Happy 1st Birthday Evan!

Happy 1st Birthday Evan!

Today (August 9 2017), I am celebrating Evan’s first birthday! When I think about how my little Evan began his life, probably in a barn and experiencing a horrendous car ride to his Foster Mom’s where she found him covered in vomit from the car ride, I am so grateful to the people at Ninth Life Cat Rescue for the love and support they gave to him during his first few weeks of life. Their love and support is part of who he is today – extremely confident, grateful, loving, affectionate, playful and a curious adventurer/daredevil who makes everyone’s day- human or fur- happy, loving, and entertaining (minus a few hair raising experiences!).

I first saw 2 month old Evan perched comfortably on a cat tree at Pet Smart. He was observing the “play” happening below him, and deciding which group to join. I loved his confident, chilled out manner, and when he joined a couple of playful cats, he showed me that he could be the life of the party or he could decide just to have his privacy and chill. He was a happy chappy, with his own mind and ideas- he was his own cat! I liked that, and I and thought he would be a great match for my other newly adopted, shy, but friendly, 6 month old black cat, Simon. Simon, who came from another rescue, grew up without a mother, and after a month, I realized that Simon needed a little buddy who he could play with, love and who might show him a thing or two!

In fact, I kept Evan’s name. Of all the Evan’s I know ( and I am a teacher, so I know a few), Evan fit the “Evan” image. Sweet, innocent, charming…but under all of that charm, you often found a little monkey under there! This became apparent within the first few days…I didn’t do the introduction to cats the way you should, not because I was purposeful, I just didn’t know any better! I had Evan in a puppy pen in the middle of the loft, separated from Simon for a couple of days. I thought that since they were both kittens, Simon would be a lot more open and accepting of a new cat, which he was. Simon was so excited, he kept circling the pen because he wanted to play and meet his little brother in person!

Evan, on the other hand, was a little shy and kept in his box while he was getting use to his new home. Unbeknownst to both of us at the time, Evan was not feeling well at all! Because Simon never had a mom, he never learned how to climb, so I was pretty confident that Evan was safe. I didn’t, however, anticipate how much a little kitten could learn from his own barn cat mom about climbing in such a short time! I guess having a barn as a playground can help every kitten to hone its skill, and it certainly seemed to help Evan to become the expert “climber” he is today!

Within a few days, I found out that Evan was not well, and thanks to the guidance of Laurie and his vet, I was able to learn how to give him pain medicine, eye drops for infection, and all kinds of pills. This was overwhelming for me because except for a fish and a guinea pig, I had never had a pet in my life! Thankfully, Evan was an angel, and helped to guide me. He gave me the confidence to do this by sitting patiently and quietly on the table, and with the cue of the pill popper or eye dropper, he knew exactly when to tilt his little head backwards for me – no scratching, no hissing, no crying. He was a brave gentle soul, and always beside him at the table, looking on was big brother Simon – supervising me with hawk eyes to make sure that I wasn’t hurting Evan. One day my dad – who said he didn’t like cats – witnessed the event. He was in awe of Evan, and I think it was from that day on that my Dad gained such an affection for his little “fur grandson!”

One of the hardest parts of the first week, with Evan being sick and introducing him to Simon, was that I had begun limited, supervised play. Simon was desperate to play and be with Evan, but because he was so much bigger, and Evan was unwell, he sometimes got a little “rough”, so I had to keep them separated with Evan in the pen most of the time. They both were nosing and meowing at the pen gates and this was heart breaking to watch two kittens who really wanted to be together, but had to be separated due to health reasons that they wouldn’t understand!

By about day 3, I left the house for a few minutes, confident that I didn’t need to keep Simon in the bedroom while I was gone, like I usually did. I knew that Simon wouldn’t hurt Evan and that he also couldn’t climb into the pen. I knew that all would be good…so I left!

But, when I got back, 15 minutes later, what did I see? Simon lying on the seat of an arm chair and Evan chilling out beside him waiting for me to get home. When I entered the door, they both looked at me, like, great you’re home..we have been waiting for you… we are hungry…what’s for dinner?

I knew right then, that the pen was useless and that the $100 I had spent to keep Evan “contained” was a waste of money! This little guy was his own cat, and he as going to roam where he was going to roam! So, Evan wasn’t so innocent after all..and thus this was the beginning of using one of Evan’s many nick names – Monkey Man, Bubba, Boo Boo and Pumpkin Boy, depending on what he gets up to that day!

In the past ten months since being Evan’s Guardian, I have been blessed with many joys and a few scary moments! Sadly, he and Simon have both been diagnosed with the Korona Virus (not sure of the spelling),so they can never interact with other cats in case they pass it on. They will always be on a specialized gastro diet, probiotics, and their stress levels need to be monitored in order to keep their tummies calm, so the virus isn’t triggered. Believe me, a month of vomit and blood on stools was not fun for any of us, especially over the Christmas holidays! This along with taking horrible medicine that made them both froth at the mouth twice a day and cry was heart breaking to see them go through. But we made it through, and we are all a little family and in this in this together. They keep me remembering to focus on the joy that they bring into everyone’s lives.

One joy, for example, was the first “behaviour” I attempted to modify: Evan’s “love” of climbing the screen on my sliding door. Simple, you say- keep the glass door closed, but why should I when I love fresh air? I shouldn’t have to change my ways as the cat owner, right? It’s my home, is it not? The cats will simply have to learn what is appropriate in their new home, right?

Evan’s screen climbing habit mostly happened when he and Simon would chase each other during play. They would race around like mad, wrestling, dodging furniture, hiding and pouncing on each other, and eventually Evan would end up jumping onto the arm chair (that was directly across from the screen door), and then he would propel himself forward and land midway up the screen, where he would then proceed to climb all the way to the top, look down at Simon and declare the game over!

I was getting quite upset about this because I was trying to write report cards and they were making a lot of racket. Also, his nails kept making the screen holes get bigger and bigger! Something would have to change- I couldn’t afford to keep buying screen doors every time Evan ruined them! I tried everything from squirting water bottles, clapping my hands and shaking coins in a jar…nothing deterred this determined and persistent little Monkey Man! One day, I read that about hissing like the momma cats do when they are getting fed up with their kitten’s bad behaviour. I had nothing to lose: just a broken screen door!

So, when the next playtime madness erupted, I waited until Evan was at the top of the screen, and then I hissed at him. He froze. He stared at me and didn’t know what to do. Simon was at the bottom of the door- staring at me, and then at Evan. Evan couldn’t get down like he normally could. Simon started to get upset. He was trying to reach Evan by standing on his hind legs and stretching with his two front paws as far as he could reach, but he couldn’t reach him. Evan stayed there like a statue glued to my screen door. What had I done to my little Evan? I felt terrible, and meanwhile, Simon was starting to meow in distress at him, urging him to come down. I finally walked towards the screen, and Evan’s eyes widened in terror. Oh no! I had terrified my little Evan. He was stiff as a board when I tried to pry him off the screen. He was terrified he was going to get into big trouble, and I had to coax him that everything was going to be alright!

I felt awful that I had scared him and upset Simon! When I had Evan in my arms, I gave him a huge hug and apologized profusely giving him lots of kisses and cuddles. In return, he kept head butting me as if to say he was so sorry too! This was another event that helped me to learn more about my little boy and part of who Evan was- he might be a little Monkey Man, but he also hates upsetting people. Even to this day, when Evan thinks he has upset someone, he always apologizes with a head butt and leg rub – he is super sensitive and intuitive, especially with humans!

Have I “modified” Evan”s climbing? Nope. We had to put our Christmas tree outside on the balcony looking into my living room. And when Evan sees squirrels, you can bet he will still climb the screen to get a closer look..My holes are getting bigger… Simon still waits patiently at the bottom until he comes down..but this happens less and less as Evan is growing up and can contain his excitement a little more. One day, I might miss what I call “Evan’s ADD impulsive moments” so I listened to what a wise cat owner once told me, “enjoy them while they are young, they aren’t like this for long.” I can always buy screen doors.

So I will let it bring joy to me now while he is still young and now healthy – especially when I think back over this first year, and how sick Evan has been – his terrifying trip to the ER when we were all up all night, Simon at his guard, and when Evan was so weak, lethargic and kept purring in order to soothe himself. Evan has taught me so much over his first year, and there is so much to celebrate – don’t sweat the little things; live in the moment; live and connect with everyone and everything; be determined and persistent when you want something, and oh- have a lot of fun and laughter along the way! So, when Evan climbs on my screen, climbs on my swinging bath door, climbs on my furniture, climbs on top of my cupboards, and climbs on my half wall of my loft and peers over the edge 18 feet below to where I am sitting on my sofa freaking out because I worry that he might fall off, Evan isn’t being naughty.. he is just being authentic Evan..barn cat /climber /loving charmer/ genuine “apologizer”, daredevil extraordinaire… and if this first year has been a ride – I can’t wait to see what he brings to me in the next 20 years!

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1 Comment on "Happy 1st Birthday Evan!"

  • Lori Waters says

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jacqueline! I shared this with all the volunteers who knew Evan as well. So glad you found each other!

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