Ever since we lost Pink to renal lymphoma a year ago, we had felt that the cat family was very unbalanced in addition to the gaping hole left by his absence. Jaco and Laxmi were tightly bonded, and Gureyo was almost always off by herself. That wouldn’t do, so we began actively looking for a new kitten to help fill the empty space vacated by Pink.
Listen while you read to an updated version of “Quintessentially Pink”, a new piece we’d just begun working on around the first anniversary of losing Pink, the youngest Panache Cat in May 2013, and named in his memory.
May – June 2013
In mid-May around the one-year anniversary of losing Pink, Chi found someone in the Japanese classifieds giving away kittens born to a stray cat they had recently taken in, and they were about the right age — six weeks old, so that weekend we set out for…I think it was Huntington Beach or Fountain Valley to meet the kitten, who his human mom and her daughter had brought out along with his adorable little twin sister that I also wanted, but Chi said no, so we adopted just the little boy.
On the way back home, we discussed potential names. He is a silver-tipped dark-ish gunmetal blue-grey with subtle tabby markings, similar to Gureyo’s base colour — she’s a blue tortie — so I initially wanted to call him “Blue”, to stay with the monosyllable colour theme since he is taking Pink’s place, but couldn’t think of any way to embellish that name the way we did with Pink, i.e., “Pinky-pinks”, “Pinkers”, “Pi-pinga-Pink”, etc., and for whatever reason, Chi didn’t want him named after a colour. Or a bass player (like Jaco, his adoptive “Dad-cat”). He also ruled out any shared syllables or assonance with the names of the other Panache Cats. I had suggested “Ashley”, but he thought it sounded too similar to Laxmi, and assumed they would get confused.
We discussed a few more potential names, including “Tora-chan” due to his faint tiger markings, and that held for a while. However later in the day I hit upon “Dusty” since I noted that his colouring (and size) was such that he blended right in with the dark-ish grey dust and cat fur tumbleweeds Panache House is full of. Chi approved once I explained to him that it is actually a real name, i.e., “Dustin Hoffman”, who Chi met once on an acting job.
I was mindful that the poor little guy had just had his world totally turned upside down and inside out, and tried to imagine how traumatic it must be for a tiny baby that had so far spent all of his six weeks of life with his mother and siblings under the care of a beautiful, sweet young girl in a nice, upscale suburban Orange County neighborhood, to be suddenly removed from his family, taken on a long car ride and plonked down in the Mother of All Ghettoes amidst a crazy family of three unfamiliar adult cats, NONE of whom were initially welcoming toward him, and three unfamiliar adult humans (we had successive houseguests at that time) in a small-ish, labyrinthine house where chaos and disorder reigns supreme. I really felt bad that we were not in a position to be able to take his twin sister too, not only so he wouldn’t be so lonely and bereft, but so he would have someone his own age to play with and talk to.
He spent the majority of his first day in my arms, both because I wanted him to feel safe and loved, and also did not want him to get hurt or lost/disoriented or worse, which could very easily happen at our place. We brought him along with us when we made a couple brief sorties out to top up dwindling household staples with our even more precariously low funds, and he screamed bloody murder when put in the carrier, so I just held him on my lap while we were rolling and only crated him when we went into the shops. Fortunately it was not a hot day and funds were so low that the shopping had to be limited to absolute essentials (such as wine and rum), so it was very quick.
Well, his first day went exceptionally well given what he was up against. Somewhat oddly, it seemed to take him a minute or so to figure out the canned food we offered him for lunch (at six weeks of age, he had just barely been weaned, and his human mom told us that he had been given Purina Kitten Chow dry food once he stopped nursing — NOT good!), but once he recognized it as food, he ate all that we gave him, and I tried unsuccessfully to get Chi to understand that he needed FREQUENT, SMALL meals until he grew up a little more. He had no problems recognizing the homemade raw food we give the cats for dinner though, and devoured that so quickly I was concerned that he would chuck it up, but he didn’t.
We also gave him his first-ever bubble bath that day also since he had fleas due to his mother being an indoor-outdoor cat, and he handled it quite well. Additionally, he was not litter box trained since his cat mom goes outside to use the facilities, and his human mom told us that the kittens have been using a newspaper as a toilet so far. He figured it out practically instantly! We just periodically put him in one of the litter boxes, and eventually he had to go and made the correct mental association. As far as I know, he hasn’t had a single “accident”. He only chucked a couple times: once when Chi gave him too much food in one sitting, and again when we didn’t cut his bedtime treat (raw chicken gizzard) into tiny enough pieces for him.
In order to keep him contained without actually crating him (which he did NOT like!), we tried putting him in the laundry cart, but even with his wobbly little six-week-old legs, he still learned to climb out of it by the next day. We kept him in the laundry cart that we placed next to our bed when we went to bed that night since we were afraid that he would fall off the bed and get lost or get squashed when one of us moved if we put him in bed with us, and although he cried at first, he settled down after not too long and slept through the night.
The other Panache Cats eventually took to him one by one, although somewhat surprisingly, Jaco took longer to befriend him, presumably since he is still grieving the loss of Pink, whom he was deeply bonded to, and now they’re a big, happy cat family again. I have never seen Laxmi play so much with any of the other cats as she does with Dusty. It’s really fun to watch! Ever since Day One he seemed to make it his life’s mission to take down Jaco with a flying tackle. Over the next several months, Dusty quickly grew to be big and strong, and is highly intelligent and fascinated by music.
One distressing thing he does though is eat fabric, i.e., clothing, blankets, kitchen rags, dust cloths, etc., so we cannot leave anything like that out where he can get to it. A few of our blankets now are completely trashed, and he has shown a particular preference for my socks, which he quickly learned to dig out of my laundry basket, and ate all the nice new ones I had recently bought to wear to work, plus a very good pair of athletic socks I need very much. It’s a good thing he hasn’t discovered the kitchen curtains (yet).
In any event, he keeps all of us well entertained — in fact, I had forgot how amusing young kittens can be — and he did something especially funny one day. Chi told me that while he was having lunch, Dusty was making an insistent nuisance of himself so Chi yelled at him to STFU. Well, little Dusty just yelled right back at Chi! I SOOOO wish that had been caught on camera!