|The Bonkers kitten is at the top!|
You see, owing to some upcoming travel plans, there were only two possible windows for the receipt of said kitten. Then it needed to be based within a drivable distance for the pick up and to be aged between 8-10 weeks at that point (I was reluctant to miss too much of the short uber-cuteness window!). It also needed to have been well cared for in the early weeks of life, not to have long hair (two of my friends had impressed upon me the high maintenance nature of extra fluffy cats), and not to be too expensive. For there is usually a cost involved, even when rehoming a cat from a rescue centre. And reading between the lines, the vast majority of '£0 cats' in the classified ads came with baggage - and I am not just talking about their own basket and scratching post. So some cost was actually a kind of reassurance, while too much stood out as flagrant monetising. (Unless you are talking a pedigree, who are obviously in a different price league.) Additionally I didn't want the cat to be 'too pointy' or hairless - that ruled out the admittedly rather small category of Sphynx cats! - and I wanted the kitten to be the perfect mix of outgoing and friendly, but not so exuberant as to be likely to rip the furniture to shreds. And not too highly strung or moody. Oh, and not too vocal. Not that such personality traits can necessarily be determined in advance. ;).
|The late Charlie Bonkers snoozing in the sun|
And most importantly of all - and arguably most shallowly of me, you could say! - I had very specific criteria in terms of the animal's markings...partly based on general aesthetics and partly on my cat owning history ie I didn't want to adopt a kitten who looked similar to one I had had in the past. This narrowed the field to tabby and white or orange/ginger and white, and that was about it! In my capacity as market researcher I would observe that about half the cats in Britain appear to be black or black and white. I already feed a black cat belonging to a friend, and in my street you are never more than six foot away from a black and white cat, most of whom I pet in passing if they will let me, so the monochrome box is well and truly ticked already. This undoubtedly made the search heaps more difficult than it would have been if my colour preferences had been more flexible.
|Charlie and Miro - 1995|
Now it is 20 years ago since I last rehomed a pair of kittens, and back then you would get word of a litter through friends of friends of friends, postcards in shop windows, the vet's, or ads in local papers. There have of course always been rescue centres as another route, but what has changed in the intervening time is the explosion of online ad sites such as Gumtree and Preloved and many more. I did put my name down with several rescue centres, who promised to get in touch - in the first instance to vet my house and street for their suitability, however, with one exception they didn't get back to me. This was doubtless for very good reasons ie that they were busy rescuing bags of kittens from dustbins or what have you, but it meant that I felt quite passive in the process, and there was a chance that they might never contact me - or have a kitten answering my draconian description! - in my critical window for taking one home. So I dived back into the private sector, to have more control of my options - and more choice to start with.
And in the course of my exhaustive - and exhausting! - googling of kittens I quickly realised that as with estate agent speak, there is also a kind of jargon at work here...
'Stunning! gorgeous!' - unremarkable with one rheumy eye
'Last one remaining!' - as above
'Looking for its forever home' - as above, with possible added behavioural difficulties
'Playful' - will bite your hand off
'Will hopefully soon be litter trained' - behavioural difficulties already apparent
'URGENT - must go asap!' - the landlord is throwing us out
'Comes with scratching post and carrying basket' - it's a complete psycho and I never want to own a cat again.
'Has been socialised around children' - the poor creature is traumatised from having fingers constantly poked in its ears.
The photographs in the ads were of very mixed quality too. The ones where the kitten was very small and distant or completely absent were of particular concern. They should perhaps have had the caption 'Stunning! Very mobile!' In other cases the kitten pictured was at the peak of its cute phase, but a closer correlation of birth and current dates revealed that it was in fact a year and a half, and proving difficult to shift.
Then on Sunday I spotted a picture which caught my eye of three very new kittens curled up together. Posting an image of a kitten that new is quite high risk, as they can resemble furry slugs/stoats/sausage-shaped draught excluders, but this litter was so pretty that extreme youth was no barrier to their appeal. I booked a slot to view them on Monday, with a pale tabby particularly in mind, and the face-to-face encounter with this tiny, fragile, cheeping creature clinched the deal.
So for the next seven weeks I will be known as 'Vanessa White Tabby' in the contacts of a lady in Leicester's phone. The pictures show the kitten's mum Nala, and I also met its granny, Daisy. Oh yes...the little thing is only 8 days old but already has that reassuring 'M' for 'Musson' on her head. ;) And a bonus white tummy.
|Mum Nala, working the black eyeliner!|
So the next job is of course to choose a name for the new ****** Bonkers. I have a few favourite contenders, but thought I would share the (still rather long!) shortlist with readers in case you could tip me one way or another with your own leanings - or indeed think of something completely new.
Truffle - combines confectionery with a 'riffling through fur' kind of term. A friend also pointed out that it would work well 'shouted in anger'.
Salome - ancestral name (see earlier post)
Shimna - a favourite river in Northern Ireland, in which I would like my ashes scattered one day.
Floozy - suggested by Tara, and makes me smile every time I say it. Could easily be shouted in anger, say if the kitten persists in having her legs in the air (scroll down...!).
Crumpet / Trollop - variants of Floozy ;)
Moth - I just like the delicate flutteriness of this one, plus there will hopefully be a future launch by Papillon called 'White Moth'.
Tilde - kitten has wiggly lines on the side of her head. Also sounds reminiscent of Tilda Swinton, who is no bad role model. Here is my rather whimsical review of Like This!
Sable - the epitome of furry luxury
Cinta - Indonesian for love, and a shortened form of the Spanish Jacinta, meaning hyacinth. It is also a variant of the Spanish for Cynthia (and the kitten looks like a bit of a madam all right!). Finally, there is a cute tiger cub in London Zoo of this name. Pronounced 'Ceenta'.
Pernod - the kitten's fur is currently the same sort of milky/cloudy colour, plus the name contains a homonym of 'purr'.
Latte - as above, and sounds like 'catty'.
|What is she like?!?!|
Mizzle / Wevet / Dimpse - it's a Farrow & Ball thing...;)
Marble - her markings looks a bit like one?
Shale - evokes the idea of geological striations, but with unfortunate connotations of fracking!
Tilly / Viola / Ruby / Fleur / Plum / Bronte / Prudence - pretty retro names
Cognac - her mum and granny have quite rich brown tabby markings, so with this one am aiming off for how her fur might develop.
Polenta - companion name to Lady Jane Grey's Couscous!
Baroness Chipolata von Currywurst(!) - suggested by a rather waggish friend, with a possible shortened form of 'Chippy'.
Hendricks / Sapphire / Tonic - gin related names - say no more!
Castell - Spanish name of a lady in Stafford who runs up curtains (as kittens are wont to do, though I very much hope this one won't).
Allegra - Milton, anyone? (Slightly adapted, admittedly.)
Poubelle - French for bin. A friend in France observed: 'Cats are rubbish!'
Nougat, Praline, Topic, Flake, Wispa - more confectionery names that I mostly like for no particular reason.
Do any of those names appeal to you? Any other ideas? I would love your input!
|You will look after her, won't you?|
UPDATE: Couldn't resist checking the original ad where I found the kitten, and not surprisingly, her boldly striped littermate has also found an owner! ;)
NB Proper perfume posts will resume next time!