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Smitten with kitten

Nobody can resist a kitten.

That was the hope, anyway, a few days before Father’s Day as I talked my offspring into a trip to the animal shelter.

We were doing it for their dad, I told them. He loved kittens. He needed a kitten. He would totally buy into the idea that we needed to add a kitten to our lives and not think I was totally nuts.

Granted, my spouse does have a weakness for the little furballs, and we didn’t have much in the way of Father’s Day gifts. Really, though, I just wanted something new in our lives. Something happy that didn’t have to do with viruses or violence or anxiety about the future.

The good folks at the shelter watched in amusement as the kids and I spent the better part of an hour deciding which of the mewing darlings wanted to come home with us. Finally, a tiny tabby with alien-gray eyes told us she was ours, and Mavis officially joined the family.

(If you don’t like her name, for heaven’s sake, don’t tell me. It took us three more hours of negotiations to arrive at it).

I needn’t have worried about the spouse. He was as bewitched by the miniature cat as the rest of us.

The cheerful little squirt instantly took charge of the household.

Perched jauntily on a shoulder or curled with devastating sweetness on a lap, clonking around the rungs of a chair in pursuit of the enticing tip of her own tail, prancing on a keyboard or pouncing on a stack of mail, Mavis has managed to wrap us all around her tiny paw, turning five grown humans into a group of cooing, “aaawww”-ing, utterly smitten kitten fans.

Two-thirds of our other pets are, if not equally fond of Mavis, at least content to welcome her to the family.

Elroy, our boy cat who loves me ferociously, barely notices the kitten, intent as he is on claiming first place as my snuggle buddy.

Tucker — our large, mostly blind, affable dog — watches patiently while Mavis launches joyous attacks on his paws and snout, despite Tucker being about 200 times her size.

Our other cat, on the other hand, isn’t so charmed.

For several years the darling of the house, Amber was suddenly not the youngest, or the smallest, or — don’t tell her I said this — the cutest.

Evidently feeling every ounce of the indignity of being replaced as the favorite, Amber offers Mavis nothing more than a haughty hiss, sometimes followed by a low growl or a swat on the head when the kitten dares to get too close.

Mavis, though, doesn’t take no for an answer.

Laughably small in comparison to her full-sized adopted sister, the kitten pursues Amber time and time again, trying to be friends.

Even a whap on the head seems to only encourage the little sprite, who stalks the bigger cat, hoping for a playmate, eyes Amber’s flicking tail for a pounce, and, when Amber flees, chases her down to the basement, sometimes tumbling down several steps but picking herself up again good-naturedly and trotting after her intended target.

It’s only a matter of time, we humans agree.

Unyieldingly gumbly as she may be, Amber’s eventually going to give in and let Mavis into her life.

How could she not?

After all, nobody can resist a kitten.

****

Resolute grumpiness. I can identify with that more than I care to admit.

Too often, I catch myself sulking about in a snit, feeling very much put-upon by life and finding offense around every corner, determined to stay unhappy whatever the cost.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? There’s so much good in the world, so many reasons to be grateful, so many people about us who need us to come out of our self-absorbed funks long enough to notice them.

That grumpy place, though, can be hard to walk away from. With a hiss at my imagined opponents and a growl at life in general, I stalk off, holding on tightly to unhappiness as my right and my consolation.

It’s just weird. A foolish decision, determined negativity is.

Cats and humans — not always the most logical creatures.

In the middle of my self-imposed gloominess, a kitten of joy is batting at my tail.

I don’t get why God chooses to keep loving us, stubborn and ridiculous beings that we are. But, He does. Back and back and back He comes, heedless of our growls and obstinate resolve to not be happy, not be loved, not let the life He’s given us be adequate.

We hiss. He says I love you.

We glare. He says I want you.

We reject. He says I died for you.

It would be so much more sensible to give in, to revel in being absolutely accepted as-is and to roll in gratitude for ice cream cones and birdsong and new starts and kind eyes and challenges that make us stronger.

Think we’re going to do that?

Once in a while, maybe, when nobody’s looking.

But, mostly, because we’re silly, we’re still going to get grumpy and say there ain’t nothing anybody can do about it.

And the One who loves us each a trillion more times than we deserve will keep coming back, ignoring our growls, offering joy, and inviting us to love Him back.

You have to admit, it’s pretty irresistible.

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