In just over a month, Nuala will turn 6.
I can’t really believe that. She’s still a kitten in my eyes. I have known her from the first hours of her life. She was born in the house she lives in. She’s faced so little change since she was a kitten. The hardest part was losing two moms – her own mother’s passing when she was just 9 weeks old, and then Mouci’s passing 2 years later. Mouci was every bit a mom to Nuala though Mouci had never had kittens of her own. Theirs was an easy and beautiful bonding.
But like seasons, little things change in our homes and lives. I try to keep the kitties out of our bedroom – not only to keep fur off the work clothes but to ease the burden of dander on J’s sudden diagnosis of asthma that requires a daily puffer.
This doors-closed policy has not sat well with Nuala. 5 times a day she will go to the bedroom door and scratch on it. Wanting in. Wanting in even if we are not there. Wanting in especially if we are there.
Recently it’s occurred to me that she is bonded with the place. Our master bedroom and bathroom (in all it’s craptasic builder-basic simplicity) is hers in a deep sense I think she feels. She was born there. The weeks she knew her mother were all there. The weeks she played with her siblings were all there. Does she feel all that – that connection to her birth family?
When she comes into the bathroom, she runs and plays along the side of the tub even when she’s alone. The way they used to pay when they were young.
In our bed, she still wants to walk on us and lick us awake and play with our sleeping forms as she did when the 6 kittens had been reduced to 3 with the adoptions of Cayenne, Chili and Nutmeg. Ginger, Paprika and Saffron (aka Nuala) were given wider house-rights and used to play on us.
And you just can’t put down an empty laundry basket. She loves them… she must jump into it to play or sleep. I’ve been thinking of how I carried them from our master bath to the front room to train them to new spaces before they met their future adopters. Every day (2x a day often) – I’d carry kittens in a laundry basket across the home. Did her love and ease of baskets start then and remain with her?
To this day she ‘captures and kills’ the ‘snake’ and brings it to us – the same long white shoelace she played with as a kitten when all the others were adopted and gone. Does she remember? Or does it just resonate in her somewhere?
Nuala was the one left behind. The one who stayed. I often wonder about the others. Are they happy? Safe? Cared for and loved? Would they remember these things if they encountered them again? The shape of the tub that they played in, the feel of that bathroom where they spent their earliest weeks, the smell of each other, the love that was given to them there – by us and by their mom.
I always instinctively knew that the first weeks of life for kittens shape them forever. Forge how they choose to interact with other cats and with humans – forever. How they build trust and connect. But I have never been sure about memories. Nuala is showing me that there is a connection.
So… with a glad heart… and just a bit of melancholy… our bedroom door stays open. Like an open door to Nuala’s past and the days we shared with her family