Our Christmas Sweetheart

Five cats. That’s how many cats we had when we moved to Paranaque. That was in October 2011. From our home in Pasig, we brought over Botchok, Spot, Hedwig, Scabbers and Socks.

The loss of our Siamese, Bunny, had been so traumatic. He passed away in September 2014, on the very same day as my mother-in-law. It was such a tragic day, and it felt like the tears would never end.

Because of that painful loss, I sort of swore that we would take no more new kittens. Some friends offered, especially when they found themselves saddled with yet another unplanned litter. Others suggested we get another Siamese. But I just couldn’t.

In July 2014, Socks passed away. She had a viral infection of some sort, and was confined at Cassandra Care animal clinic for about a week. She got well and was able to come home, but she didn’t survive for much longer after that.

Our male cats were neutered, so there was no chance of our female cats getting pregnant unless they got out of their enclosure. So I was pretty sure we would add no other cats to our little cattery. It would just be Botchok, Spot, Hedwig and Scabbers from then on.

Of course the universe laughed in the face of this thought.

On Christmas Eve of 2014, my brother-in-law Ron arrived with his wife. After greeting us, he said, “Did you see the kitten in the garage?” Oneal and I went to check it out.

True enough, on the cabinet in front of my father-in-law’s car, was a fat little tricolor, meowing loudly. We petted her and played with her, and she started climbing all over me. She had such soft fur, and she was so pretty.

We had to go to my family’s Noche Buena that evening, so we went back inside to get ready. But when we were about to leave, we saw that she was still there in the garage! So we put her in a cage, and put the cage in the lanai, hoping that her mother would come back.

We waited for several days, but her mother never came back for her. So we took her in.

From the moment we brought her in, she was such a sweet and affectionate kitten. Eventually we named her Sweetheart, because every time she snuggled up to me I would say, “Hello there little sweetheart.” She purred as soon as I picked her up. Oneal said she meowed when she saw him, and meowed much louder when she saw me.

We put Sweetheart in the cattery with the other cats, but we kept her in a cage so that they wouldn’t eat her food. We also needed them all to get used to each other. But it didn’t take long for her to blend in. Botchok hissed at her lazily, almost as if she was doing it out of habit. Spot and Scabbers seemed to just accept her existence. The most entertaining thing about Sweetheart joining the family was her friendship with Hedwig.

Hedwig is our biggest cat. He’s fat and round and heavy, and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. When we let him into the room, he lies on the bed and snuggles next to our legs. Sometimes he bites Oneal–not as an attack, but as a form of affection, usually accompanied with some kneading.

When Sweetheart arrived, Hedwig seemed curious. He would paw at her through her cage, and sit on top of or beside it, just watching her. When she was able to roam the cattery on her own, they would run around and play. She would sleep next to him, and he would groom her. Very often they would sit in the window, looking into the bedroom. We called them Baymax and Hairy Baby, after the robot and the cat in Big Hero 6.

Sometimes we would let Sweetheart and Hedwig into the bedroom along with Botchok. Sweetheart and Hedwig would run around and around, under the bed and into the bathroom, across the bed and our legs. Sweetheart would be such a kitten,¬†young and curious and restless. Hedwig would chase her around–for about five minutes! Then he would just lie on the floor and playfully swat her when she passed him.

We decided that Sweetheart was a smart kitten. Early on she figured out that Botchok was the alpha of the group, and she learned to avoid Botchok, or at least give her a wide berth. Botchok usually had the left window sill to herself, while all the other cats took turns or huddled on the right winddow. Sweetheart learned not to jump onto the left window, or else Botchok would swipe at her.

This is an especially useful lesson, since Sweetheart has a habit of climbing to the top of the window. The left window is behind the TV, so when we’re on the bed, Sweetheart can’t see us. She climbs to the top of the window so she can see us. When she gets down, she takes great care to jump to the right window.

Unfortunately, all the other cats have a habit of snuggling together on the right window sill. Sometimes Spot, Scabbers and Hedwig are all huddled there. So Sweetheart has no choice but to jump down to the left window! She tries to land carefully, so she doesn’t bother Botchok, but of course cats don’t always land where they want. When that happens, she gets swiped! It’s just a perfunctory swipe though, nothing really harmful. I think Botchok is too lazy to do much more to assert her power.

Sweetheart is our Christmas kitten, and our baby.

You can imagine she wasn’t happy when the Barden Bellas came along. But that’s another story.

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