I don’t know how old scrawny little Miko was when I’d first met her. But she was all eyes, with little else other than the tiny pricks at the end of her paws:
Interesting fact: Apparently all kittens are born with blue eyes – most of their eyes change colour as they mature. Miko’s have long since turned green.
Miko was an orphaned kitten at the Humane Society, where I had volunteered a few summers back. She was in a cage by herself by the time I became more familiar with her and could pick her out from the cages and cages of kittens. All her littermates had died, leaving her the only one left.
For a kitten who had no mum to clean her up, Miko kept herself pretty clean. Most kittens her size trampled through their food and litter alike, making them cakey bundles of… mess. Their fur was caked and spiky from dried wet food and they usually had poop stuck to their fur around their bums. You probably could have gone without knowing that. I have never seen little kittens groom themselves or each other, so I guess it’s something they do as they mature and cleanliness becomes second nature.
Miko’s fur had comparatively little stuff to comb out, and few snags. She wasn’t as clean as she is now, but I noticed that she kept her food and litterbox distinctly separate. She never overturned her wet food, and spilled little of the dry. She always used the litterbox (some other kittens pooped in the food – ew) and she napped outside of it. Despite the small confines of her cage, she managed to keep herself clean and soft enough.
Back then, she was small enough to fit in my hand. I would spend extra time at the shelter combing through her fur. There were little bits of dried stuff stuck between her claws, which she didn’t yet know how to clean out. Because she was so small, once in a while I’d bathe her in one of the larger food dishes in warm water with pet shampoo. I think she genuinely enjoyed the grooming sessions, as she clambered from the towel on my lap up to my shoulder and nestled there to take a nap.
She didn’t trust much, this one. Whenever Miko was lifted out of her cage and her paws left solid ground, out came all claws on all paws as she squealed in terror and tried to secure herself in your hand. Via her claws. Other kittens were placid and went limp when you picked them up. Most kittens do go limp when momma cat picks them up. Miko tensed up rigidly, frantically seeking a purchase any way she could.
A girl at a vet office once told me that when choosing a kitten, you know that it will grow to have a good temperament and be friendly if you can put your hand under its front and hind paw on one side and turn it over onto its belly. Miko refused to be turned over. She was set on firmly having all four paws planted in the ground.
Miko has not grown to be overly friendly cat. But she is affectionate in her own way. Her coat is now sleek and soft, and she obsesses about keeping it neat. She will groom herself after you touch her – as if you’d messed up her ‘do. Miko had also gone through a number of personality changes as she grew. Sometimes she’s a real pain in the butt. But either way, she’s cute (and she probably knows it), and I can never stay angry at her for long. Most of the time it’s just a suppressed sigh, and then I get over it.
All grown up now, in body if not in spirit, on the towel I brought her home in.