Kaila arrives


Her comparatively small size in no way impedes her imperial demands. When she thunders across the kitchen from one window to the other, you’d think we had a herd of horses in the house, instead of one fierce tabby cat.

It’s been only 8 months since Kaila has joined our household, and we’re amazed at how much things have changed. Nick and I have never laughed so much. We’ve learned to play stair games. We’ve increased our tolerance for toppled plant pots. And we’ve accepted instruction as to how much petting is too much. Amazing how much one can learn from a sternly-administered warning nip.

I’ve almost always had cats for companions. But after partnering with Nick, I’d become unwilling to invest emotionally in another pet. My new relationship, my music, my writing and crafts, and my job used up all the energy I could spare. Nick hadn’t had a pet since he was a boy, so we neither of us missed the cat hair, the litter box or the vet bills.

Somewhere along the line, though, things changed. We discussed the possibility every few years and argued ourselves out of it. Until last fall, when we visited the local SPCA and fell in love. A slender young mother, big-eyed in a foxy face, had sheltered her kittens in a boat during a cold winter, before being rescued. She’d looked at us, exhausted. Her own children successfully adopted, she had also nursed a foster litter of abandoned kittens. Nick got down on the floor beside her to touch her fur with a gentle finger. She extended a tentative paw through the cage bars to play, and we all connected.

And now we can’t remember what life was like before Kaila.

The unexpected thing is, Kaila’s presence reveals things to each of us about the other. I see a Nick I didn’t realize existed. Who knew that my thoughtful, often intellectual husband would try enticing her to sleep, because he’d researched feline health online and discovered cats need 16 hours of rest? Who would have guessed my quiet, reserved partner would talk, meow and sing with her so much? He tells me that I can get her chasing and pouncing and jumping in a way that he can’t. I assumed that everyone knows how to play with a cat. But no! When Nick holds the stick with the dangling furball on the end, Kaila stares at it for a moment, then at him, then sinks down to the floor, suddenly completely engrossed in removing a speck from her shoulder. I try explaining how twitch the stick and make the toy move furtively, but he’s bored and the cat’s bored until I pick up the stick, dance it past her nose, and we’re all laughing again.

Welcoming Kaila to our household was such a good idea. It’s been magical.