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Black and White and Shades of Gray


When we brought the Flying Nuns home on Saturday night, they seemed a bit shy. By Sunday they had loosened up considerably. Four days later, it's now clear that we have a wacky, peep-friendly congregation staging a full-on flying circus in the villa.

Nicki was our first jail-breaker. She's leapt the baby gate twice now when we've opened the door carrying food or heating disks or water. This morning she escaped and ran down the hall and halfway up the stairs (we'd left the stairwell door open to let our staff cats down.) Luckily she was mesmerized by the huge window on the first landing. She stopped and stood up on her back paws to look out, and I snagged her.

Based on past experience, we use a big water bowl in the villa. Kittens can't tip it over, and most are reluctant to step in water that's usually two inches deep. And the crumbs and debris they always introduce settles at the bottom, so we don't have to change the water four times a day.

Now that we've met Nicki, we may need to rethink that strategy, since she treats the water bowl like a wading pool. First she stands outside the bowl, places one leg in, and takes a few paddling strokes. Then she plants both front paws in the middle of the bowl and drinks her fill. When she's done wading and paddling, all three Nuns are usually wet and most of the water in the bowl has been redistributed.

Since Po-Boy arrived, some of the time we spend feeding and stroking him has come at the Nuns' expense. But when we hang out in the villa, the sisters crawl all over us and purr relentlessly. If they're here much longer, they'll rival the Campers as peep-climbers. They're also about the silkiest kittens we've encountered yet.

Up in the playground, Po-Boy spent his second night with us. We both vacillate about how much longer we should give him. On the minus side, he's emaciated and doesn't move around much. When I gave him subcutaneous fluids yesterday, I had to stick him three times before I got the needle in a place where the fluid wouldn't leak right out through his skin.

On the plus side, he's alert and purrs whenever we pet him. He surprised us yesterday by descending twice from the windowshelf to the bed to the floor and delivering well-formed poops in the litterbox. Even more surprising – he jumped from the floor up onto the bed in the middle of the night and landed on my leg – no climbing or clawing required. Then he settled in between us and purred.

Po-Boy spends practically all of his time on the bed or the window-shelf, and he hasn't been eating on his own. I guess he doesn't need to, since we've been hand-feeding him chicken baby-food four times a day. Yesterday he ate 2.5 small jars, which is about 250 calories worth. We heat it up, dip a wooden butter knife into the jar, and let him lap it off the knife. It's as if we're hospice workers serving him ice-cream for the rest of his limited days.

If Po-Boy had lived a long and happy life, we'd be ready to say goodbye to him based on his condition and prognosis. But our guess is that he's led a relatively short life with lots of hardship and little or no love. We're going to stay vigilant for any sign of suffering, but we want to make sure that when it's time to put him down, his last days and memories will be about support and affection rather than depression and fear.

Oh, and while the name Po-Boy will stick for logistical and administrative reasons, I've decided I'm not going to call him that anymore. That name was probably issued as a reflex when he was first brought to the King George shelter. Based on his bearing, color, and frame, he must once have been an impressive, regal-looking cat, and he deserves a name that recalls those days. So I'm going to start calling him Taj.

filed by: TS



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