Posted by: guinness222 | January 19, 2018

Good night, Mr. Hiss,…we loved you!

PART I – Coming home

Here’s a story I shan’t soon forget.

My wife came home from work at her part-time job one evening in the fall of 1999. We were just entering the process of trying to buy a new home, or townhouse, after deciding the lease we had on a townhome in Miramar Beach was just throwing “rental money” down the drain.

We had a line on a builder who was building a new development, and we knew his work, which was top quality, had gone out to see it, and it was in it’s early stages. Having owned our own homes since 1972, when I got out of the U.S. Navy we found it impossible to be “confined” as life’s little treasures and things just keep “accumulating” and all the closets were full. We had to do it. So as we mulled over the options, the costs, the income we’d need to have to support the house, etc. plus just “living”. My wife announced her manager at the store had asked if we would like a couple of kittens, from a new litter of a feral cat who had settled into her fenced in back yard at her house. We figured a great way to christen the new house would be our own “pets”, but felt a cats would be low maintenance, inexpensive costs, and a little fun to boot. Her boss had said it would be about six or eight weeks til the kittens were weaned from the mother and then we could have them, and if we took two of them they could keep each other company and play during thee day while we worked!

Thus began the adventure!

We were watching a new TV series called “La Femme Nikita” on television, and one night soon thereafter we had gone over too “visit” our new pets and first meet them. We found them with the Mother, cowering for their lives under the double bed in thier spare bedroom. All we could see was a “bunch” of round yellow eyes staring out at us. I asked why we couldn’t see anything else, “Because they are totally black and curl up in little balls under the bed and even we have a hard time finding them”, we were told.

My wife was born and brought up in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the Salem witches, and even their high school rings had a gold witch on the stone in the ring. It caught my funny bone that how perfect for a Salem girl, graduated from Salem High School and wore a class ring with a witch on it, to have two black Cats as pets!!

One was a boy cat, and the other a female, so we, and they, each would have company. Since we were watching the “La Femme Nikita” TV. Series we decided it would be cute if we called the Male cat “Michael”, and the Female “Nikita”, after the main characters.

The big day came we went to pick them up and the folks had to lift the entire bed up so we could get them out and in a carrier to take home. Nikita was easy and did not offer much resistance, Michael put up more of a fight but we prevailed…and made it home. It was obvious that he was trying to be a good brother and “protect his little sister”. We had purchased litter boxes for each, and set them down, all fresh and shiny filled with litter, set up a big bowl of water, and a bowl of “kibble” for each of them. So when we got home we just put them down in the dining area, opened the gate on the carrier, ….and they didn’t move, so we just left them and eventually they wandered out to investigate, Nikita first, and Michael later. After a little bit of “acclamation time” we gradually moved toward them, ….and they both ran back in the carrier, Nikita first and Michael second, so he could protect her. So we backed off and waited, and the next time we approached we figured since Nikita was a little calmer we’d approach her first. Funny thing the next time we approached her Michael stood between us and her, and began to make “hisssssssing” noises and was protecting her.

We tried to leave them alone some more and gave them the run of the house. They stayed close to the carrier and “hung out together”. The next morning the food was gone and they were lounging around a little less offended by our presence. But every time we approached, Nikita would cower and Michael would stand defiantly and “Hisssss” until we backed down and left her alone. (For a minute or two it occurred to me perhaps we had a psychotic kitten on our hands, but we kept trying to be friendly to no avail)

As Christmas approached we put up a tree, decorated it and other decor of the season, we tried to keep close, but not intrude on the kittens until they allowed us to get closer. We spent time just talking in low comfortable tones to them, as well as amongst ourselves. We tried to freshen up their carrier which had become “home” for them, it was small, dark inside, and no one bothered them in there. We figured they would acclimate and eventually get curious as to who the “strange folks in the area” were, and investigate.

A week or so later, Barbara was working one evening and I was sitting on the couch watching TV, at the other end of the couch was the Christmas tree The kittens seemed to be in their carrier napping and being kittens. It was a quiet evening, I forget what I was doing, other than just sitting there thinking, when I had that Errie feeling of someone watching me! As I looked over toward the Christmas Tree I noticed four little yellow/green eyes staring at me out of the Christmas tree! They had climbed up the tree close to the center and were just perched in the middle staring at me. They didn’t move, and neither did I. After a bit I lowered the TV volume and started trying to talk to them, gently and quietly, an eventually tried to move closer. Every time I ventured closed “Michael” would hisssss furiously sort of a “one more inch and I’m gonna rip your face apart” type hisss, and I’d just backed down a bit and relaxed. That worked, but EVERY time I altered movement or shifted on the couch,…..”Hisssssssss” started again. (Dumb adult,… I logically “YUH?”, thought, ‘maybe he doesn’t like his name, because we had been trying to use their names to relax them and hope they learned them well enough to show a reaction when we used their name, the first step in obedience training!. However I forgot the basic rule of cat ownership, “you don’t train them, , they “humor”you at their pleasure”. But it didn’t seem to happen and the hissing continued. Both Barbara and I were concerned that this little black kitten called “Michael” was going to hurt his vocal cords, or whatever equivalent cats have, so we just moved to a “mutual non-aggression pact” with them and we all seemed to get along ok for a month or so.

But since our offer for the townhome had been accepted and moving would be coming in 60 to 90 days, ) both Barbara and I felt we needed to expedite the process to make things better for all of us,….but HOW?

Section II – Tough love for Kitty Cats or “How Michael became “Mr. Hiss” , next in installment #2.

January 19, 2018

-30- for this installment


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