In late March, 2004, there was a litter of 4 little kittens born in the bushes behind our shop by the freeway. When they were about a month old we started seeing them on the other side of the fence. They were obviously getting very hungry so our secretary and I started taking food behind the fence and leaving it down for them along with a bowl of water. Of course, they would all scamper up the hill and hide in the bushes whenever we entered the area, but came down to eat the food as soon as we left. Within a few days we coaxed them to come down near the gate for the food so we wouldn't have to climb through the bushes to feed them. A few days later, and with the kittens becoming more comfortable and used to us humans, they were persuaded to come through the chain link fence onto our side where we could feed them at the edge of the parking lot without opening the chained gate.
I guess it took a few weeks, but before long, a couple of the kittens would allow me to touch and pet them at feeding time. The other two would dash back through the fence at any attempt at petting. However, it wasn't long before all four learned to trust me and would allow some petting during feeding, however, one insisted on grumbling about it but was too busy eating the food to run off. As the days went by, I became their primary feeder and human friend. They came to expect a good meal whenever I would arrive at work in the morning or return to the shop in the afternoon. All four would come through the fence to meet me in the parking lot as I drove in, they became a wonderful little welcoming committee for me. Of course I couldn't let them starve on the weekends so I committed myself to making the trip to the shop once a day on weekends for their feeding. They came to accept me as their daddy and I gave them all names.
Three of them were all black like their father who would occasionally appear in the bushes. One was gray, more like their mother, he was given the name "Gray". The one who used to growl when pet at meal time got the name "Grumbles". One was clumsy and was named "Bumbles". The fourth and most friendly one who by now liked to cuddle up against my legs, I named "Cuddles". So now I had Cuddles, Bumbles, Grumbles, and Gray. After a while it became obvious that Grumbles and Grey were males and Cuddles and Bumbles were females. Sadly, around this time, their mother was killed in the street in front of our shop, probably while hunting for food. She was wild and I never got to know her, but had seen her around a couple of times.
It became habit for me to spend a little time playing with them after feeding in the afternoon before heading home. Grumbles and Gray were still a little shy, but “petable”, while Cuddles would enjoy every minute of attention and Bumbles would join in more so than her brothers. It was becoming hard for me to break away and leave them to go home but I was trying not to become too attached to them as I had Penny at home who had a history of not getting along with other animals and I didn't think another pet in the house would work out.
On the last day of June 2004, I was leaving work a little early and spent time playing with the kitties before leaving. By now, they had learned the meaning of "time to go home" and would gather by the fence watching as I got into the car and left. But on this particular day when I said "time to go home", Cuddles hopped up onto my foot and wrapped her paws around my ankle as if trying to hold me back or saying "take me with you".How could I say no? I put her in the car and brought her home not sure how Penny would react. A few days later, one of the guys at the shop took Bumbles home for his girlfriend to adopt. Grumbles and Grey still live behind the shop and I still feed them daily. They have become my little shop buddies and always come out to greet me. They no longer have any problem with being pet and in fact enjoy it now. Even when it's not feeding time, and I show up in the parking lot, they come out just to say "hi", or maybe to ask if it's dinner time yet... I really don't know, but they always make their presence know to me.
As soon as we got home, Penny took a curious interest in Cuddles but was not aggressive toward her, but more motherly with her. I held Cuddles in the kitchen sink and gave her a bath to clean off all the dirt she had been living in, then wrapped her in a towel to dry. Penny seemed most interested in this new critter that had been brought into her home. When Cuddles was dry enough, I set her loose and showed her where the cat box was in the bathroom. At first she thought it was a sandbox to play in but soon learned the real purpose of it, she became house trained the first day and never messed on the floor. She took to Penny and Penny took to her like mother and daughter. Penny had had a litter once before which seems to have given her that "mother instinct". There has never been any conflict between them and they are now like sisters and playmates. I had heard so many stories of cats being territorial and defending their domain from other cats, or taking a year or more to accept another cat in the house, this was my biggest fear. But this was never the case with Penny. She simply had no objections to sharing her home with Cuddles at all, and the two of them are often found sleeping together.
The first couple of nights at home, Cuddles wouldn't leave my side and slept on my bed pillows, Penny rarely sleeps on the bed but prefers the living room on top of her pole or the couch. She has tried sleeping on the bed but just got fed up with being disturbed when I would move in the middle of the night and wake her. That's why I was so surprised to wake one morning to find Cuddles snuggled up on one side of me and Penny on the other almost under my arm. I guess it got too cold in the living room for her. After a month or so, I took Cuddles to the vet for spaying. That was the only time she was out of the house until a few weeks ago when I decided to take her with me to the shop on a weekend to feed her brothers. She objected forcefully to being taken out of the house and tried her best to escape my grip and get back in. When we got back home she was hiding under the car seat and didn't want to come out. She couldn't believe that she was not going to be operated on again.
Cuddles and Penny are almost complete opposites in their character. Penny is very calm and quiet and prefers to keep to herself, while Cuddles is funny, playful, and talkative. Yes, she even sasses me verbally when told to get off the table or while playing. She's just full of energy and does the silliest things. She's a lover and a lap cat and always wants to be close to me. She often jumps onto my shoulders and rubs up against my face. She has all the affectionate attributes that Penny doesn't. Penny is a wonderful and beautiful cat now, but she's not a lover and a lap cat. She does often smooch up against my face though to show her love, just doesn't like to be handled. She's a good friend too in her own way, I love them both.
At the time of writing this story on January 27, 2005, Cuddles is pretty much full grown now. Sometimes I call her "Miss Piggy" because she always wants to eat all the food, even Penny's share. In the kitchen, she's always at my feet begging for bites, whether she likes what I'm fixing or not. I've had to start putting Penny's food on top of the refrigerator because she just stands back and lets Cuddles eat what she wants. Penny has been loosing weight since Cuddles has been around but Cuddles hasn't yet been able to, or tried, to jump up on the sink and onto the refrigerator where Penny can eat in peace. Cuddles is getting a little plump around the middle and now seems to weigh more than Penny. She has become surprisingly well behaved, though still somewhat mischievous, but doesn't cause me any real problems. She's a wonderful pet and seems to love being just that.... a house pet.