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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Smitten, not fooled by furry bundle of joy

I’m crazy about him.

I think about him all the time. When we’re apart I check my watch frequently, counting down the hours till he’s in my arms again. I’m constantly buying little gifts just to surprise him. Friends say he’s all I talk about.

His name is Milo. We adopted him two weeks ago, and I’m amazed at how wonderful it feels to have a baby in the house again. You’d think with four sons ages 19 to 9, the last thing I’d want is another boy. But when I picked Milo up, he sighed deeply and snuggled into my arms, and I was smitten.

“Uh oh,” said my husband, Derek. This newest addition, just like our other boys, is all his fault. Our 2-month-old fluffy ball of black and white fur might still be languishing in a cage if Derek hadn’t gone to PetSmart on an errand for his mother. The Humane Society was sponsoring a pet adoption weekend at the store. I’d talked about wanting a cat for quite awhile – a female. “It’d be nice to have another girl around the house,” I’d said.

With that in mind, Derek had spotted a year-old, elegant, blue-eyed, white cat. Like all pets at the event, she’d already been spayed and her immunizations were up to date. So, later that evening, we loaded the family in the van to take a look at her. She was indeed a lovely lady, but as I wandered down the double row of metal cages, a hyperactive kitty caught my eye. He was literally bouncing off the walls.

“My goodness!” I said. “This little guy needs Ritalin.” He jumped. He hopped. He spun in circles. In short, he was just like the rest of the boys in my house.

“No,” Derek said. “Not that one.” Even 9-year-old Sam seemed leery. “Too wild,” he pronounced.

I dutifully looked at the other cats, but I couldn’t help wondering if all Milo’s frantic activity was just a desperate plea for attention. “I want to hold him,” I said.

“Not a good idea,” Derek replied. But a store employee unlocked Milo’s cage. I picked him up, fully expecting him to squirm, or scratch, or climb up my hair, but instead he laid his head on my shoulder and sighed.

The boys each took a turn holding Milo, who seemed to relish the loving pats and soft murmurs. “OK, let’s put him back and cuddle some of these calmer cats,” Derek urged. But when I placed Milo back in his cage, he gave a piteous meow and reached his paw through the door.

“That’s it,” said 14-year-old Zack. “I’m bonded to this kitty. He’s the one for us.”

I stood in front of Milo’s cage and he stretched both paws out to me and cried. I looked at Derek. The boys looked at Derek. He sighed. “Who wants to help me pick out a bed for Milo?”

While they shopped for kitty supplies, I filled out the adoption paperwork. I signed more release forms for this cat than I did when my children were born.

At last we were able to take Milo (and $200 worth of accessories) home. Already, it seems like he’s always been part of our family. And while everyone loves him, Milo and I share a special bond – a bond that has some family members concerned.

One evening as I rocked him to sleep (Milo loves lullabies), his brothers sat on the couch across from us. “I get it,” Zack said. “You really just wanted another baby.”

“No, I didn’t,” I replied. Just then Milo woke and stretched and patted my cheek with his tiny paw. “Oh, there’s Mama’s biggity, biggity boy,” I crooned.

“She used to say that to me,” Sam observed.

“Yeah, well, you’re not the baby anymore,” 17-year-old Alex replied.

“I’m a big brother, though! I’ve never been a big brother before!”

“We are not his brothers. We’re his owners,” Zack clarified.

Derek walked into the room as Milo buried his face in my hair and began purring loudly. “I’m worried,” he announced. “I think you wanted a cat because Ethan moved out. When the next boy moves out, you’ll want another kitten. Soon, it’ll be just me and the lady with four cats.”

“And your point is?” I asked.

“Just tell me: Are you going to replace me with a cat?”

Everyone except Sam found it worrisome when I gave Milo a middle name. “How else will he know he’s in trouble?” Sam asked. “When Mom says, ‘Milo James, come here!’ he’ll know he’d better hurry.”

My sister-in-law reassured my husband. “Don’t be too concerned unless she starts dressing him up.”

Listen. Milo likes his itty bitty Mariners cap.

I may be besotted, but I’m not ignorant. I know what will happen. Kittens, like all babies, are a bundle of deceptive advertising. Soon Milo will be a teenager. He’ll ignore me when I walk into a room, unless he’s hungry, and he’ll show affection only when no one else is present.

But right now, he thinks I’m the cat’s meow. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. Previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/columnists.
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