Penny lived at Al-Bayan Bilingual school for six months. No one adopted her. She adopted us. She slept in the courtyard and let anyone pet her, even middle schoolers, and anyone feed her (as it turned out, it took a fair number to feed her). In personality and looks, she reminded me of a young Bebe.
Towards the end of the 2005 school year, it became apparent to everyone except me that Penny, though only a year or so old, would soon have little kittens of her own. To prepare for this, we set up a warm box in my classroom. Penny immediately ran away from this. When we did not see her for a couple of days, we thought something happened. Then, the maids found her. She gave birth in a school locker. Talk about school spirit.
For about a month, Penny and her kittens lived in a bedroom with Ms. Erin. In the meantime, I continued to kid myself that, since she and Bebe shared a personality, they might actually share an apartment for awhile. Finally, when Erin left for the summer, Penny and her kittens came under my care.
I did not seriously anticipate Bebe would welcome the kittens. For that reason, I put Penny and the kittens in my bedroom. For various reasons, outlined below, I slept in the front room. Bebe would periodically walk to the door of "her" bedroom and hiss and growl, but Penny remained occuppied with caring for his kittens. I continued to pretend Furbabe might get along with Penny.
The kittens needed to stay with me for a couple of weeks. They made the most of their time. They hid in almost any place one can hide in a small apartment. They, however, spent the major portion of their time romping around with one another and periodically attacking their mother with demands for milk and attention. Meanwhile, I tried to find homes for them.
Penny herself seemed to take a decreasing amount of interest in them. She would give me her attention when I entered the room rather than the kittens. Some of them, as I explain below, did not really take "no" for an answer, but it seemed a ripe time to take away the kittens from her, if someone would only take Penny.
The kittens continued to make an enormous amount of noise. They also seemed to need far less sleep than a young person might, and they particularly liked to play around 200 am. This made me decide to continue sleeping in my front room, which Bebe continued to "defend" against these strange outsiders to her world.
The only male in the group, Elf found a home the most quickly. A girl in one my classes, after looking at the pictures of the kittens, quickly selected Elf.For Elf this seemed a good move. The girl's family possessed no other animals. Besides, he seemed to draw a lot of attention. Dwarf (below) seemed to spend half of her life attacking him. Also, his mother seemed to notice him more than the other kittens. Her usual way of dealing with him consisted of suddenly grabbing him between her front paws and licking him until his coat shone, whether he enjoyed the treatment or not.
Unfortunately, this did not prove the end of the Elf story. To read the rest click here to go to Elf's page.
Dwarf and Hobbit # 2 (see below for # 1) distinguished themselves by their rambunctiousness. Dwarf particularly enjoyed biting and attacking other kittens, especially Elf. Her idea of a good time consisted of jumping on his back, which rolled him into Hobbit # 2 who would then attack Elf. Sometimes, after starting the fight, she would then stand back and watch or attack whichever side seemed most likely to win. So much for female gentleness.
Hobbit # 2 always seemed to follow Dwarf not, ironically, Hobbit # 1. When Elf, to their eyes anyway, suddenly "disappeared," Dwarf devoted the majority of her devilishness to Hobbit # 2, who became her new favorite playmate. Both of them then tried, less sucessfully, to involve Hobbit # 1 in their games.
All three of the remaining kittens initially went to a Kuwaiti lady though, appropriately enough, Hobbit # 1 eventually went her separate way. She put them together with two other kittens under her foster care. Initially reticent, Dwarf soon found herself surrounded by even more kittens to attack.
The program for these kittens involves possibly trying to place them. If not placed, the program will release them as feral cats in a suitable area, sort of like born free. Anyone interested in claiming either of them should email me and possibly I can get one of them for you.
At some point, though I remained primarily concerned with Penny, I decided I deserve to play with them at least a little. One day, I came into my room, and I said.
"I want one of you hobbits. Where is my hobbit?"
Hobbit # 1 pricked her head. After that, she became "hobbit." The rest of the name scheme came from this.After this, I began to notice that Hobbit differed a bit from the others. The smallest cat, she less seldom rolled around on the floor with the others, more often going off to explore on her own. She also showed a lot more interest, most of it unrequited, in spending time with her mother.
She also seemed a bit smarter than the others. Besides knowing how to avoid a fight, she learned her own name. She also figured out how to "escape from me" and get back to the floor as occasion demanded. If I intended to take a kitten, she'd have been my first choice. She might (okay, it's a stretch) even have gotten along with Furbabe.
A friend of the lady who took the three kittens noticed Hobbit. She particularly liked her face which does not resemble that of Hobbit # 2 in terms of shape. She looks more like a rodent than a cat. The lady adopted Hobbit # 1.
With the kittens gone, I could finally sleep in my own room. Without the need for her care, also I took Penny to get her shots and become spayed. It became time to see if Penny, without her kittens, could get along with Bebe.First experiments did not seem encouraging. Left together, Penny would put out a low, moaning sound and scrunch down submissively while Bebe tried to puff herself up as much as possible and howled and hissed. Unfortunately, you can't hide much from Bebe. For all her bluff, Penny, even one recovering from nursing was a younger, taller, much stronger animal. After a certain amount of time enduring Bebe's complaints and threats, she would move forward. Bebe inevitably retreated. As I say, Bebe is not a dumb cat.
At this point, I could lie to myself that the two would ever get along. Both of them wanted human attention, not animal. It became time to say goodbye to Penny. I relentlessly sold her good nature and gentleness to children to various people. Finally, a lady in my classes consented to take Penny.
Unforunately, after a long weekend Penny returned to my home. At her new owners house, Penny had lain around and slept almost continuously. She also displayed a very bad temper. I felt particularly bad when, despite my singing her love of children, Penny bit one of the lady's children. They must have felt that I deceived them about Penny.
Penny then went back to living in my bedroom. A very affectionate animal, she always slept by my side or even in the small of my back. While Bebe knows enough not sleep near a restless sleeper, Penny would sleep with her paws just touching me. In the middle of the night, I would feel a paw gently touching me, and I could almost hear her say:
"Could you please move? You're on my paw, sir.Most of the day, I kept her locked in the bedroom. Occasionally, I would hear a faint rolling of a pencil. I would open the door to find her rolling that pencil back and forth waiting for me to open the door. She would do this for an hour or more, it became genuinely heart-wrenching.
Nor did this make Bebe any more friendly. The two times a day they spent together when I fed them both became battles. In particular, Penny, a big eater, inevitably wanted to eat Bebe's food, no matter where I placed it. On some low, instinctive level, this drove Bebe crazy. On her side, she became increasingly obsessed with sleeping in "her bedroom." More than once she opened the door to the bedroom, which, of course, resulted in another cat fight. Yet to hear my cat howl, then jump into the air and hurl her body at the handle to open it, is not for the faint-hearted either.
After three weeks, I finally found another person willing to take Penny. This woman already owned three cats, one for each child, but her daughter despearately wanted her own cat.
Initially, Penny did not adjust well here either. The new owner's mother tried isolating her, as I had done. Her daughter and she did not succeed in making friends with Penny. At this point, I felt as though I'd destroyed a cat. From being a cat who loved everyone, I'd made her a sullen animal content to live her whole life in a tiny little bedroom rolling a pencil back and forth. When we ran out of ideas, we finally decided to let Penny out to interact with the other cats.
This proved the turning point. Penny became her old self again. Perhaps she missed the company of her kittens. Maybe so many changes had confused her, but she became her usual outgoing self and quickly made friends with all of the children in the family.
One more test remained. When Elf (click here to go to Elf's page) returned to me, to be fair, I needed to offer her. After all, most people would prefer a kitten to a cat, even a relatively young cat. She promised to ask her daughter.
When she returned to class two days later, she said, "Well, I did ask her, but it's as I thought. She said no. She doesn't want another cat. She wants Penny."With that, I knew that her new owner had the Penny that we all loved those months at Al-Bayan. Penny was finally home. Links to Other Places on the Net: On to Elf's Page Back to Fruit Home
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