i suspect no one will be surprised that we ended up keeping one of our foster kittens – perhaps only that we were able to hold out until the second batchthe first litter will always hold a special place in memory, and we love that we can visit one of them at bumbly’s house, but when this little girl came along, we were goners.

already, on the way home from the SPCA as a foster, she distinguished herself, albeit by getting one claw stuck in a litter-mate’s head.  she was the most active, the most coordinated, and consistently the most affectionate, being willing to be picked up and held, purring, for nearly an hour at a time.  it got to the point where, when visiting the kittens, i would have to make a conscious effort not to pick her up first, because the others would get bored and go back to sleep waiting for their turns.

when she got cat flu a few weeks into her stay with us, she was the most pathetic thing ever.  not visibly affected in terms of energy or health, but more congested than i have ever heard an animal, she wheezed and snorkeled like – and i’m sorry for the mental image – a sucking chest wound.  it was awful.  on the worst day we called the SPCA to find out what to do, couldn’t get ahold of them, and rushed her to the local vet.  the upshot was that, apart from the breathing difficulties, she actually seemed to be fine, and as long as she was eating, we should just monitor her and keep up the antibiotics.  we steam-tented her several times a day – she always came out damp and panting, but breathing more easily, managing to raise a piteous string of meow-oooos by the end of each session, and as i would towel her off and hear the big purr come back (between gurgling snorts), i knew it would be very, very difficult to give her back.

luckily for me (and her, i like to think), the kittens’ return date was three days before valentine’s day. the SPCA wanted them at that time because they had a big adoption initiative on.  so not only would they most likely be adopted within 48 hours… i also had good cause for campaigning to keep the one we were calling ‘diva,’ because although she would surely be snapped up instantly once returned, i assured the pebbles that she would also be at the top of my valentine’s wish list.

so here we are, two months later, with the most beautiful adolescent ‘torbie’ cat i’ve ever seen.  her coat is a tapestry of interesting markings, from her orange back knees, ear-spots and eyelashes on one eye, to the leopard-spots bordering her white belly, the symmetrically striped front legs that she likes to keep daintily crossed, and the white tip on her tail.  although still a kitten in my mind, she is already more than full lap-length when stretched out, and nearly as tall as our larger, senior cat when she arches her back upward.  the big purrs and joyful morning smooches continue, but her behavioral repertoire has expanded to include an adorable staccato meow-growl hybrid when stalking bugs, a fascination with leftover shower-water and the faucet in the bathroom sink, and a frenzied delight in plastic bags, mouse toys, string, flax leaves, ping pong balls and cardboard boxes.  she will happily sleep on laps, recumbent chests, and in the circle of protective arms, even in the car.

after much discussion, we settled on the name ‘tanuki,’ for the mischievous shape-shifter of japanese folklore and for our favorite japanese restaurant in auckland, tanuki’s cave.  and although this statement is probably moot, given the rapturous post above – we are smitten.  :)

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