Over the past few months, there were three kittens behind a restaurant where I often go. One of the restaurant employees adopted the first one when he came up to her months ago. I found out a few days ago that a gold-colored kitten was caught by some young women who adopted him weeks ago, too.
And then there was the elusive little gray tabby who I pursued for at least six or eight weeks. Nobody could touch him.
He was fast. He was smart. One of the kitchen employees wanted to take him home, but he couldn’t get close to him. For weeks, I couldn’t, either.
On Nov. 25, I finally got close enough to him — as he was hiding in a drainage culvert in the parking lot — to snap a photo of him. When I posted that picture on Facebook and explained that I had been trying to catch him, a friend in North Carolina suggested that I get a trap.
A week later, I was still trying to catch him with my haphazard schemes when my friend texted me to say she was sending me a trap. I couldn’t turn that down. She ended up buying one at a chain store with a location about two miles from the restaurant.
The next day, I picked up the trap and headed out to catch a cunning kitten.
The first trap didn’t work. He walked into the trap and started eating — with his paws firmly resting on the trigger plate. The trap simply didn’t work properly.
Fortunately, the bundle that my friend had gotten contained two traps. The smaller one worked. Roughly an hour after trapping started, I had an angry little gray tabby in a trap. If it hadn’t been for Susan, I wouldn’t have had the trap — and I might not’ve ever caught him. (You can see the first photo I got of him, as well as one of him in the trap, at the end of this article.)
But the little guy wasn’t through outsmarting me. When I got him home, I removed him from the trap and made a short video to introduce him to my Facebook friends. Then I went to put him into the large dog crate where he was going to live until I could get him to the vet.
He slipped out of my arms and escaped into a part of my house with a lot of junk that needs to be sorted (and probably thrown away). I was afraid to move too much around — for fear of hurting him.
For two days, he eluded me — inside my own house. I left the trap out again. After two days, he was finally hungry enough to get caught by the trap. And that’s when everything changed.
He made his first trip to the vet the next day. He’s only 4 pounds, but the vet estimates he’s at least 6 months old, possibly as old as 8 months. He’s going to be small.
Over the last week, he has slowly transformed himself from a scared stray into a loving and confident member of the family. Thomas isn’t thrilled about accepting him as a little brother. Lucy has mostly steered clear of him.
I finally named him Alex. It’s short for Alexander. He’s so confident that he seems like a little conqueror who’s come into the household to take over. It eventually seemed natural to name him for Alexander the Conqueror.
When I put Alex and Thomas together, Alex wants to reach out and embrace his big brother, but Thomas won’t allow much of that yet. And even though Lucy has mostly steered clear, they got close on my bed Tuesday evening — and Alex eventually pounced at her tail once.
A startled Lucy took off, not knowing what to do about the little banshee who was accosting her.
Most of the cats I’ve had over the last 15 years have been too feral to know how to play, but this cat is quickly picking up how to play. He’s amazing. He’s confident. And he’s come to be the new king.
I was already pursuing this little fellow well before I knew that Merlin’s death was imminent, but especially after Merlin died, I was very happy to welcome Alex. Thomas was upset to lose his only real friend when we lost Merlin, so I thought it would be good for him to have a new friend.
Alex has been with us for only 10 days, but it’s already starting to seem as though Alex might be the new king to replace the recently deceased king. He has the same air of royalty and confidence that always made Merlin special — so I like to think he’s continuing a tradition.
I hope that Thomas and Alex will soon be friends. I hope that Lucy will become comfortable playing with Alex and they’ll start napping together. But whether those things work out the way I want or not, we already have an amazing addition to the family.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a kitten or puppy in the household — and it feels very right. The confidence and rambunctiousness of youth is infectious.
I think Alex is going to be a good influence on all of us, including me. As I’ve said before, they rescue us just as much as we rescue them. It’s been a joy to have this little boy brighten up the house. I’ve needed him, even though I didn’t know it.
Welcome home, Alex.
Note: The first photo below is the first picture I was able to get of Alex, on Nov. 25. The next is from eight days later, Dec. 3, when I used a trap to catch him. The third photo is about a week later, when Alex spontaneously reached out to put a paw around his new big brother’s neck. You can see more photos of him on our Instagram page.