Accepting the New Kitten

Mr. Bond has demonstrated a breakthrough in kitten acceptance.

We’ve gotten into the habit of feeding rapacious RJ in the bathroom, so the other two cats can enjoy their canned meals without a kitten head in their bowl. Once they are done, we let RJ out.

The other night Mr. Bond asked us to let RJ out. He stood in the hallway and wailed, and when Dear Husband went to see what was the matter, he twirled in front of the bathroom door. RJ wants to come out.

When we let RJ out, it wasn’t that Mr. Bond made a fuss over him. Mr. Bond went back down the hallway, pretending he was just being observant and helpful, like he always is. Mr. Bond has not outwardly changed His Official Platform, which is that the kitten is a useless pain in the patootie. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

But this is just one of a lot of little things that let us know what is really going on. Mr. Bond has gotten more vocal and insistent when it’s meal time. He makes a big show of watching the Litter Robot when it cycles. He will put his front paws on Dear Husband’s chair when RJ is sleeping there, (since Mr. Bond sleeps on my chair, that's special) to check if RJ is there, and likes to lie on his rug and watch RJ play with toys.

Mr. Bond is fussing over things he knows quite well. He's doing it for RJ's benefit. He wants RJ to learn How Things Are Done. While RJ is enjoying his new Cheese Chase toy, Mr. Bond is right there, lurking around the armchairs, watching.

This is often how it will be when we get a kitten for an older cat. Mr. Bond is ten, and starting to have a "get those kids off my lawn" attitude. Mr. Bond is used to Puffy being, in cat terms, a lump of passivity who can only be relied upon in an emergency, such as changing the location of the litter box or fireworks festivities. At such important times, they will consult. But in Mr. Bond's daily routine, Puffy figures somewhere below the arrival of cars in the back parking lot.

We got a new kitten, in part, so Mr. Bond could have a cat companion. His only cat friend died of pancreatic cancer at age 14. Mr. Bond still misses him; years later I mentioned Bubby's name, and triggered Mr. Bond into searching the apartment for him. So now I don't mention him by name in Mr. Bond's presence, simply saying, "The Fabulous B Cat." Mr. Bond is responding to RJ, but it takes an attuned sensibility to notice it.

But that is Mr. Bond's way. I got him in the first place because he was so cautious and careful about new things. He was one of a litter dumped in a cardboard box at a pet store I used to frequent. The pet store put the kittens in a cage by the cash register in an attempt to get new homes for them. Three cats went quickly. But not this kitten, who was there day after day, squashed into a corner of the cage, eyes wide in fright. "No one can cuddle him," I was told. So, nobody wanted him.

I thought he was only semi-feral, judging by the quick acceptance of his littermates. So I took him out, calmed his struggles, and convinced him, with slow blinks of my eyes, that I was his friend. I triumphantly took him back to the cashier to show how cuddly he could be. But when I tried to transfer him to the teenager's arms, I realized I had tripped him, all right. He was sweet and cuddly. But, as it turned out, only with me. I had touched his Only Cat heart, and so I had to take him home.

Mr. Bond's heart is closely guarded. But I know he will let others in. It took four years for him to relax in Dear Husband's arms. I'm thinking he will accept RJ in considerably less time. RJ is a kitten, blunt to rebuffs. RJ is also a Maine Coon mix, like The Fabulous B Cat, and is a Beta cat, with a deeply loving nature. Just like Mr. Bond.

Recently, Mr. Bond was spotted enjoying the Cat Attack toy, batting at the wand when it jittered over to his side, and letting RJ attack when it wandered over to RJ's side. RJ still gets in trouble, disrupts the happy routine, and demonstrates daily that he Knows Nothing. He's still a pain in the patootie. But maybe, maybe... Mr. Bond is thinking he's not completely useless.
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