Kissing Them Good-Bye
The Seventh Save of Christmas 2017: The Aby Brothers
Kissing them Good-Bye
All I knew about Milo and Rudy was that they came from the home of a woman who was too ill to care for her cats anymore and needed us to find homes for them. I had no previous experience of Abyssinian cats—was unaware that they are part Tazmanian love devils, part furry toddlers, and part furry monkeys. These two, at least, had to be some of the most loving, intelligent, and family-oriented kitties I have ever had the pleasure to know.
Every morning, as soon as I let them out of their room, they wanted to be in my arms or my lap and to love on me. They would nibble on me, groom my hair, or warble to me to show their love. Hence Tazmanian Love Devils.
Then Milo would go into my parents’ room to “help” in getting them ready for the day. While either of them was showering, he would stand guard outside the shower to make sure nothing happened to them, occasionally having to check that the water temp was not too hot. Then it was on to supervising that they brushed their teeth and hair just right. Then he’d my dad get his socks on, by chewing on his toes.
At the same time, Rudy was making sure I got ready safely enough.
When that was done, it was downstairs to have breakfast and see what mischief could be achieved during that day. They always wanted be near each other or near us. You had to watch your footsteps, because you never knew when one or both would be right behind you. And they had no fear of loud machines. If you had to vacuum, they would be chasing the cord. Loading the dishwasher entailed their sitting on the door to inspect your job. If you were cooking, they would be on the supervisor’s chair or, if they couldn’t contain themselves, on the counter to try and steal that delicious-smelling food. Folding clothes meant having to check to make sure that no one had crawled into the dryer to take a nap. I couldn’t read or play around on my cell phone without Rudy pushing his way in; he thought a far better use of my time was to pet and snuggle with him. If I watched a movie or a TV show, I typically had Milo perched behind me, watching along with me.
Like toddlers, these two could get into mischief, but you could never stay mad at them. They were slim enough to fit into any place you didn’t want them to be. Any new room you entered they had to explore top to bottom. They would get into the closets or on top of shelves or bookcases, or on top of desks or tables, or behind the entertainment unit. These exploits often entailed knocking books or any cute bric-a-brac off the shelves, nosing behind framed photographs and making them totter. Sending lotions and toiletries crashing to the ground. Dragging my dad’s silk ties around because they made such a great toys. Small as they were, these lively boys could even hop onto the freezer and throw the cat carriers off. As with toddlers, you would get upset for a moment but had to forgive them in the end, because they were so cute and just kittens, after all.
Getting into mischief is how the monkey part came into play. Rudy loved my bed, and in particular the headboard. Instead of jumping from the floor to the bed, he would jump on a chair, to the desk, to the headboard and walk the tightrope mewing until I noticed him. Then he would jump to the nightstand and curve around the bed frame until he was on the bed with me. (This meant my lotions and books were in danger.) And while he was on the headboard, I could see the wheels turning in his head: could he manage to grab the fan cords to play with, or better yet take a turn on that fan thing? If not the fan, then maybe–just maybe–he could manage the leap to the tops of bookshelves. As for his brother, Milo, he loved to scale up things, such as the cat condo. Why jump up to the top of the cat condo when you could scale up the side of it to reach the top? He also had incredibly long back legs that helped him reach into things that normal cats couldn’t.
Both brothers had a penchant for carrying things off in their mouths, so if you were missing pens or ribbons or cords, you knew to look in their room. They also liked to bring their toys down to wherever the family was hanging out so they could play with us. Did I mention smart beyond years? Rudy figured out, all on his own, how to use the pet door to get into the garage and taught his brother. Milo was great at playing those fish games on my phone, and when my ex called to talk, he knew which way to swipe to hang the call up. I was clicker training them before they got adopted.
Flies were their rightful prey. It was funny the day Milo figured it’s better to eat the fly right away than to play with it. Milo and Rudy both loved going after flies but didn’t have much success at catching them. Then came the day when Milo almost had his first fly but, while swatting at it, he managed to push it outside through the screen door. He kept mewing at me to get the fly for him, but I had to keep telling him, in between laughs, it was his own fault it got away. Last time he did that.
Besides the love they had for us, it was sweet to observe the incredible bond these two brothers had with each other. I’ve never had the pleasure to see a bond like this before; according to more experienced foster moms, this is what is called a “bonded pair.” I can understand now why we often insist that such pairs go home together. If Milo and Rudy hadn’t seen the other for a while, they would start trilling until they had located each other again. They ate together, played together, and slept together a lot of the time. Then there were moments when they had to beat on one another or wrestle– typical siblings–or when Milo caught Rudy in the condo and pushed him out, because he felt it was his, or licked all the gravy off his food fast so he could then get into Rudy’s bowl. The affection…I remember taking them to their vet checkup and looking over to see them touching paws together through the wire! It was the same if I had to cut their nails or give ear drops: the other brother would be right next to me, nose-kissing the brother being treated.
It was Milo who showed Rudy, that first night, that he could trust me. I had brought them home and set them up in their room but had only heard Rudy from wherever he was hiding. I came into the room late that night and got a glimpse of Rudy but not wanting to intimidate him, I sat down with my back to the room and let Milo approach. When Rudy saw that Milo was loving all the attention I was giving, he finally came out and let me pet him.
As hard as it was to have them for three months, because it meant I was attached to them and sorry to see them go, it was good too. Those precious weeks gave Rudy the chance to gain confidence in humans and become the confident cat I knew was hiding in there all along. By the time he went to his forever home, it wasn’t his meows that told me where he was, but his incredibly loud purr. It was hard to believe that such a small kitty could produce that loud purr, but he did it when he snuggled in my arms or even while grooming himself in the middle of the room. Those same weeks also helped Milo grow more confident around people, even with small kids.
Now Rudy and Milo are in a wonderful home where they will be the couple’s only fur kids, spoiled with love and attention. They are, according to reports, settling in nicely. They have a window perch that looks out into the backyard, for nature watching. There might even be RV adventures to look forward to. It is someone else’s turn to enjoy the antics of those Tasmanian love devils.
But the house is quiet now. Rudy eventually became a real snuggler. I still miss how he loved finding me in bed watching TV or on the couch, because that meant he could have me to himself. How he’d flop on his back, and I would pet him until he was almost in a swoon…
The hardest part of fostering is kissing them goodbye.