Friday, 3 October 2014

The Joyful Beginning of a New Beginning

Plenty can happen over the space of twenty four hours, yet it nonetheless amazes me that, compared to my previously easy-going life, all that I've known has been thrown into the air, influenced by such a massive change that there is no going back. And by which, I cannot go back on the decision to introduce two seven week old kittens in my world who are not only getting used to life without their mother, but realizing that their new lives involve my other two cats. Despite this fact, I can assure you that this entry will not be dedicated to one of my most-loved past times, moaning.

However far you may be from where I live in a dead quiet village in the middle of a country renowned for its fat-laden Cornish pasties, frightfully 'posh' accents (only if you're among the headline-grabbing socialite crowd, mind you) and weekends solely about The X Factor, your heart will melt into a warm mess as I tell of the events that have just taken place, and will certainly not be forgotten in a hurry!

For weeks, I'd been visiting my two beautiful kittens - a girl whom we had called Teddie (because her long, silky-soft tabby fur truly resembled the coat of a bear) and a boy with fur as dark as a bar of Bournville chocolate who shares his name with the Royal Baby - every Saturday while they were being cared for by their foster mum, who took them, their two siblings and mother in shortly after being discovered outside a supermarket in the city.

Their tough start in life could let alone be the cause of a rampaging war between book publishers and film studios because it featured all the key elements in a heart-warming story: a struggle, a dose of tear-streaming sadness and bundles upon bundles of cuteness. Even I would definitely picked up the book, though I'm now the one contributing to their on-going story - and happy ending!

Before deciding to welcome more felines into our lives, my family had previously adopted two cats, Bart and Benny, the year before, and only celebrated their first birthday a month ago. Although we love both of them dearly - and, to an extent, revolve our lives around them (I'm pretty sure that the weekly budget on cat food is much higher than the spending limit on my Christmas list!) - there was an urge to offer a home to another cat, after having a somewhat rude awakening whilst adopting our own shortly before last Christmas, who had been rescued by an animal charity.

From an early age, I've regarded the family pet - who has undoubtedly been of the feline kind - as a sibling because they mimic the behaviour of a human and, at times, behave even better than my goodie-two-shoes self! Expanding our family was a dream come true because, despite already being surrounded by plenty of people (both in the forms of a wannabe Chelsea striker and a bundle of snuggle-your-face-in fur), I craved more company. Well, if it doesn't answer back to you and is unable to leave suspicious messes in your en-suite, of course I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to bring more cats into my life!

This summer marked the beginning of my adopt-a-kitten journey, which originally commenced with a golden tabby kitten, who was known as the first Teddie. After contacting various animal centres, we had picked the ideal kitten for us who was a) tabby (despite loving all fur colours, tabby is the ultimate favourite), b) an absolute cutie and c) apparently in good health. In fact, I visited this kitten while on a day off school (which fortunately coincided with Sports Day - how relieved I was to avoid it!) due to illness, and fell in love within moments of meeting her. At the time, she ticked all the boxes and lived up to my fantasies, yet fate had other ideas; it simply wasn't meant to be.

At around the age of five weeks, this kitten was becoming increasingly weaker, having just been diagnosed with a heart defect. She was neither gaining weight nor recovering from her illness which, as we would soon find out, was a condition that she was sadly born with. On a Saturday morning, her battle - which didn't involve a future bright with victory - ended, thus our search for a kitten recommenced. And, though a bit of my heart was broken, I vowed to remain strong, for which I was rewarded almost as soon as I started to look for that dream member of my family.

In the summer holidays, I came across another female kitten who, despite possessing those distinctive tabby markings, was darker, yet had a much bubblier personality than the previous one. Later known as Teddie, she was healthy, kind-natured and - without a doubt - an absolute cutie. As soon as I caught a glimpse of her, I was certain that this was a love story that wouldn't end in tears: only joy could be the end result.

Our original intention was to adopt one kitten as a birthday for my mum, who literally trademarked the idea. Teddie was the perfect candidate to fit this très important role, and all of us had fallen head over heels (especially myself as the heel-wearing one), yet we were increasingly drawn towards her brother, otherwise known as George. While her two female siblings had been reserved, George had not yet found a home, which may or may not have been down to his seemingly black fur - which I'm absolutely determined to declare is not the case. In fact, Teddie was closer to George than to her fellow siblings and even once played with him during one of our weekend visits; it was obvious that she had such a brilliant bond with him.

As the deadline to bringing her home got nearer and nearer, we made yet another one of our absolutely-important decisions, which now had an impact on little George's fate: we would adopt him. Having always adopted cats in pairs, we couldn't bear the thought of leaving him behind as his sister lived it up with Bart and Benny who, compared to her slight stature, looked as intimidating as an 8ft tall basketball player. And, during that short time we shared with him, we loved George's personality. Fearless, playful and wild, George was the yin to Teddie's shy, reserved and calm yang. How could we dare to tear them apart?

Fast forward several weeks, here I am resting on my bed (as I slowly recover from a cold/sore throat, courtesy of three weeks attendance at a germ-infested school) as Bart sleeps by my feet, constantly aware of the kittens' presence in the kitchen downstairs. Yesterday morning, my mum, dad and I picked up the two babies before bringing them home - and literally turned Bart and Benny's world upside down! The older two sniffed the kittens' basket for a second before racing faster than a cheetah up the stairs, and haven't dared to sneak downstairs since then.

Of course, introducing a new feline into a cat's life is hardly the easiest of all jobs, yet I'm hoping that Bart and particularly Benny - the most protective of the pair - will accept this change within time. If they can cope with moving over hundred miles away shortly after being rehomed, surely letting two precious kittens into their hearts won't be a major struggle?

On the other hand, Teddie and George have adapted better to their new lives than I could have ever expected; George only ever cries if he can no longer ignore his constant hunger pangs! However, it didn't surprise me at all that Teddie's emotions were a mixture of excitement, pining for her mother and exhaustion. Curious when exploring her new surroundings, Teddie would sometimes fall asleep whilst walking around, which was hilarious to see! She did get a bit upset around bedtime, though, and cried for a while, sounds of which were quite saddening. I wanted to make those first moments in her new home as comfortable as possible, yet I couldn't wipe away her symptoms of homesickness - she had to experience those emotions before moving on.

Therefore, I was astonished when I woke up this morning (ten minutes after my Physics class would have begun) and witnessed Teddie whizzing around the kitchen. chasing after a toy mouse - miles away from her emotional self the night before! She has carried on settling in today, and looks much more relaxed; I think that she coped with the change by sleeping it off, which she do so for the entire afternoon yesterday!

Now the main focus is being placed upon Bart and Benny, who have yet to cope to terms with the fact that there are two kittens in the house and they will be accepted as members of the family at one point or another. It doesn't feel like I only brought home Teddie and George a day ago, but I'm hoping that some progress with the older two - whom I love to bits - will be made by the end of the weekend.

In the meantime, I shall cherish each moment of this joyful beginning which, after having started afresh when Bart and Benny were adopted last Christmas, is somewhat a new beginning!

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