Top 10 Things You’ll Reconsider Once You’ve Become a “Kitten Mom”

Phoebe June is a delight. We adopted her on December 7th. Later that evening, I saw via Joanna Gaines on Instagram that on that same day, Chip surprised the family with a new kitten! For a moment, I questioned whether I should change Phoebe June’s name to Magnolia, but somehow “Phoebe” had already “stuck”. We do love “Fixer Upper” and the Gaines family and wish them the best with their new additions – the kitten and the soon-to-arrive baby!

I’m sure if you’ve seen any of her innocent-looking photos, you’re assuming that Phoebe June spends her days with her powder-puff paws crossed waiting for someone to stroke her velvet fur.

Phoebe on Adoption www.midweststoryteller.com

The reason for that is that all the action shots I’ve tried to obtain of Phoebe have been a complete blur. When she is not striking a demure pose for the camera, Smuffy and I are taking turns at Wildcat Patrol. Well, I take more turns than Smuffy, but then I also get the most kitty cuddles, so I suppose I can live with it.

Our veterinarian wanted to know if Phoebe was alert and playful. I showed him my scratch marks.

Having a cat in the house is different from having a kitten in the house. Our last two cats, who were two years apart in age, each lived to be 16 years old, so it’s been a long time since we started afresh. Though they remained playful all their lives – Y I K E S ! – it’s not the same as bringing home a charged-up little lightning bolt of energy that is the most playful hunter on earth – a 7 ½ week old kitten.

Phoebe June had an adorable sister. Here they are on the day we met when I was trying to decide which to adopt.

Phoebe June and Sweet Sis www.midweststoryteller.com

Sweet Sister seemed docile and shy – such endearing qualities. Phoebe June, on the other hand, entered the room with an air that suggested that if it were not a fun-filled place, she’d be happy to remedy the problem in three seconds or less.

Having had a couple of truly neurotic cats in the past, I chose brave kitty. I got brave kitty! She’s smart and tries her best to cooperate with the rules, but some things prove irresistible, such as the taking down of the Christmas tree. I should have probably gotten a sitter for that one.

To give you a glimpse of our fun-filled days and a guide should you consider bringing home a kitten, I’m sharing this list that reflects how we’ve acclimated to Phoebe June’s world.

Top 10 Things Kitten Mom www.midweststoryteller.com

Cats are fascinating and each one seems to have strange traits, odd fears and unique habits that don’t have any rhyme or reason and don’t quite fit in with any of the scientific studies on cats. There are just some things the experts can’t explain about feline behavior.

Phoebe June has her share of these quirks already, but the one that is the most puzzling and causes me the greatest loss of sleep is her unexplainable desire to eat my hair! This she confines, annoyingly, to the early morning hours. She’s a clingy sort, but being nocturnal, she roams a bit a night and nods off under the bed between her excursions and a few hops back onto the bed to be sure I haven’t run away from home.

Then, in the pre-dawn, when the stealthy mountain lions of the wild stir and head out for the hunt, Phoebe June stirs also. She hunts for one thing only – Mommy! It’s as though she’s re-discovered me after a prolonged absence and the joy is too much for her.

Climbing onto my head with her purr-box rumbling like a Harley, she wraps all four paws around my head and clinging with all her might, tries to remove my hair! And the question is: Why?

Needless to say, at this point I am awake! As I disentangle her and pull her down to ruffle her fur and give her a snuggle, I can’t help but giggle at the amount of affection that seems to be lavished upon me in this strange act. Though she may be clutching at my head with all her strength, there are no claws involved, only purring, wallowing and (sigh) gnawing.

And then you fall back asleep?” you assume. Nope. Phoebe June’s full affections take a while to dissipate and she’ll make several more attempts at snatching me bald before she gets it out of her system and settles down on my shoulder to flop around until breakfast is served.

Hopefully, this is a passing phase, because one of her favorite times to run amok through the house is around 10:45 each night. These frenzies can last a couple of hours, so if she doesn’t give up one or the other habits, I may be feeling soon, as they say, “a mere shadow of my former self.”

I thought Phoebe June’s story might bring you a smile during the wintry days of January. You can deny it, but I know you’re watching those funny cat videos online!

If you’re a “cat person”, I’m sure you have a story or two to of your own about the cats in your life. Scroll back up to the top of this post and “Leave a Comment” to share them. I’d love to hear from you!

Have some cat-loving friends? Be sure to SHARE!

Want more on how Smuffy deals with cats? Check it out here, but please, cover your eyes!

Little Gladys and the Extended Cure

Let’s journey back to the late 1920’s. If you can recall any tunes from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, hum along.  It’ll put you in the proper mood.

In the tiny town along the railroad tracks where my mother grew up, life revolved around daily chores, school, church, and a trip to the store for necessaries, news and a haircut (all in the same place and provided by her daddy, Judge, who wasn’t one, but that’s another story). A break in the routine came when relatives visited or when the kids got to go spend time with grandparents.

Even prior to being old enough to attend school, my mom often stayed with her grandparents to help out the old folks, seein’ as how their rheumatiz kept them from doing all the things they’d done when they were spring chickens. They lived near another tiny town just ten miles down the tracks. By the way, is anything ever “up” the tracks?

Here they are dandling a couple of the grandkiddies on their knees, Grandma in a dress that seemed to reappear in most of her photos and Uncle John sporting a fine head of hair and a beard to match.  I imagine he cut quite a figure in his Union Blues back in his Civil War fighting days, don’t you?

Martha and Uncle John www.midweststoryteller.com

Just so we get things straight – Grandma Martha married John, who had actually been married to her sister, Emma. It was all on the up-and-up, because Emma had passed on, leaving Uncle John a free man. Martha, having been first widowed (now that fellow was my mom’s actual grandpa) and then receiving a court judgment freeing her up from a no-good scoundrel, married John, who, in addition, was a second cousin, once removed. So, my mom grew up with a step-grandpa/uncle-by-marriage cousin whom they all called Uncle John. Well, now that that’s all cleared up…

Now isn’t this a little darlin’?

Little Gladys Pearl www.midweststoryteller.com

She’s my mom’s little sister, Gladys Pearl.  I have no idea where she came up with that parasol, but I’ll bet she was mighty proud of it!

The family didn’t call everyone by double names, but they must have sensed that it was a fit for Gladys Pearl. She’d need it later, when she married and moved to the Deep South.

Little Gladys Pearl had a turn at staying with Grandma and Uncle John. Things were different in those days. Though big cities may have already embraced telephones and electric lights to a certain degree, out here in the Midwest things remained “off the grid”. In fact, there was no grid. Believe it or not, even good parents believed that anyone with a responsible job who could look you in the eye and shake your hand could be trusted. They may have had a few qualms about putting a small child on a train and giving the conductor instructions to see that they got off at the right stop, but they did it. I’m not sure if anyone met Gladys Pearl at the train when she reached her destination, because I’m sure they didn’t have a phone. Somehow she got there and perhaps had to find her way out to Grandma and Uncle John’s place.

Gladys helped Grandma and Uncle John with small chores and they enjoyed her visit, just as they did when their other grandchildren came. Having a pair of energetic little legs to run after this and that eased the daily grind.

One night, after going to bed, Grandma and Uncle John tossed and turned. Their rheumatiz seemed determined to keep them up all night. Miserable, they called out to Gladys Pearl, asking her to please bring them the liniment.

There seemed no point in going to the trouble of lighting a coal oil lamp for such a swift and simple errand. Gladys Pearl crawled out of bed. Guided by the comforting voices of Grandma and Uncle John and a glimmer of moonlight, she felt her way through the darkness and groped for the cupboard door. Following their instructions, her fingers soon fell upon a small bottle. Grasping it, she turned and, feeling her way toward their bed, handed it to her grateful grandparents.

Grandma and Uncle John passed the bottle between them, splashing the fluid onto their fingers and rubbing it everywhere. They applied it to every aching joint they had before resettling themselves under the covers.

After a bit, they called out to Gladys Pearl again, thanking her for being such a good helper and telling her that they felt better already! All three now settled in for a good night’s sleep.

The following morning when the household came to life, the day began with surprises all around.

Little Gladys Pearl, doing her best, hadn’t managed to get hold of the liniment bottle. Even if there had been a sliver of moonbeam to assist her, she likely hadn’t learned to read anyway.

What Gladys Pearl got was a glass bottle version of this –

Mrs. Stewart's Bluing www.midweststoryteller.com

Just in case you missed the punch line, I’ll explain. (And, if you are below a certain age or have never made a salt crystal garden with your kids, you probably did miss the punch line.)

Laundry bluing is exactly that – BLUE! To be specific, it’s NAVY blue! Clothing dyes include blues, yellows, etc., but over time the blue fades away, leaving fabrics “yellowed”. To bring the crisp, newness back to whites, you would add a tiny touch of bluing to a wash load. Note the instructions for usage as pertains to diluting –

Mrs. Stewart's Bluing Instructions www.midweststoryteller.com

Full-strength bluing, applied directly (and liberally) to the skin, left Grandma and Uncle John navy blue all over, not to mention their night clothes and the bed sheets. And, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t wash off – it wears off. It’s a good thing they were country folk. They could, most likely, avoid a trip to town for a month or more if necessity called for it. This case of the blues probably made them reluctant to socialize.

Though this true story has made it through the generations, I’m sad to say that it never occurred to me to ask who noticed first.

Did Grandma and Uncle John wake up and, looking down at their hands, come to the conclusion that a mysterious deadly plague had descended on the household overnight? Or, did Gladys Pearl wake up first? If so, it must have been traumatic at her age to look in on Grandma and Uncle John, hoping they might be stirring and working their way toward fixing her breakfast, only to find her grandparents had turned blue!

As far as I know, the old folks took it all in stride. Grandparents have a way of doing that when it comes to the little ones. Besides, they did “ask for it” – didn’t they?

One other unanswered question remains. I’m fairly certain, however that the answer is “no”. I doubt they ever wrote to the address on the back of the bluing bottle, informing the company that their product, when applied during a bout of rheumatiz, worked wonders. 

I’ve used Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing, with care, in the laundry.  It does the job on those yellowed cottons.  Check out their website here.  They have instructions for everything.  Maybe you can find out what it does for fish and dogs.

Comments? Questions? I encourage you to seek out the old-timers in your family and ask plenty of questions. It can’t all have happened just to us, you know.