It was late on a Saturday night in the middle of November -- November 12, unless I've forgotten how to correctly read a calendar... Which is a distinct possibility -- where I was just starting up a new character in World of Warcraft after my friends had very nearly taken care of all of the work in playing the game (gave me CDs, someone else's paid account, and were damn near willing to install it for me as well). I was watching the lengthy install process when one of my housemates came into my room and said "Hey, Trent." Now, this particular housemate and I haven't been on good terms since he took a turn to the "douche bag" route of life so I didn't even really feel the need to turn around from my monitor and look back at him standing in my doorway. Eventually, though, his unspeaking presence was enough to make me look back once to see if he was still there, and when this happened, I saw an orange and white ball of fuzz peering at me from the upper, unzipped portion of his jacket.
Quick interlude: if you know me, then you know I love cats. That's really all there is to it. You don't even really need to me all that well to come to some kind of understanding of this fact. I mean, I don't make it a habit to wear cat ears to my classes, or wear shirts with kittens on them, but eventually you just know, instinctively, that I like cats. I like almost all animals, to be honest, but cats have a special place near my heart that no other animal can take away.
Upon seeing the fluffy little ball of cuteness, I emitted some kind of unspeakable high-pitched "zee-oh-em-gee" squeal which, thankfully, has never emerged from my vocal chords since, but I did then. I got up out of my chair and jumped over to the spot where the guy was standing and I caressed the fur on this unspeakably small bundle of cute. One I awoke from my shellshock, I asked the question: "Who's is this?" My best buddy in the whole wide world gave the answer "Oh, I thought you could have him," which point I think I hugged him -- something which happens about as often as the zomg-squeal. I ran upstairs to one of my friend's rooms and we played with the really tiny kitten, who everyone save me said was a "girl," and took a few of these here pixel-collections:
After about ten minutes, little Orange Cat (which was the name at the time) needed to rest:
That night was a very, very long night for me, to say the least. My new best-friend-forever-and-ever brought home food, but other than that we were completely unequipped to keep a kitten in the house. I took Orange Cat down to my room and did my best to kitten-proof the entire thing (which wasn't too hard), but I still had to try and figure out how to jury-rig a litter box together for the little kitty. After about forty minutes of searching, I found a cardboard box that was roughly large enough for a potty sandbox, but I still had the problem of trying to find something along the lines of litter. At this point, it was roughly 3:00am in the morning, so any stores were out of the question, so I walked outside and just looked around: jackpot. I brought the homemade litter box outside and grabbed a bunch of dirt, doing my best to remove any non-dirt objects, form a big pile recently dug up for reconstruction of a sidewalk near my house, and threw it all in the box. I brought it back in and placed little Orange Cat in the dirt-filled mess of a litter box. He went, I rejoiced.
Next on my list was trying to figure out how to deal with the little guy for the night. My instinct was to just keep him confined in a fairly sizeable box just for the night, but this quickly shown to be the wrong move. I eventually completely cleaned up my room, removed anything that could be considered harmful for a six-week-old kitten, and took him out of the box and gave him free roam of the room for the night. By the time I finally was ready to go to sleep, it was about 7:00am, I was exhausted, and so was kitty. He slept near my head all night... All three hours of it.
Eventually the guy who had given me the kitten to begin with came in my room and, just to make sure, I asked if he was positive that he didn't want to take care of the cat himself. His response was that he "didn't have enough time or money" to take care of a cat, much less was his room/lifestyle suited to one in the first place. With these statements in mind, I don't think it's all that difficult for you to imagine my surprise when he came into my room later that same day with this:
Having two absolutely adorable little kittens was pretty much cute overload for me (and every other self-respecting male in the house) -- it just doesn't get much better. And it didn't. My friend realized that his room wasn't ready for a kitten yet, not to mention that my room was fully outfitted with kitten food and, now, litter. So I had both kittens in my room all night. And if that first nearly-sleepless night wasn't bad enough, try imagining a similar situation except this time with two dominance-asserting kittens fighting it out all night -- the first silence I got was when, after two straight hours of meowing, hissing, and clawing at each other, the two finally slept at opposite ends of the bed. I was awoken by the next round in this epic struggle at 8am the next morning (roughly two hours after I had gotten to sleep). Yeah, that wasn't going to fly, a thought I relayed to my friend who was already beginning to show the trademark irresponsibility and thoughtlessness that he was known for.
Living with the single kitten in my room most of the time was not a single problem though. I took him to the vet later that week, forgoing giving Orange Cat a name due to the fact that I was afraid for the physical health of the cat (I had no idea what kind of things kittens could have, nor what kind of idea what kind of home he was raised in). Of course, we had tentatively decided on "River" as the name for what was, at the time, a girl kitten by popular belief. The vet trip was both expensive and informative though, as we found out that Orange Cat was actually a dude. He did receive a clean bill of health, however, and that was just all sorts of awesome. We jumped back and forth between names for the cat, and eventually "decided" on "Ender," which was later changed to my preferred name of "Hobbes" (even if it is a far more common name). For those individuals curious as to how much money you're talking for a kitten, the food and litter are fairly trivial, but the vet bills are what really cost. For me, it was roughly $130 for the first visit, then $85 for a second visit, and then $200 for the final visit (front declawing and neutering) -- so roughly $400 in vet bills. That said, after the first couple of months the vet trips will really cut down to once per year after that. I was also very lucky, personally, because little Hobbes has never really had it in him to "destroy" anything I own -- something I attribute to getting him at a young age and, for the most part, spoiling the little bugger.
And while Hobbes is a fairly harmless cat, my friend didn't get so lucky with Grey Cat. Everyone in the house had their reservations about this guy taking care of the cat, which I relayed most of to the guy himself, and in the end all the reservations were very much justified. The guy did the bare minimum to take care of the cat, never took her to a vet in the two months that had her, and over Christmas break we believe that the cat was stuck in the bathroom with "ample" food/litter to tide her over for however long she was there -- which I don't honestly know. What I do know is that the cat went to town on the entire bathroom; there was thrown-up something, the shower curtain had been cut into fine, clear strands of curtain, and there was litter and food strewn all around the bathroom. At this point, the guy was told by some others to take the cat to the Humane Society. I don't know what ever became of little Grey Cat, but I do know that pretty much any other place besides in my "friend's" room was pretty much an improvement. I wasn't present for the forced ousting of the kitten (or any of the other events which closely lead up to it), but after weeks upon weeks of badgering my friend to do something, I can only think that I should've done something about it sooner.
On a far more uplifting note, Hobbes is doing absolutely fantastically in the house. He's roughly five months old now and has had every kind of kitten booster shot and medicine that a kitten should have and... Well, he's really only gotten more spunk as time goes on. The little guy has one of the coolest, most unique personalities I've ever seen in an animal. He gets free roam of the first floor of the house whenever I'm around (which is fairly often), but at night he stays in my room with me and I wake up every now and then with him sleeping right near my head, and it's just a really cool feeling. It's also a cool feeling when he wants me to wake up (which he does by licking my face) to pet and love him, but not exactly the most welcome one.
And here are some random pictures of little Hobbes that have been taken over time. The first row would be in the weeks immediately after I got him, the second would be in late December, early January, and the final row are the most recent shots which were taken mere days ago.