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Melian and Spring

April 12, 2018

A little over a month ago, we adopted a six-month-old kitten from a local shelter. We named her Melian, which is from the Silmarillion (and other books about Tolkien’s mythology). When we found her at the shelter she was extremely sick and scared. She’d lived her whole life with little attention from humans, it seems, and then in the space of a week she was spayed and had to get most of her immunizations. We took her home two days after her spaying, and she stayed under the furniture in Eleanor’s room for a week except for a trip to the vet to treat her vomiting and diarrhea, which turned out to be mostly from nerves (we didn’t improve our relationship or her nerves when we tried to give her medicine).

Once she settled down enough to be introduced to Pippin and Tristan and have the run of the house, she had some litter box issues. This was just as Walker was moving out of our house and into an apartment. When most of the stuff was out of his centrally-located bedroom, we put a box at the door of the room with “cat attract” litter, and she began to use it. Then after a few weeks of getting more comfortable in our household routines, she caught a cold that turned into a respiratory infection and had to endure another trip to the vet, an antibiotic shot, and eye medicine before she could get her final immunization, which she had yesterday.

Now she is seven months old, which is kind of like a ten-year-old in human years. She’s had a rough start, but we’re hoping that with time and patience, we can tame her and get her to trust us. I’ve spent most of a month letting Pippin and Tristan in and out of the house, rather than giving them free access to the cat flap, and we’re all a little irritated by that. The next step will be teaching Melian how to go outside with the other two and stay close to home.

Anyone have tips for doing that? Tristan was easy to lure with treats, and he mostly stayed close to us so we could catch him and pick him up. Pippin learned very young, with a halter. Melian is extremely hard to catch and so far can wiggle out of the halter, although I think the offer of treats might work with her if she’s near enough to hear me say the word and rattle the container.

It seems appropriate, in this spring of broken government and broken promises (like “fiscal responsibility” and a “balanced budget”), to be struggling to earn the trust of a half-wild little creature who is too old to be easily malleable and too young to be trusted on her own. The pleasures of a half-grown kitten (and they are many—as I type, I am taking breaks to run the red laser dot around the living room floor for Melian to spring upon) have been mixed with the uncertainty of letting loose in our house a small carnivore who may not have been well-treated and who we don’t yet know very well. The uncertainty verges on recklessness when we think about letting her loose in our yard. Her beauty may not be enough to defend her against the actions of neighbors like the one who just moved in and put up a yard sign in favor of electing the man who spent five months yelling at me through a bullhorn that I was going to hell for holding a sign supporting affordable health care.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

It is not enough. But it is what we have, and at my house we are trying to savor the small pleasures of kittens, flowers, and absurdities from the occasional maggot-eaten brains we meet along the way.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2018 10:28 am

    What a beautiful cat – and Melian is such a lovely name. It seems that she has landed on her paws coming to live with you. I hope you have many years of fun and affection.

    • April 12, 2018 3:00 pm

      Thank you! Melian is from Tolkien’s elvish language Sindarin, “mel” meaning love and “anna” gift.

  2. April 12, 2018 2:33 pm

    Gorgeous! Sounds like you’ve all had quite a time of it but she’s settled now. My 2 turn 15 this year – old men (but still capable of charging around at 2am unfortunately) 🙂

    • April 12, 2018 3:19 pm

      That’s a great mental image, old men charging around at 2 am. Pippin has been charging around with Melian some while Tristan mostly sprawls and watches. He gets his exercise patrolling our woods.

  3. April 12, 2018 7:11 pm

    Well she’s beautiful. I have not owned a cat in many years, and I was not an expert cat-owner when I did own a cat, so I don’t have advice for keeping her close to home. But I have lots of faith in your wisdom.

    • April 12, 2018 7:40 pm

      So glad you also find her beautiful.
      We have little wisdom when it comes to herding our cats, but lots of practical experience!

  4. April 12, 2018 8:05 pm

    I hope Melian continues to settle in with y’all. About all we can do right now is savor the small things – it’s too depressing to think about the big picture.

  5. April 13, 2018 1:37 pm

    I have had seven cats in my life and they have all been indoor/outdoor cats. So, I would say that in order to stay close to home they have to want to BE home. I wouldn’t let her out until she feels comfortable inside and gets used to the patterns and routines around your house. Once she feels secure inside, then she’ll probably feel secure outside.

    Btw I four out of the seven have been black cats. They were all rescues or showed up at my house or were given to me. I have a particular affection for them 🙂 Melian is beautiful 🙂

    • April 13, 2018 2:40 pm

      That seems like good advice, since it’s been my feeling too, that we need to be sure she has a strong feeling of belonging before we let her explore further. I would also like her to come to my hand when I call her name and stretch it out, but she won’t right now because she is justifiably suspicious I might pick her up and take her to the vet again.
      Black cats can be beautiful (glossy fur, like raven feathers) but they are hard to photograph! I had to find a few photos with her eyes open.

  6. April 13, 2018 4:36 pm

    Melian is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  7. April 13, 2018 5:06 pm

    I found this bit of advice on tumblr: If you’re trying to catch a housecat that’s gotten outside, don’t forget: they’re an ambush predator and you’re a persistence predator. You have several times more endurance than they do – use that to your advantage! Don’t run after them; that’s playing to the cat’s strengths, and vigorous pursuit may cause them to hide. Instead, follow them at a brisk walking pace until they get tired and need to have a lie-down, at which point you can simply pick them up and take them home.

  8. April 14, 2018 4:39 pm

    I don’t have any advice since my cat is completely neurotic and has all sorts of issues herself. She’s 13 and is the trickiest pet I’ve ever known. She loves me and pretty much hates everyone else, and she’s just gotten weirder as she’s gotten older. Your new addition is beautiful and I hope she settles in with everyone soon!

    Also, I love the poem.

    • April 15, 2018 3:15 pm

      Glad you love the poem! I keep thinking of the last line because it’s April and because kitten behavior is so unpredictable. Melian is having more good moments, so we’ll hope that they continue to occur and she keeps getting more comfortable here.

  9. April 16, 2018 2:57 pm

    Beautiful little Melian has found herself a lovely home. Once she understands how much you care for her she will settle in. And what are these things called flowers you and the poem mentions? We had a blizzard over the weekend that came with 16 inches of snow. We are breaking weather records left and right!

    • April 16, 2018 3:56 pm

      16 inches, aaurgh! We have a few jonquils blooming and the forsythia just began to open up this past weekend. We’re getting snow and freezing temps tonight, though, so buds may die.
      Thanks for the encouraging words about Melian.

  10. April 17, 2018 10:59 am

    Sounds like you are super busy with the new kitten, which is good and bad, I’m sure. Sorry to hear about that new neighbor’s ignorance. LOL

    I love this poem you share here. Very appropriate for how we must be — appreciative of the little things we see that are hopeful.

    • April 17, 2018 11:12 am

      I think the last line of the poem says that sometimes we are idiotic, that it’s idiotic to expect the seasonal renewal to fix anything. We have to keep going, putting food on the table and cleaning up our messes, and if we babble along the way and plant flowers which are only pretty and not good to eat, well, that’s just how people sometimes are.

  11. April 26, 2018 2:02 am

    Welcome to Cat Thursday! Sorry I’m so behind in stopping by to comment. (Bad host)

    I love the name you chose! My cat Arya Snow…well, you can pretty much guess…named for Arya Stark and Jon Snow from the Song of Ice and Fire series. I hope dear Melian has started settling in better.

    Spring may be finally here. At least here in Tennessee. =^o^=

    • April 26, 2018 7:34 am

      Thanks for coming by and admiring our cat name. She is doing better, but it’s a slow process getting her to trust us.
      Spring is thinking about it, here in Ohio.

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