Name our kitten!

Spook’s untimely passing opened up a slot for one more barn cat, so we started shopping around for a kitten in need.

Kittens, however, are a lot like donuts; it’s hard to stop at just one. And two weeks ago, I carted home a pair.

Much to Martin’s dismay, the little fur balls are rocketing around his office for the next few months, until they’re big enough to safely roam the barn and fend for themselves.

Cayden named the male kitten “Toulouse,” after one of the characters from the animated movie Aristocats. It’s a fitting name for a rambunctious black kitten who can’t wait to take on the world, one mouse at a time.

But we’ve struggled to name his orange sister. Martin’s suggestions were straight-up hideous (Tigger, Budda and Nala), while the kids’ selections were ill fitting of a shy female (Orangey and Charlie.)

This is where you come in, my loyal readers. What do you think we should call a rangy, big-eared, orange kitten who’s reserved but sweet?

To date, our cat names have wandered all over the map. From descriptive and direct — like Drippy and Old Kitty — to downright peculiar. Frog, for example, was named by a little girl who first cared for her in kittenhood, and longed for a pet frog.

Come on, readers — I know that you’re lurking out there — and I’m sure you’ll do better than “frog.” Post your suggestions in the comments section of this blog and I’ll select one and be forever in your debt. (Unless you’re local, in which case I’ll buy you a drink and we’ll call it even.)

Offer up a name, otherwise, this poor cat’s going to be called….well….Orange.

Finally Fixed

Three months have passed since we unsuccessfully launched operation kitten capture. Our plan was to sneak up on Felix, catch him and get him neutered. We never expected him to go quietly but with the element of surprise, we assumed he’d be easy pickings. Instead, he surprised us by forcing open the cat box door and fleeing the scene. Since then, I allotted us April, May and June to win back Felix’s trust.

Well, we never earned his trust but over time, he’s dropped his guard.

So just the other day Martin, the one-handed-bird-catcher, donned fire-retardant gloves, recalled Steve Irwin’s tips on croc wrestling, and pounced on an unsuspecting Felix, whose head was buried in a food dish.

Once he pinned Felix inside the crate, the trick was to remove his arm without letting the cat escape. On the count of three he extracted his hand while I slammed the carrier door and I drove Felix to the vet. He yowled all the way.

That afternoon I retrieved him. I set the cat box on the cool barn floor and unlatched the door. He slunk out, cast a dirty look over his shoulder, and streaked outside.

Well, I thought, that’s the last we see of you. At least you won’t leave a trail of kittens in your wake.

But since the big snip, Felix has turned a corner. He doesn’t bump up against our legs, but we can pet him and he’s joined the cat crew that accompanies us on dog walks.

I don’t think he’ll ever be as friendly as Spook, but he’s coming around.

Poor Spook

Our 5-year-old barn cats, Mel and Frog, are utterly phobic of cars. They scatter at the faintest hint of gravel crunching on the drive and they’d never deign to venture down to the road.

Unfortunately Spook, our once-wild cat, was not so wary.

On Saturday night he was hit by a car. The neighbors discovered him and brought him up to the house. But he was gone.

Spook had already been fed for the night and we’d seen him just a couple hours before. I never imagined that he’d head to the road since he didn’t venture far from the house. Maybe nocturnal hunting got the best of him.

We placed him underneath a pine tree, not far from where Drippy and Old Kitty are laid to rest.

Felix, who generally keeps his distance, sat nearby and watched us bury Spook. Afterward, he camped out on the fresh earth.

Poor Spook. That once feral beast had become our friendliest cat.