Updated May 4, 2017.
Imagine Abby, the Tortoiseshell kitten, a six week old fluff of fur, sick and trembling with fever, standing up to old Dodger at first sight!
From the moment she met him, our newly rescued tortoiseshell kitten let Dodger know who the queen of the house was going to be.
Were we ever surprised!
We’d connected up with Abby just a short time before introducing her to her new home with us. She’d been rescued by a cat loving citizen, part of a group of foster families that help cats find homes.
Abby came from a hovel of a place housing over 100 cats, underfed and neglected, crawling with vermin so bad she couldn’t relax, because of her skin constantly twitched; her ears were folded down so stuffed with ear mites they were.
She was a cute little domestic shorthair Tortoiseshell kitten. Her coloring, reminds me of an ice cream sundae with patches and sprinklings of banana, cinnamon, chocolate, honey and caramel, and sparkling gold leaf eyes.
From the moment we laid eyes on each other, we bonded forever. Crawling into our arms, she snuggled in and wouldn’t leave.
Because we knew a little of her early history, coming from a bad situation, we had prescheduled an appointment with our trusted veterinarian to care for Abby before we took her home for the first time.
Following the examination and test results, our veterinarian was very grim. Abby was very sick with multiple infections, including pneumonia, and was riddled with parasites. She didn’t expect Abby to survive, and if she did, she would likely be somewhat deaf due to damage from the ear mites and subsequent ear infection.
We’ve seen many pets in our lives rally with good care and lots of love. Undaunted by the prognosis, we stocked up on medicine, made another appointment with the veterinarian, and then headed home.
Before Abby met Dodger, we bathed her twice in Wild Animal Wild Thang pet shampoo, an all-natural cleaner and a safe way to kills fleas and vermin. Dried and warmed her up, fed and watered her.
To our surprise, she didn’t collapse with exhaustion and nap, so excited was she to investigate our house.
Abby proved to be fearless in her new surroundings, delighted with her new home.
Bracing ourselves for the worst, we let him inside.
We were prepared to run interference between the felines; sure that Dodger would mistake Abby for prey and go for the kill.
He can’t help himself . . . it’s instinct.
Ever the hunter, we watched the hideous thought cross Dodger’s mind. His tailed switched. His eyes narrowed, sizing up the marbled fuzz ball.
There was no pussy footing around; our Tortoiseshell kitten stood her ground, puffed up as big as her fur would allow and fiercely hissed at him.
Dodger jerked back, as if he’d hit a wall. No creature had ever dared to stand up to him!
Who’d of thought . . . Dodger, who tolerates no usurpers in his kingdom, would acquiesce to a wobbling baby?
Abby slapped a jeweled crown on her head and let him know she was queen of the castle and there was no arguing about it.
Dodger was allowed access to food and water indoors, and had to ask permission from Abby where he could bed down for an indoor nap now and then. She was happy to share the cat box, when he needed it, but she encouraged him to continue meeting his needs outdoors whenever possible.
The house was hers.
The people were hers . . .
. . . and Dodger’s red mouse toy was now . . . hers!
After months of vigilant care Abby regained her health. She was prone to kitty colds and influenza the first couple of years. Her hearing was a bit impaired, but that cleared up by the time she was three years old.
Her first summer, it took Abby weeks to ease her way outside, one fur tip at a time. She had no interest in treading on Dodger’s realm, and was quite fearful of it, really. The whole experience was like dipping a toe in to test icy water slowly wading in.
A fair weather tortie kitty, she was persnickety about noise (still is), wind, and the temperature must be 70 to 80 degrees only (unless it’s pre-dawn, then the cold doesn’t seem to bother her).
Dodger never challenged Abby’s authority . . .
. . . until the day she ventured outside for the first time on that hot summer day.
Outdoors, Dodger rules, and Abby, a fun-loving kitty, needed to know her place.
When she’d step through out the door Dodger would buzz by, letting her know he was watching every move she made.
For weeks, Abby made it no further than the just outside the back door, sitting in the sunshine on the back stoop.
The day she slinked down to the pond island and hid in the greenery she thought for sure Dodger would mete out a punishment. Instead, he gave his permission.
As her courage grew, she got to know every inch of the pond island.
By the following spring, she was very comfortable making the trek between the pond island and the house. That’s when she discovered how delightful bugs were to play with.
One day, she chased a butterfly, leading her out of bounds across the grassy yard.
From out of nowhere, Dodger pursued. Our Tortoiseshell kitten lit out like her tail was on fire! Tangling with Dodger’s wild side was dangerous.
We came running to our beloved Tortoiseshell kitten's rescue.
All tameness set aside, Dodger gave us a terrible fright!
Young Abby was on her back. Dodger had caught his prey and was at her throat.
A few weeks later, Abby discovered she had a knack for speed and could out dash and out maneuver Dodger, most times escaping his sharpened claws and dripping fangs. I’ve often seen her turn and laugh at him when he gives up the chase and retreats to pout.
Yet, there have been times when Dodger has shouldered the responsibility of her outdoor training, but her playfulness and youth frustrate him.
Abby will never be a true hunter, she’d starve in the midst of plenty. Shrews and mice are just wind-up toys to her. When the battery wears out (when she’s played her prey to death), she gives it a few bats to wake it up. When it’s dead, she walks away disinterested, because all the fun has gone out of the game.
Abby’s favorite outdoor activities are chasing the wind across the tips the grass, flushing out bugs and catching them, digging for moles, buzzing Dodger until he attacks . . . She just wants to play, but to Dodger, life is very serious business.
Still, Abby likes to play hide and seek with Dodger (even though he doesn’t play—she just uses her imagination). Her brindled coat is perfect catouflage (camouflage), and she knows it.
Even though Dodger is king of the realm, Abby, the Tortoiseshell kitten, holds her own as queen of the castle!