I’ve become used to scratches on my body that I can’t explain. When you have two five-month-old kittens running around your house, you tend to lose track of how or when you were clawed, poked or downright stabbed with their baby razor claws.

Right now, I have a perfect paw imprint of claw marks on my chest after I frightened one of the kittens by plopping onto the couch while holding him. Despite my firm grip, the brief five-inch freefall terrified him, sending him scrambling to get away from me as quickly and violently as possible.

After several years of careful consideration, my husband and I have become paw-rents. We recently adopted two four-month-old kittens from a local animal rescue, and now share our home with Tigger and Chase.

Tigger is typically the more relaxed of the two kittens, but he still spooks every now and then. Chase, on the other hand, is perpetually terrified. She likes to have her space. When she wants attention, she will come over to have her love and cuddles, but if you happen to see her sitting quietly and reach out a hand to pet her? No way. She will sprint across the house to avoid being stroked by your well-intentioned digits.

Chase got her name because she was found alone in the parking lot of a Chase Bank in Benicia. She was only about a month old, but there was no mama or siblings in sight. The volunteers at the animal rescue we adopted her from have no idea how long she was on her own and attribute her shy behavior to her likely abandonment.

In the past month, my husband and I have made a lot of progress with Chase, but she’s still very wary. When she is feeling safest, she will climb onto my chest and lick my forehead before finding a sweet spot to take a quick nap. While Tigger can fall asleep anywhere, Chase is always alert and rarely catnaps for long.

I carry Tigger around the house like a baby, but Chase doesn’t like to be picked up. Each morning we do a practice hug, where I pick her up for a few seconds, give her a small squeeze and set her down. She walks across my lap and purrs appreciatively, but she still has to be the one to make first contact. Sometimes I have to point out to Chuck when Chase is lingering by him and ask him to stop what he is doing to give her a light scratch behind the ears. These moments are precious, and I know it will take time to build a rapport with her where she feels completely safe and trusts us.

Granted, we have some setbacks every now and then. We invited the fur babies’ grandparents over for a meet and greet, and while Tigger loved meeting new people, Chase hid most of the time. As she cautiously made her way to living room, she spotted my in-laws and went running for the kitchen, where she managed to shove herself through a small hole in the baseboards and took refuge in a space under a cabinet.

My husband and I hadn’t planned on doing any kitchen remodeling, but several trips were made to the hardware store to collect the tools and materials needed to open up the hole to extract Chase and then plug the space up properly. When I’d put a piece of duct tape over the hole when we first brought them home, I hadn’t calculated what might happen if a five-pound kitten went running at the space at full speed. Lesson learned.

Chuck and I have made a lot of adjustments to our routine since bringing the kittens into our lives, but I have to admit, even with the stresses and the scratches, we seem to smile and laugh more easily with them in the house.

When I come home at night, I see the silhouette of Chase in her favorite spot in the front window, and it warms my heart instantly. When I walk into the house, Tigger and Chase are typically nearby waiting to greet me. It gives coming home a whole new meaning.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.


Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.