On Saturday, it will have been one year since my parents drove to our house with this guy in tow. You may remember that my parents were on one of their regular drives through the Iowa countryside when they found Avon and his sister. Someone had abandoned the very young kittens in a box by a busy highway.
Both of the kittens were starving, especially Avon who was tiny and frail. My parents brought them home and nursed them back to health. It wasn’t clear if Avon would make it, and if my parents hadn’t found them, he most certainly wouldn’t have. Avon’s sister was adopted out to a different family, and we adopted little Avon.
During those first few weeks, he turned our world around. It was only upon having a new kitten that we realized what a quiet and still home we’d had with adult cats who were set in their habits. Pre-Avon, we started our day with leisurely cups of coffee and calm internet time. Post-Avon… Well, he only has two speeds – warp and off. He is both a whirling dervish and a bundle of love. He’ll race through the house with the thunder of horses, but he also loves to cuddle, purr, and give kisses.
We wondered if Jezebel would warm to Avon, a new kitten in the house, but Avon didn’t give her a choice. He loves her something fierce, and it wasn’t long before they were grooming each other, all curled up in the same small space. Avon pesters Jezebel too much sometimes, and there is some screeching involved, but I am so happy they have each other.
She has always been the alpha-meow of the family, but her maternal instinct kicked in with Avon, and she stands back and lets him eat first, even though she could easily elbow him out of the way. When he is being particularly aggressive, we’ll lock him outside of the bedroom with Jezebel on the other side. It’s never too long before Jezebel is at the door begging to be with him again. They fight, but they love each other too.
After starving as a kitten, it’s taken most of this year for Avon to realize that he will never be hungry again. At first we had to keep a careful eye on him, because he wanted to eat everything. We’ve had to replace computer power cords, hide phone chargers, and always tuck in the drawstrings of our pants, because he wants to leap at them claws first.
It is a reminder that all of us – kittens included – spend our lives trying to save ourselves from past pain. Avon always runs to the sound of food being poured and is ready to dodge into the refrigerator every time it opens. Even though Avon’s food bowl is never empty and treats are plentiful, it’s only within the past couple of months that there are treats he will turn up his nose at (as is a cat’s prerogative). Even if it perplexed him that Jezebel loved asparagus, if that’s what was offered, he would look at her quizzically and then gobble it down. Now he’s willing to walk away from a treat, and that’s big progress.
Avon’s Bad Day
One memory that stands out from his first couple months here is when I came home from the gym, and Avon was uncomfortable, still, and not at all himself. He wasn’t interested in food and looked nauseous. The next day, he continued to be sedentary and ill, and so we took him to the vet, where they did an X-ray. They couldn’t find anything wrong, but said that if he still wasn’t eating in 24 hours, they would have to do exploratory surgery. My heart ached at the idea of sending a tiny kitten in for surgery.
Luckily, that night we realized what had happened. Jezebel had an old toy, a cat dancer, one of those long, dangly fabric pieces that is attached to a stick. When you dangle it in the air, cats jump for it. Well, since it was so old, it had gotten separated from the stick. So we’d just use the fabric as a jumping toy. It was 15 inches long and about one inch wide. Apparently Avon had taken one swallow of it, and then he was committed. He kept swallowing and swallowing until the fabric was gone.
I realize this is a cooking blog, and so I’ll keep the gross details to a minimum here… But you know that trick that clowns do, where they pull a long piece of fabric out of their pocket, and it just keeps coming and coming and coming? Well, something like that happened with Avon later that evening – all in one piece. Worst clown trick ever. But after that, he was back to his old self again, no surgery necessary. Since then we’ve been especially vigilant about not having anything out that he might eat, even if it’s something 15 inches long that seems impossible for him to swallow.
Does Avon do any other tricks? Why, yes, he does.
He loves to play fetch. He’ll bring me his toy, hunker down for me to throw it, and then run off for it and bring it back. He’s better at fetch than most dogs I’ve known. This is a video of him playing fetch when he was four months old.
Avon makes every day sweeter.
Whenever we come home, he runs to the door and then flops onto his back to say hello. After we pick him up, he covers our noses in kisses. Avon is the happiest being I know. If I’ve closed the bedroom door at night, in the morning when I open it, I hear him bounding down the hallway to greet me. He loves everything, and even the most mundane things are a celebration. “We’re going to bed? Yay! We’re going to make dinner? Yay! We’re going to sit on the porch? Yay!”
I shudder to think of what would have happened if my parents hadn’t found Avon in that field last July. As much as he needed to be saved, we needed him so much more.