first night with Smokey Jo

I've got a week and a half to tame, or at least begin to socialize, a feral kitten of unknown age and unknown gender. This has become a fantastically larger undertaking than I had anticipated. (Although I would like to insert here that I did not know I was going to be acquiring a feral kitten, but sometimes these things just happen.) After a week and a half I get on a plane to Chile and the kitten is either an acclimated pet, or it goes back to the farmer and gets shot in the head. So, pressure's on.

It spent most of its first day shivering under the old dresser. We had cooked thanksgiving that day, a month or so early, since I'll be gone for the real thing, and I've got this thing for Holidays. I can't stand to miss them. Anyway, we had a bunch of people over and spent the evening drinking wine and champagne and eating all the good stuff, including these pecan tarts I made that would just break your heart if you could see them. One of the guests was Cassie, my proclaimed 'soul mate' since 7th grade, and the two of us spent the hours post-meal sitting in the guest room catching up. The kitten was at one point, quite mysteriously, sitting up on the bed when we walked in the room, and stayed remained there with us, at a considerable distance and casting furtive looks the whole time, for an hour or so. Other than that she was hiding under the dresser. Cass and I walked up into the field in cold and the dark, wearing our warmest winter jackets and admired the audacious, steely shine of the Northern stars. And then when everyone was gone, I sat near the kitten and read aloud from the entire Patagonia catalog, and then from The Tracker, and then I just talked with her.

I went to bed at 2am and found a despondent Hometeam waiting in my bed. I woke up at 5 to the little beast crying her head off. Back downstairs I went and read aloud from the Tracker. At first she shut up and listened, but after a few minutes she just cried right along anyway. She is a loud thing. Ear peircing howls. Eventually I gave up and trodded on upstairs again to sleep.

I know she or he or whatever is terrified and homesick and misses her mother and probably is going over and over in her mind that terrible moment where it stepped into the trap. It's hard not to be able to reach out and stroke it, an instinctual urge. It's a cute little thing, I mean for god sake's it a kitten, green saucer eyes and the tiny nose and the whole deal, but right now it's just mean and unholy.

We've named it Smokey Jo.

The power of Christ compels you!!

Boot and Spoon as babies: this is NOT monster kitty

I had a blanket, leather gloves, a cardboard box, a bowl of water and some dry kitten food.

What I really needed was a priest, some holy water, and a suit of armor.

I had just trapped a barn kitten from the farm at the end of the road and brought it home. It left behind three siblings, a mother, a bellowing community of cows and the kind of free to roam around a drink milk from the cow's utter that city cats dream about. It wandered into my trap going after the wet cat food and now I had it, hissing and spitting and clawing in the trap.

I'm not a monster. All these kittens are going to be round up one way or the other and shot in the head by the farmer, or brought to the Humane Society, probably the former. So although this little grey and white tiger striped little thing (boy, girl, whose do say?) doesn't know it yet, putting its little paws into the steel trap was the most fortuitous act of its young life. There has been a cat shaped hole in our life ever since Sport runned off and served herself as an appetizer to a coyote, and this little thing is going to fill that hole.

It was the brightest, bluest fall day in history, the day my mom and I let the little monster lose in the guest room for the first time. It went ballistic, jumping around and slamming head-first into the closed windows, leaping up onto the tall bed in one springy motion, darting around the room like lightning. I caught it wearing leather gloves and tried to hold onto it- the farmer told us the only way to tame it would be to catch it and force it to sit still while you pet it for hours. The farmer is a 63 year old Vermonter with hands like raw-hide and I'm sure he would be able to do this. But not me. The kitten hissed, spit and went for my throat. I threw it away from me, it twisted in the air and landed on the ground, then bolted away.

When we caught it again we held it down onto the bed. My mom's two gloved hands and one of mine held down on the little body with all their might, while I gingerly tried to stroke the back of its head with my other hand. It hissed and struggled. And then it started moaning. That terrible moaning of something that is so terrified it either wants to kill or it wants to be dead. Then it squirmed free and took off, spitting.

We left it alone. This was probably the best idea and we should have done it immediately- the thing has never been touched, picked up, or been inside a house before, and we tried to throw it all at him at once. We were just trying to take the advice of the farmer, but that 4 minutes of handling was probably pretty detrimental.

What the hell?!? When we heard barn cat, we thought 'kitten in a box!' The kind that cuddles up in your hand and sleeps under your chin at night. When we heard 'feral cat' we just thought, so it will be spirited! Alright!

Now we've got a little monster demon crouching under the antique dresser in our living room. So far the soothing tones and the disastrous attempt at petting didn't work. On to plan B I suppose: shaking it bodily while dousing it in holy water and shouting The Power of Christ Compels you!!