My dear readers may recall that I traveled to Michigan for the recent holiday with a very special companion—Pearl. What I have not shared until now is this: Pearl had a one-way ticket to Michigan! Read on for The Story of Pearl, filled with a seemingly endless series of agonizing decisions, though I can assure you that this tale has a happy ending. Onward!
Goodbye Kitty. Oh, Pearl!
I love to foster kittens. LOVE IT. I used to capture them on my own [à la Sophie] but, when I moved to Northern California, I joined forces with the East Bay SPCA. This was my first experience teaming up with a shelter, and it certainly had its advantages. For example, vet costs and medicine were a non-issue because the shelter had qualified veterinarians on staff.
One of the pitfalls of working with the shelter was the short fostering periods. I had a pair of boys that were only around for about a week and a half! Hardly enough to get them socialized to my standards but, once they reach 2lbs, it’s a done deal. The EBSPCA has foster homes keep the kittens until they weigh 2lbs or more; that’s the minimum weight for spaying and neutering per their regulations, and all animals must be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. Fair enough!
Well, in early September 2009, I received a weekly email that goes out to all the fosters listing the available kittens and cats needing temporary homes. Wisely, this mewsletter does not mention the coloring or sex of the kittens. All you know going into it are their given names and ages. So, I signed up to foster Hop & Scotch, a pair of 5-week olds. I imagined two white-and-black rough-and-tumble boy cats. Imagine my surprise when Hop & Scotch turned out to be twin sisters, white gleaming fluff balls with quarter-sized gray spots on the tops of their heads, and pink little paws, and rose petal ears. I deemed Hop & Scotch to be misleading monikers… so I renamed them Pearl & Rose.
Who could resist such tiny little beings?
I immediately picked a favorite. I know this is an awful thing to do, but I just couldn’t help it. Rose was sweet and well-behaved; an angel cat. Pearl, on the other hand, was wild! Even as a baby, she was filled with personality! The first thing I noticed was that she was so busy; busy biting things, exploring, poking around… She was an evil genius.
Even then, a spark of intelligence lit Pearl’s eye.
One of my favorite memories of Pearl takes place one evening in October, just as I came home from work. It was dark in the apartment as I entered, but I was able to see something pale and ghostly zip past me… a vaguely kitten-shaped blob. I switched on the kitchen light and recognized Pearl immediately—she would be the one to escape the kitten box first! My second thought was of Rose. Had she followed Pearl’s example? I paused, listening.
I heard the most pitiful mewing coming from the spare bathroom where the kitten box was. I ran in to check on Rose, with Pearl at my heels. Rose was worked up into a pathetic frenzy, pawing at the cardboard walls, having been abandoned by her wayward twin. I looked down at Pearl and scolded her, saying, “You wicked creature! Your poor sister! How could you?” But Pearl looked pleased with herself… and I admit, I felt proud, too. Crafty little thing. Such a scamp!
What happened to Pearl? What happened to Rose? Come back tomorrow for more.
"I can't wait for the next chapter!" said Rose.