A few months ago, shortly after I bought my house, I adopted a kitten from the SPCA. This after countless times I told myself, “no more pets!” We already have a house full of furry characters, but none were “mine,” which I told myself was a good thing especially after one would have an “accident.”
I am nothing if not a sucker for cute, so in September when the SPCA was my companies non-profit choice of the quarter, I checked out their website only to see they had a litter of the most adorable little white kittens. Sure enough, like telling yourself you are on a diet while sitting in front of a box of munchkins, I decided to head to the shelter all the while telling myself it was “just to look.” Sure.
Two days later, little Gracie came home much to the excitement of our two adult daughters and the chagrin of my boyfriend (owner of aforementioned other furry family members).
We kept Gracie upstairs in a spare bedroom for a few days to give the other creatures time to adjust to her scent and the presence of such a small moving object. We have a Newfoundland, a hound/lab cross and a very grumpy old cat. While we didn’t feel that any of them would purposely do her harm Gracie was barely 3lbs when she came home and considering the size of our other animals, we felt it was best to take things slow.
Elli, our Newfoundland, might accidently inhale her. Go ahead and laugh, but this is a dog with the IQ of 2, but who figured out how to watch her father leave for work while stepping on the pedal of the garbage can to get it open and then quickly consume everything within before he could make it back to the house for the keys he left on the table. Her ability to consume large amounts of items without actually inspecting such items eventually resulted in an overnight stint at the local vets and a $1200 vet bill to remove a two inch section of corncob lodged in her intestine. We have hopes that the two weeks wearing the “cone-of-shame” would somehow have taught her a lesson, but we aren’t taking any chances.
Cadi is our hound/lab cross. She is slightly dysfunctional and a bit OCD. She doesn’t like to get wet or dirty and hates being cold. She tiptoes through the field when out for her “daily duty” like she is making her way through a mine field. (Granted she shares the field with Elli, so the description is probably not too far off.) Every toy in the house belongs to her, regardless of what it is or for whom it was originally bought. She has over 30 tennis balls, but will cry and beg if just one of them gets stuck under a piece of furniture. She also has about a dozen nylon bones that she strategically hides between the couch cushions. Our biggest concern with the kitten was that Cadi would mistake her for a squeaky toy and poor Gracie would somehow be stuffed down behind the couch.
Bristol is the cat. We call him Mr. Grumpy Pants. If cats have expressions, Bristol’s is definitely that of a grumpy old man. He will pin his ears and bat at your legs as you walk by for absolutely no reason. He has two demands in life. The first is to be fed on time. The second is to have a clean litter box. And he hates the kitten. Bristol hates cute and the kitten just oozes with cuteness.
It turned out that our little Gracie is deaf. We figured that out once she got big enough to mingle among the other pets. Dinner time is a feeding frenzy in our house, but Gracie never seemed to show up on time. We feed her on the counter away from the other animals as she is a “delicate” eater and the other animals would have chowed down her food faster than she could blink a cute eye. But she never seemed to come when called. So we tried tests like clapping our hands behind her or sneaking up behind and yelling, “Boo!” Nothing.
Then one afternoon we were doing some work in the living room and my boyfriend brought in his air compressor. If you have ever owned one of these things, you know that they are extremely loud. Gracie was sleeping on the back of the couch with Bristol nearby growling, of course. When the compressor switched on, both dogs and Bristol jumped and shot out of the room. Gracie just kept on sleeping. That confirmed it.
For being a deaf cat, Gracie does not miss a beat. She has adapted quite well and is very easy going. The funniest thing is watching Bristol as he growls at her trying to keep her at bay. Gracie is “ninja kitty” and will fly through the air, do a flip, land on top of Bristol, summersault, and land back on her feet again on the other side, all four feet spread, tail up and ready to pounce again. It is poetry in motion. Bristol is not amused.
We use hand signals when we can and Gracie likes to keep us in her line of sight. If she can’t see us, she will sit in the middle of which ever room she happens to be in and meow very loudly until we come running to rescue her. I have to admit that it’s weird that she meows, but she does and quite well, I might add.
Gracie is extremely curious and loves water. We taunt her by turning the faucet on just enough to let it drip and then watch as she tries to catch each drop of water. She ends up getting soaked, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She even likes to sit on the edge of the tub while you take a shower, completely mesmerized by all those tantalizing droplets.
Her other favorite past time is helping my boyfriend do computer work. She may not ever catch a real mouse, but the one on the screen is surely doomed.
While I never imagined that I would be the owner of a deaf kitten, I can’t imagine my life without her now. She loves to be petted and will snuggle up next to me at night and purr quite contently. She’s not fond of being picked up, but she always wants to know where you are and be near you. If it flashes or moves, she wants it and it is amazing how far up a lattice window frame she can climb. She is very athletic.
Sure she knocks things over, gets under foot and antagonizes the other animals. But isn’t that what having a kitten is really all about?