It all started at the little red feed store where I've been buying eggs. A cozy little place, they offer a variety of items: raw local honey, pet toys, animal feed, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and locally-raised duck and chicken eggs. They also have a big box inside with chicks basking under a warming light...and a crate bearing the sign" Free Kittens." Ben didn't notice the sign - which was a great relief to me at the time - but he did notice a certain black and white kitten. "Mom, she likes me!" he beamed. I smiled at him, and we said goodbye to the cat and went on our way. I had no intention of adding more mouths to our household any time soon.
But he didn't forget about that kitten. Ben began planning and plotting. He was going to save up his money - money he had been planning to use to in the arcade the next time we visited our favorite pizza parlor - to buy it and bring it home. I kept putting him off "That's something we'd have to talk with Daddy about, sweetheart..." and the conversation never seemed to happen. We went back to the store the next week, and the kitten was still there. And Benjamin's dreams kept growing.
After the children were in bed at night, my husband and I talked it over. We never outright considered a cat, but we were sort of skirting around it. It was a flirtation, yet one we never expected to go anywhere.
But the other morning our conversation picked up momentum, and before we knew it, we were seriously discussing it. Should I call to see if the cat was even still there? Where would we put the litterbox? When might we go pick the cat up?
We stared at one another. "Are we seriously considering this?" we asked each other. We'd been pet-free for just a little over a year, after keeping two older cats the entire 13 years of our marriage. It had been a welcome change, both financially and in terms of home maintenance. But maybe...just maybe, it was time.
Yes, we had a baby. Yes, we had a toddler. But Elise would be toddling soon, too, God alone knows if or when a baby might join our family. Maybe there would never be a perfect time. And the thought of our kids' shining eyes, how much they would love a kitten - it drew us.
So I called the red store. And...the black-and-white kitten was gone.
My heart sank. I'd even begun to think of it as "Oreo."
When I informed my husband, we were both quiet for a few minutes. Then, it became evident that as we'd both turned our thoughts toward introducing a cat to our household, our own excitement had quickened. We even began to discussing the possibility of two kittens instead of one. In the end, Jeff found another country store with some kittens who needed a home. And so, that afternoon we loaded up the van and drove out as a family to meet them.
We didn't tell the boys where we were going - in case the kittens were already claimed when we arrived. It was just a surprise destination...an adventure. And even after we found the kittens sleeping in their cage, the children still had no idea that they'd actually be coming home with us.
As our family walked to the counter to inquire, Kyle spotted a small sign attached to their cage. "Children left unattended will be given a free kitten." His eyes grew large, and his step quickened. A free kitten! Could it be true?
And so, it was. Despite the fact that our little ones were not left unattended, we left the country store yesterday afternoon with not one, but two free kittens. Two gray, furry, blue-eyed little ladies have come home to join our household. They're a barrel of fun, and have already given us plenty of smiles.
I have the distinct feeling that this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.