowing and happily curled up on my lap. Unfortunately, everyone dining around us discovered our secret. I wasn’t sure how they were going to react and was almost too afraid to make eye contact. Then I looked up and everyone had smiles on their faces. They began telling us how cute the kitten was and asking where we got her. With all of the diners focused on my table, the waitress came over to see what all the commotion was about. We told her our story and how we never planned on taking a kitten to the wineries or to a restaurant. She was very understanding and told us we didn’t have to leave, and if the kitten needed to stay on my lap she could.
It’s funny how something like a little kitten can bring out the best in people and bring them all together. Everyone we met that day was so friendly and happy when we showed them the kitten, and I think for the most part it helped to make their day. Now that Princess is a full grown cat I look at her and think, maybe the reason she’s so well adjusted and friendly is because of all the people she met that day. Maybe more people went home happier after their encounter with her and more thoughtful about all of the animals in need of a home, and will perhaps consider adopting an animal. Maybe, just maybe, my little kitten helped someone get though a tough day, or helped them to just slow down and enjoy their life. Or maybe reconsider what they’re doing with their life. I don’t know. But what I do know is, we all need to take more time to be nicer to one another, to smile more, and stop taking life so seriously. Maybe we all need to just go and spend a day with a kitten.