A year ago February, a neighbor adopted a new kitten somewhere between six and eight-months-old. Green eyes, the size of saucers, in a head not yet large enough to support them. It chased squirrels, birds, imaginary spots on tree trunks and anything else moving or stationary.
When we planted roses in the garden. He dug in the trenches, chased the rocks we threw, climbed our legs and chewed on the new rose buds.
We asked many of our neighbors if they knew who owned him. No one knew.
We dubbed him, The Squirt for his diminutive size.
Two weeks later, Squirt, clad in a broad leather dog collar, launched himself at a squirrel but the massive girth of the collar worked against him and he fell face first.
Two days passed. While weeding in the garden, Squirt dropped his collar on my foot. He nudged me twice then meowed. He pushed the collar off my foot onto the dirt where it rolled to the next rose bush. He nudged it back to me. I threw it across the yard, he raced after the collar springing like a gazelle.
The next day the skies blackened, the winds came rushing southward out of Canada’s Frasier River Valley and snow flurries fell all day long. Squirt arrived at our back door as the sun rose, his breath rising in short burst of steam.
For ten minutes we watched him as he scratched, chewed and rolled.
We decided not to let him into the house.
Squirt watched Richard cut a whole in a box and nestled Wicket’s old blanket inside. Bracing for the frigid air, Richard took the box outside. Placing a heat lamp above the box drew Squirt like a moth to flame.
We imagined Wicket would eat Squirt if he ever entered the house.
Two weeks later, Richard opened the back door and invited Squirt in. Wicket and Squirt sat six inches apart, silently weighing their options. Thus making it easy for me to capture and release him back into the wild, fleas and all.
Squirt became an expert at running between and around legs. He volunteered as a regular guest in our home. I bought flea treatment for all three cats.
The first time we entertained company after his arrival, Squirt ran for the door, throwing himself at it as it closed.
Changing his tactics, he threw himself against the dining room window.
He howled as if demanding, “Let me in, let me in”.
Not knowing the level of his company manners, he stayed outside.
How would it look with a kitten on the buffet helping himself?
Squirt spent every day racing through our yard chasing the massive squirrel population.
A gray squirrel strafed my leg. Squirt sprinted after the squirrel. They raced over the deck, around the rose arbor, under the barbecue and over a log.
The squirrel stopped dead in the middle of the yard facing his attacker. Inches from his prey, Squirt raised onto his hind legs, poised both front paws to strike then froze as the squirrel matched him move for move.
Stricken, the kitten turned and raced back toward me. The squirrel chattering in triumph.
I turned to Richard, “Chalk one up for the squirrel.”
A few days later, Squirt disappeared. We never saw him again.