After Xavier lost his dog, Grunther, in a tragic way, the boy was devastated. While Grunther lived at my mom's house, we still visited him often and he was a part of the family. It affected us all and left a pall around the house for weeks. The event made J and I think about Xavier, how much he has matured, and how in the next few months his life will alter as he joins the ranks of middle school. A terrifying thought on its own, but even more terrifying as the schools change constantly here, and its hard enough for Xavier to make friends. We thought long and hard and ultimately made the decision that he needed a companion, a constant friend in the midst of future chaos. Dogs are too much work for us as a family of five, so we nixed that off our list, But cats... ahh cats. They are self sufficient, easier to care for, and if you find the right one, quite affectionate. After a lot of discussions and hashing out the details on how we would work this, J and I decided that Xaviers big gift year would be for him to choose a kitten.
Well thoughts are well and good, but when it comes down to the actual event, it became more difficult than I expected. For a month before the holiday I researched constantly at adoption centers, stores, and craigslist, looking for a kitten. You would think they would be everywhere, but no. There were zero kittens in our county. Oh sure, there were 8 month old kittens. There were one year old cats. But no little kittens that could more easily adapt to a crazy household like ours. And I was adamant that we found the right one. I wouldn't settle for less.
Xmas morning came along and still no signs of kittens. Santa left Xavier all of the basics for kitten care with a note that said after that day we parental units would help him search for his new BFF. The look of awe and joy on his face is indescribable. But I worried, knowing there was no BFF out there at the time.
Usually we stay at home Xmas day and the grandparents come down to visit. But this year, my brother Brad was home from deployment, and we trekked up to his house to spend the holiday with family. While there, I mentioned the difficulty in searching for a kitten. Brad mentioned that there was a local website like craigslist, but better, and because of the amount of marines coming and going at all times, there were usually plenty of animals looking for a good home. So we popped online to look, And where in my area of the state there were no kittens to be found, in Brads area there were at least 30 seeking family.
We found a couple of promising kittens, and despite it being a holiday I took a chance and texted two people: one about a black and white tuxedo male, and another that had no photo, but advertised a gray and white female kitten. Within two minutes of texting, my phone rang. It was the owner of the female kitten.
The story goes that his family rescued a cat and then found out she was pregnant. She had five kittens. They kept two, found two others good homes, but had one more who needed a family. He would have kept her himself but they also had kids and a dog and it was too much. At 9.5 weeks, she was already litter trained, sweet as could be, great with kids and dogs, and just what we were looking for from the sound of it. Even though it was a holiday, he was willing for us to meet up as we were close by. So Brad, Xavier, and I popped into the van and headed out.
She was beautiful! Gray mask blending with white, four white socks, and dainty. The man took her out of the carrier to hand to me and she went limp, purring in my arms. The three of us immediately fell in love. And then.... she jumped.
Out of my arms she took off from 0-60 in a nanosecond, racing down a field. Brad, who was just recovering from injuries of his own, took off without a thought, racing after her. The rest of us stood there in utter shock, my heart dropping as I thought there was no way in hell he could catch her she was so damn fast. But luck was on our side as I watched both the kitten and Brad drop out of sight. There was a creek that neither of them noticed. Both fell in. While Brad was able to gain his footing, the kitten stopped dead in the water. He quickly threw his shirt over her and lunged, coming back up with a bedraggled and confused kitten.
After a lot of nervous laughter, and making sure she got into and STAYED into the box we brought, we gave our thanks for the amazing gift and went back to Brads house. The kitten hid for an hour under the couch, but soon enough was stalking around, sniffing things, and eventually allowing us to pet her. By the time we left for home, she was happily snuggled into Xavier's arms, purring away contentedly.
I've been a cat owner for most of my life. I know (and warned Xavier) that it can take days for cats to adjust and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. When J and I moved to Templeton, our two cats hid in the guest bedroom, under the covers for three days before they joined us. So we were in total awe when this tiny kitten sauntered into the house, checked the place out, and made herself cozy on the couch like she lived there her whole life. Not only that, but by morning, she was already playing with Ashe and Soren, hiding under the Xmas tree and pouncing on them as they ran by laughing hysterically. She found her way to the TV and sits there, avidly watching the boys play video games, helping out in her own way by pawing the screen on where to go. And every night, Xavier takes her upstairs to his room when he goes to bed. Each time I have gone in to check on them, he would be passed out with her cuddled right up to him, purring away.
In honor of J's favorite cat commercial, the one that makes him giggle each time it plays, we named her Bax, a shortened version of Baxter. And it fits her purrfectly. She fits us purrfectly and has already become a solid part of our family. We all fawn over her. We laugh as she attacks her scratching post. We smile as we see her perched half way up the tree, watching the boys play. We listen for the jingle of the bell on her collar and look up eagerly as she waltzes into the room. And while we have dinner, she weaves her tiny body around the legs of the chairs, meowing at us, reminding us not to forget her for a moment. Like we could ever do that. Little lady, you have each of us wrapped around your little tail.
Welcome to the family, Bax. We already love you to the moon and back.