Pepper adds spice to household

By LINDA YOUNKIN Cat lover Published:

Peppers a keeper.

Its been nearly two years since Phil Case wrote a column about the two tiny kittens his wife, Susan, found abandoned on the side of a road near Bridgeport.

In that column he said that their daughter Megan was taking one of the kittens and I was going to take the other on a trial basis.

It didnt take me two years to decide to keep Pepper. That decision was made almost as soon as I met her, when one and a half pounds of black fur arched its back and hissed at me while I, a complete stranger to her, was trying to put her in a carrier for a trip to the veterinarian.

Our first meeting might have been a little rocky, but weve been getting along swimmingly since then.

The same cant be said about Peppers relationship with my other two cats. Their reaction to her arrival was my only reservation about taking her in.

Oddibe, my 14-year-old male cat, was curious, while Babe, my six-year-old female cat, was furious. Thats just about what I expected.

What I didnt expect was that this kitten would be absolutely fearless around both cats. That she got along with Oddibe was no surprise. That she continued to pester Babe despite Babes very vocal protests was.

But her persistence paid off.

I cant say the two are fast friends, but Babe likes Pepper about as well as shed like any cat and thats a good thing since, sadly, we lost Oddibe to kidney disease a little over a year ago.

It was about two weeks after Peppers arrival that things settled down in our household, although she never knew anything was amiss.

Pepper spent her first days at my house hiding behind furniture and doors, just waiting for some living creature to pass by so that she could pounce on them.

Oddibe took the brunt of her abuse, although he was big enough to just shake her off and keep going on his way. But once Pepper arrived Oddibe was rarely able to eat in peace, or use the litterbox unattended.

I thought Oddibe and Babe would get a little break when I had Pepper spayed, but that didnt happen. She came home the same day she had surgery, and by that night she was jumping on and off furniture.

She didnt slow down a bit, and when it came time to have her stitches taken out I think there were just two that were still intact.

Pepper made herself right at home, and eventually the other cats came around.

She and Babe now chase each other through the house almost daily, and their wrestling matches are endless. Thats how I know Babe really likes Pepper if she didnt no games would be played.

From Babe Pepper has learned to distrust any person other than myself, and shes taken it to the extreme. As one of the technicians at the vets office told me on Peppers last visit Shes a very good cat, shes very sweet, but shes just so frightened.

But thats not the case at home, where shes developed idiosyncrasies all her own.

Shes fascinated with feet and flushing toilets. She loves fresh vegetables, but just to play with not to eat.

She likes to lie on her back, particularly in the bathroom doorway in the morning while Im getting ready for work. Then, when I have to step over her to get out of the bathroom, she tries to grab my feet or ankles.

Babe is the absolute center of her universe. Food is a close second. Im somewhere farther down the line, but I dont spend time thinking about where that might be.

In the morning, if I dont head straight for the kitchen to feed her, or if Im not filling her bowl fast enough, she nips my legs. Not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to get her point across.

She recently passed her second birthday and has become more of a lap cat, but she still doesnt spend much time there. Maybe its because Babe doesnt like to share.

But when I come home, 99 times out of 100 Pepper is at the door to greet me. She tends to follow me from room to room, and she has her own stool where she sits and keeps me company while I cook. (That isnt why the stool is in the kitchen. She just appropriated it.)

Pepper is the latest in a long line of cats that Ive had since I bought my home 16 years ago. The house came with a stray cat. Ballou only lived about six weeks after I moved in because of feline leukemia, but that was long enough to get me, who grew up in a household of dog lovers, hooked on cats.

While I love dogs, I quickly found out that cats are a better fit for my schedule. I also found out that, contrary to popular belief, all cats are not the same.

Theyre not all aloof, theyre not all snooty, and its been my experience that they really love their person.

Just look at Pepper.

Megans cats name is Calypso. I understand her personality is much like her sisters!

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