Neither Ma nor I sleep much that night – listening out for any distressed kitten noises makes it jolly hard to drift off to sleepyland. Kitten, however, is absolutely worn out by his evening of excitement (and probably relieved to have finally reached the end of the “being squeezed to death” stage of our meeting). He sleeps like a log. Which is a relief, because Ma and I are not sure we are able to leave him downstairs yowling if he is sad. The Major-General has given us Stern Instruction that, unless we plan to let the cat sleep on the bed (and we are fairly sure Grandpa won’t), we are to harden our hearts and ignore all kitten mewls. We are not stern Major-Generals though, so we are both fairly sure that if we hear kitten mewls, one or both of us will be sleeping on the sofa with Kitten. Well, it’s technically not letting him sleep on a bed…
The next morning, Ma opens the door to see how Kitten is, after his first night away from his mummy. The night before, we made up the litter tray and fed him, but he didn’t want to eat or drink. But by the morning, Kitten is jolly happy about everything. He has eaten all his food and even had a tiny poo in the litter tray (Mum praises him for this as though he is a toddler potty-training, and I tell her she’s weird. Really weird. And to stop drawing attention to it. Poor thing’ll get a complex.)
He galumphes across the room to greet Ma, who of course immediately scoops him up and squeezes him. I am sitting up in bed drinking a cup of tea (I love going to Mum and Dad’s, where you get a cup of tea in bed first thing) and I can hear her chattering all the way up the stairs. “Let’s go and see Loops&Flicks, let’s go and say good morning, and let’s tell her you ate all your food, and had a poo…” The bedroom door opens, and Ma is standing there, kitten in hand, and grinning. “He was pleased to see me!” she announces.
She hands him over to me, and he headbutts the underside of my chin and lets out a loud, rumbling purr. It’s incongruent for the size of his tiny frame, but it makes me giggle. I look up at Mum who is gaping at me. “He nudged you…” she half-whispers. “And he’s purring!”
“It’s OK,” I reassure her. “He can just smell the crazy cat lady on me.” (Life goal: obtain ALL THE KITTIES!)
Polly chooses this moment to slink into the house, all fire and brimstone wrath. She barely pauses to hiss her utter displeasure at us before she marches down the stairs and yowls for Ma to come and feed her. Ma, wisely, goes immediately. I cuddle the kitten a little bit more, and then head downstairs. Polly has been locked in the utility room to eat her breakfast, and so Kitten gets to gambol around exploring all the exciting things he wasn’t allowed to touch yesterday.
Ma and I run through the morning routine, eating breakfast, getting washed and dressed, trowelling on the make-up so our sleepless night is well-hidden…
Whilst we dance around each other, we pass Kitten back and forth like he’s some kind of relay race baton. Polly has escaped her confines, and is on the hunt for a tasty kitty snack. Did I say she was old? Limpy? Ailing? Not this morning. This morning she is a tigress, bloodthirsty and raging, ready to eat anything that gets in her way. It would be jolly poor form to hand a chewed-on kitten over to Gramps later on, so Ma and I operate a kitty protection scheme, keeping Kitten away from Polly.
Kitten and I (and BabyBro, when he turns up later, all heart-eyes for the kitten) play “chase the laser pointer/bit of straw/end of the belt/L&F’s toes” for most of the morning. It turns out that the only thing Kitten likes more than chasing something that ‘wriggles’ for his amusement is chasing my toes and fingers. He has figured out that they are attached to me, it’s just that they obviously look like fat pink sausages….by the time present-giving rolls around, my hands and feet are covered in lots of tiny reddish pinpricks, where Kitten has attempted to chew on me. I mind less than I normally would, because his teeth aren’t sharp yet, and he’s a kitten, not a crocodile.
We have decided on the method of delivery for Kitten…based on a careful calculation of efficiency and cuteness, Ma has decided that we will put Kitten into a gift bag and persuade him to sit still with his head poking out through the handles. (Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of this, because Ma and I died at how cute he looked, and Polly chose that moment that we were both incapacitated to attempt another assault on Kitten.)
We arrive at Grandpa and Grandma’s and all dutifully file into the room, Ma bringing up the rear. We kiss the grandparents, and stand around the edge of the room, whilst Ma grins at her father and says, “Happy Father’s Day.”
She begins to hand over the bag, but Kitten is tired now of being good, and jumps out to land on Grandpa’s lap. A big beaming smile spreads across Grandpa’s face, and he gathers the kitten up. “Hello pussy cat,” he croons, and Kitten mewls back. Ma announces that the kitten is Grandpa’s Father’s Day present – and that Grandpa has to name him. Grandpa laughs, and strokes the fluffball that is padding back and forth across his chest.
There is a moment’s pause and then, “What about Tommy?” Grandpa asks.
We all agree that Tommy is a splendid name for Kitten, and we cannot stop ourselves from being a tiny bit smug when Grandpa and Grandma’s faces light up with pleasure from watching him explore.
By the time we leave, Gramps and Tommy are best buds. Tommy is trotting around after Grandpa, who is taking the long way round and smiling at his new comrade’s rapt attention.
Operation Sneaky Kitty is concluded. A debrief takes place over a small sweet sherry, and we agree we all did marvellously. Well done us. All that remains is to write up the operational report (can now check that one off the list!) and to ensure that Grandpa still looks pleased with his kitten a week later.
Can confirm: Grandpa is jolly pleased with Tommy.
Pictures courtesy of my lovely Ma, who is a much better photographer than I am.