Kitties are impossible to resist when you see them in every other viral video doing something hilarious or clever or just plain cute, and my plan to wait until life settled down a bit before adopting another one was as difficult as the intentions were noble.
I’ve had Byron for about a month now, and he’s already been a great companion. He hasn’t warmed up to sleeping with me at night, but he frequently sleeps in my lap, and follows me around the house, even going so far as to lie on the bathmat to watch me whenever I’m making a nice BM. He also rarely stops moving, which makes him especially difficult to photograph. Like Dolly, he can be quite a vocal cat, and will meow repeatedly when he knows he’s about to be fed or if I call his name.
I can tell he’s already grown in the short time I’ve had him. It’s always fun to see how all the parts of kitties develop at different rates; right now he has big ears and a full tail, though his big mitts are more likely due to his breed. His face is also quite mature, though it isn’t particularly striking or unique.
the kitten formerly known as Bart
It was a bit of process before I finally had Byron in my possession. Since I got back from my trip to Europe, I’d check the Humane Society website a few times a day, and when I finally saw a suitable kitten1, I drove down to the shelter, only to find this kitten being adopted right in front of me. Seeing as how I’d made the drive across town, I stayed to look for other candidates. There I found myself in rooms filled with adorable little kitties, some of which jumped in my lap and licked my hand and did other things which generally made them impossible to put down. Unfortunately, none of them were exactly what I wanted, and since this was a decision that would potentially stay with me for the next 20 years, I knew I should try another time for the right one. I’d never felt more like a responsible adult than when I walked out of there empty-handed, after having had my heart set on going home with a new kitty.
Eventually, I saw a mackerel tabby on the website with wild markings and a somewhat stocky frame, so I drove down to the Humane Society right away. There they had him in a cage with another kitten, asleep at first, but soon anxious to be let out when I got his attention. When I took him out, a brief inspection revealed that he had a beautifully lush coat and an alert demeanor, and I could tell he was the right one not long after a bit of playing.
As part of the adoption process, I was asked all sorts of questions. Any cat lover would be able to tell it was actually a screening test, cause some of the questions were traps, like “I am adopting a cat to a) keep my current cat company b) keep me company”. When reviewing my form, the adoption worker said, “You know all the right answers, don’t you?”, and soon I had him in my car, heading home in the summer heat.
a new name
I wanted to name this new kitten after a hero, but Ulysses or Lermontov or Nabokov didn’t feel neutral enough for a cat, likely cause those names have specific connotations for me. I settled on Byron after realizing Lord Byron had influenced some of my favourite writers, and I’ve always loved the idea of the Byron hero (even going so far as to fancy myself one in my foolish youth).
how's everybody feline
My battle with fleas and upper respiratory infections from the last adoption left me paranoid, so I kept Byron in quarantine a full two weeks. Thankfully, Byron hasn’t had any ailments, and he’s already adjusted to the rest of the house. I’m only now realizing how much of a sickly cat Leonard was in comparison.
At first I thought he had asthma cause he would pant within five minutes of playing2, but now I think he just pushes himself when he plays. The fact that he has a hard time keeping track of toys without bells or jangles leads me to believe he doesn’t have very good eyesight, though he has great hearing to make up for this. He follows the bag of treats cause it makes a nice little rattle, but can’t figure out where the actual treat is when it’s in my hand.
there's nothing more dangerous than an intelligent cat
The fact that Byron’s a smart cat means he easily gets into trouble. It’s hard to stop him from going on the forbidden countertops or playing with things that are too valuable to be kitty toys. Luckily, that also means he understands punishment sooner3. He’s also good at learning the paths of where I like to run his toys, and knows how to lead his targets.
Dolly hasn’t been herself since I brought Byron home. She keeps running away whenever I bring her to bed with me, and she doesn’t purr at all, which is particularly out of character for her, as she used to do so when you only gave her a long enough look. She’s started warming up to me again though, and I hope it’ll get better over time.
Leonard was too innocent to understand that Dolly growling meant he should stay away. Byron knows enough to leave her alone, so even though his inclination is to try to sleep with her, he doesn’t try to very often. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to bite in a playful manner, which can really annoy her and quickly escalate into a fight, but it always remains play fighting. At first I kept breaking them up, but realized Dolly hasn’t gotten this much exercise in years.
- He was male, around 3–4 months old, no health issues, with the right face, colours, and pattern. [↩]
- I could rarely get my other cats to pant, and if they did it usually took at least 20 minutes. [↩]
- It took Leonard a good two months before he learned not to eat from Dolly’s dish, but with Byron it only took two days [↩]