Yesterday marked 3 weeks since we last saw him. We have no doubt he made it to shore but I can’t lie and say that I don’t wish I knew for sure. It is hard to believe, and hurts my feelings a little, he wouldn’t want to come back to us, too. I guess you have to know Dexter to know that he just might be in his element out there.
For those that don’t know Dexter’s story, he was 1 of 4 born to LK (Little Kitty) on or about 3/21/08. I thought she was merely a well fed feral until she showed up looking very skinny. I knew we had a problem. So I began feeding her wet food and lots of it to make sure her kitten(s) had lots of milk to grow strong and healthy. Well, it worked AND she brought her babies to the woodpile on the back porch at about 5 weeks old so they could have some of the good eats. I know it doesn’t sound very nice of me but I did catch them (all 4) and began taking care of them. There was Sassy (she bit the crap out of my finger), Socks, Sophie and, well, we never really got to name the 4th one because he ran away (who knew kittens could run that fast!). Honestly, that should have been the first clue of what was to come. Everyone told me he was a lost cause…that his mother would never take him back. Well, the next day I saw the 2 together and, no surprise, she wouldn’t bring him back around. I continued to feed her well hoping to both change her mind and make sure she was still producing milk. In the meantime, the trio were doing well and we plotted to catch #4. After a few weeks (around week 8) we knew we couldn’t wait any longer. LK needed to be spayed, though we didn’t like the idea of the one kitten holdout being out there alone. We trapped her and sent her to the clinic. We got her back that night with the plan to let her recover in the garage for a couple of days. We didn’t want her stitches breaking with a 9 week old kitten suckling her. It ended up not being a problem after all. It was a quiet, warm night and I was watching tv in the den when I heard something. I muted the tv and heard very loud, determined meowing (and it wasn’t LK in the garage). I went to the front door and there was an angry fur-ball calling for his dinner! Jay played the master trapper and caught that little spitfire. At that point we called him Quattro. He had little to nothing to do with me, no shock, but also little to do with his siblings. They would play and he was all business. I guess that extra 4 weeks in the real world can harden a kitten. It took him a LONG time to come around even to like petting. I like to think that it was during this time that we began bonding.
12 weeks and everyone was fixed and ready for adoption. 13…14…15…this was NOT looking good and I just didn’t know what I would do with 4 kittens! Finally, some interest in Sassy, Socks and Sophie. They were all adopted within days of each other. Simba (Quattro’s new name) was still not as playful a kitten like his siblings…not mean but just more nervous around people. I felt so bad for him when he was the only one left. And the poor guy had a kitty cold to boot! That weekend Jay wanted to go for a sail so I said we must take Quattro (we still liked that name best) so I could give him his meds. He instantly took to the boat. He wasn’t afraid of the engine and he loved to climb around the boat…no fear! (clue #2). Jay and I both felt that, even though we weren’t in the market for a 3rd cat, you don’t often get a chance to “test sail” a kitten. So that is how Quattro became Simba became Quattro became Dexter (yes, Jay liked the show).
Unfortunately Dexter really only got a few months on the boat.
That fall we decided to sell INDIGO. We pulled her out of the water in November and she sold in January. We didn’t get the next boat, MINX, until October. I’m afraid Dexter might have forgotten more than he ever knew about sailing in that time. Lets just say that he wasn’t the carefree kitten on the boat that fall that he had been the previous year. Or maybe this engine was just louder. Who knows! Eventually he got his sea legs back and we enjoyed a summer in Annapolis and this past summer in RI, with lots of fun trips in between. Yes, he had gone for a swim early in 2010 so at least we know he can swim! He does love to roam the docks and especially loves tall powerboats!
Some wonderful tidbits about Dexter:
- his unofficial middle name is Troublemaker. Enough said.
- on night watch he wedges himself under the chartplotter and helps us navigate.
- he enjoys playing fetch and even taught Marmalade how to play!
- as soon as the boat goes from sail to motor he runs out into the cockpit to see where we are this time
- you call him and he talks back. While not a good trait in a child, it is adorable in a cat!
- One of his favorite things to do is roll around scratching his back on the textured, warm deck of the boat
- though sadly maybe due to his strange relationship with his mother (we think she breast feed him much later than normal), he loves to knead and suckle your shirt.
- when he decides he should be fed, he doesn’t just figure-eight around your legs. He leans his entire 16 lbs into you. He has nearly knocked me down several times.
- he loves to sit on top of the hatches and show off his “junk”
- And so many other things….
Dexter, we miss you so. We haven’t given up. There are posters up and everyone on the island is looking for you. Please come home.