by Teri Northup
(Midland, MI, USA)
Lil' Handsome Prince eating
Merlin at the Humane Society
Merlin just before he passed
In July, 2014, I adopted a beautiful black and white kitten from the Humane Society. He had been born on May 9, 2014. He had a brother and a sister.
It took a couple of days to encourage this little boy, who I named Merlin, to come out and play with me. The more I looked at him I saw longer hairs around his ears, white hairs coming out of his ears, and little white tuffs between his big toes.
After a couple of weeks, I went back to adopt his sister and found that she had been adopted out. They told me they still had his brother though. I asked if I could see him and one of the gals got up to the cage and turned to me and asked me to give her the gloves.
I asked her why she needed gloves to get him out and another gal came over and picked up this beautiful golden and white fur ball and put him in my arms. He put his face up to the left side of my neck, just as Merlin had, and snuggled down. I held him close and found he was quivering. After a few short strokes on his back he relaxed into my body. We started the adoption papers right away.
Getting my new little boy home, I put the carrier in the bathroom, where Merlin had started. I asked Merlin to come into the bathroom too. We had a new litter pan in the bathroom, food across the floor with fresh water, and lots of warm rugs on the floor. After a while, I opened the cage and left him in the bathroom.
After a while, I went back in and found him hiding behind the litter tray in the closet. I realized he was frightened and when he hissed at me, I knew he was going to need special care. Every time Prince meowed or made a verbal sound, Merlin raced in to see if he was okay.
I work during the day so kept my little guys separate for a few days. After the first week, I began to let them be together. They chased each other, wrestled, and began to have fun together.
I always fed them together and this continued throughout their short time together. We had Prince only for a few weeks when it became obvious that my little, affectionate Merlin was ill. Merlin always came to me and ran ahead of me but he had stopped doing these things, preferring to be under the bed with Prince. I would sing to them both every chance I got, singing their names and praising their beauty.
In September, 2014, Merlin was diagnosed with hydroencephaloplasia and within a matter of days was blind from an extreme fever. After we got the fever under control (my vet is the very BEST) we realized that the seizures Merlin was having were from a far worse condition called spinal meningitis. On November 7, 2014, Merlin went to heaven or I prefer to call it Rainbow Bridge.
Prince and I were devastated at our loss. After a few days we began to interact more than we had before. He would lie on the floor and I would lie across from him. He would turn his head upside down and I would turn my head upside down. He would reach a paw out to me and I would reach a few fingers out to him. He would rub my leg and bump his torso into my shoulder – always this guy seemed to know exactly where each of his body parts are, including that big, bushy long tail. After a while, he let me pet him and even snuggle
his neck sometimes.
Prince began to wake me up by landing heavily on my stomach. He would knead the covers over my stomach then dive for my feet, just as he and Merlin had done early on. I would laugh and he would jump back to attack the covers over my giggling belly. Then, out for his breakfast. He always has dry food but he gets a can of Fancy Feast every morning and every night. He has always been huge and solid not fat at all.
Prince’s body is compact and rectangular with white tuffs of hair between his toes both in the front and in the hind legs. He has lots of extra fluffy white fur between his chin and his chest which is always silky smooth. His hair is silky smooth too and he has slightly darker rings along his tail and along his sides. His ear tuffs are cute and I think cause him to have extremely sensitive hearing. He stays under the bed for hours when I vacuum. It’s like he’s mad at me or something, for making so much noise.
He loves to chase balled up paper bags and toy balls and he even has a little grey koala. He loves to jump up and catch these things and just like a football player, he spikes the toy on the ground and walks or runs away, hoping for another toss.
He runs the perimeter of the room in record time and stops on a dime to see if any toy is airborne yet. He will hit the back of the couch and wait. When a toy comes his way, he will land on the couch, even on his back, to catch the toy. He’s even done a somersault off the back of the couch to catch his Koala. Once again, when it’s caught, the toy gets slammed down and Prince makes his victory lap around the room.
I have had hours of laughter with this little guy. He has started to get curious about the shower. He will sit on the floor or up on the sink and wait for me to emerge. Often, he gets up on the side of the tub to watch the water.
Both of my kittens started out timid and scared. Merlin rebounded very quickly and never went back to being timid. I believe they are Maine Coon mixes; Prince being large and Merlin being much more petite. Prince will not be out around anyone who comes over. He hides, even now, at almost 8 months old.
I keep thinking that lots of love, affection, and encouragement will help him to feel more secure. I found out that he had been adopted and brought back after a week or two because he had undesirable behaviors. I have seen a frightened, beautiful, very smart kitten emerge from this ball of white and golden-brown fur.
His personality has shown that he is playful, smart, affectionate-on-his-terms, and a wonderful companion for me. He greets me at the door when I come home and verbalizes until I get down on the floor with him for a hug. Sometimes I pick him up for a hug but he does not like that as much. When I’m on the floor with him, he is much more comfortable. So, that’s what we do every day.
We play a lot and I take the lead from him as to how much affection he wants. Whatever has happened to him in his past has scarred him and I intend to love him into healing as much as possible. We are blessed to have each other and I let him know I’m his girl as much as he’s my guy!