Chances are when you think of dangerous animals ... it's probably animals like these that spring most readily to mind:
| King Cobra: Click link for photo source|
Great White Shark: Click link for photo source
Bengal tiger: Click link for photo source
But you would be wrong.
The most dangerous animal known to man is minute in size compared to the Bengal tiger or great white shark, and far less fearsome in appearance than the king cobra. Most frightening of all, they live among us and are brilliant at camouflaging the danger they pose under a deceptively cute and fluffy exterior. Yes, friends, I tell you true. The most dangerous animal known to man is ...
Nova, adoptable through The Humane Society of Tampa Bay
No, your eyes do not deceive you. The picture above is, indeed, of a kitten!
For the record, no, I'm not delusional. I'm well aware that most people would not consider a tiny, sweet, essentially defenseless little kitten like Nova, above, dangerous in any way. The idea, in fact, that those tiny kitten claws and impossibly white little milk teeth could pose any danger is almost laughable. On the contrary ... the very fact of their defenselessness triggers the protective nature in even those humans who think they have been immunized against tiny, adorable little balls of purring fluff.
And that, my friends, is how they get you! (Or, at least, it is how three of them have gotten me in the past, and how one of them ALMOST got me tonight!) Here's the thing. I love puppies. I love absolutely everything about them, from the the tips of their curiously sniffing little noses to the tips of their waggling little tails. And puppy breath, as far as I am concerned, is the most delicious thing in the entire world. Why no parfumier has yet found a way to bottle and sell Eau de Puppy Breath remains a perennial mystery to me. They would make a fortune! And yet ... for my money, the kitten is the most perfect baby animal imaginable. Tiny, adorable, innocent, endlessly playful and inquisitive, and ... wait for it ... potty training is factory installed.
Any reasonably intelligent person knows that puppies are a lot of work. So when you're contemplating getting a puppy you know you're in for three or four months, minimum, of relentless vigilance, and even after that, it's not till the puppy/dog is about two years old, or thereabouts, that you can begin to relax a little. There is crate training, potty training, leash training, and basic obedience training to master, and as anyone who has ever successfully lived with a dog knows, training is ongoing, or can be, pretty much for the life of the dog.
A kitten on the other hand is a very different experience. You bring the kitten home, install the litter box and a cat tree/scratching post, show him where the food and water is, do some basic kitten-proofing, and that's about it. No waking up in the middle of the night to take the puppy out. No worrying about leash training or potty training or passing puppy kindergarten. Just the pure, unadulterated bliss of snuggling with a tiny, sweetly purring little fur creature.
Plus, who doesn't love the misplaced bravado of a kitten? That oh-so-ferocious-sounding hiss, the comically arched back and the little spike of fluffed up tail they exhibit when they're startled. Delicious!
It isn't until about six months later, in fact, that the honeymoon ends. Overnight, it seems, the halo atop your little angel's head seems to be tarnishing a bit. They start being able to jump higher and pretty soon they're peering smugly down at you from all sorts of precarious positions, leaving you in constant fear that they'll break their neck, a leg, or something equally irreplaceable. No possession, no matter how high up or seemingly secure, is truly safe. And this anti-honeymoon lasts, I am here to tell you from experience times 3, for a very long time. Far longer, certainly, than the all-too-fleeting weeks or months of kittenhood.
By then, of course, all is lost. Said kitten-turned-cat owns you, heart and soul, and no matter what they do, or what priceless heirlooms they may destroy, (fortunately for me, I don't have any of those) you remain just as devoted to them as you were when they were small.
Finn, for example, by far the most mischievous of the three cats, has, in his slightly less than two years of life, broken three lamps and my favorite picture frame, and that's just off the top of my head. The path of destruction he has cut through my home rivals that of a natural disaster. And yet ... I couldn't possibly love him more. As I recently said to our long-suffering pet sitter, so long as he doesn't break his neck or a leg, I could honestly not care less what else he happens to destroy. But even the ongoing anti-honeymoon with Finn has not knocked any sense into me, it seems.
Tonight, I was at Petco, picking up some treats for the pups, and while waiting at the register, my attention was caught by a little white paw waving frantically out at me from a nearby cage (a local rescue had some kittens placed there for adoption), so of course I wandered over to say hello. As I stood cooing at the little gray and white kitten to whom the paw belonged, I was joined by a man. We got to talking, and I learned that he had a cat and dog at home, but had just lost another of his cats, who he'd had for eleven years. He asked me whether I was considering adopting the kitten I was fawning over, and I immediately said no, that I had three cats and two dogs at home, but I'll confess ... inside, I was wavering. Quite frankly, the two female kittens (one tortie and one very unusually marked tabby with lots of white), were far more striking to look at, but the little gray and white guy had some serious personality, and I could feel myself growing weaker by the second. I was falling under the spell that all kittens seem so adept at weaving.
Fortunately, I was able to talk some sense into myself just in the nick of time. As I stood talking to this nice man about whether he ought to follow his instincts and adopt one of these adorable kittens to help fill the hole in his home left by the cat he had recently lost an employee approached to ask me if I'd like to take Mr. Personality out of the cage to get better acquainted. I said no, through gritted teeth, and can only hope that the little guy who so captivated me earlier this evening will be sleeping in a new home before too many more nights have passed. With a personality like his, I feel sure that he will be.
Meanwhile, this little cutie:
is sleeping in HER new home TONIGHT! Formerly Layla, now rechristened Nutmeg by her new dad, she has found a new home for the holidays, and hopefully for the rest of her life, regardless of what havoc she may wreak when that factory-installed kitten halo begins to tarnish, as it inevitably will.
So yes, I may have narrowly escaped the clutches of this most dangerous of all creatures, but another of my fellow humans was not so fortunate. I wish Nutmeg and her new dad much happiness together, but I have to admit, as I sit here on my sofa watching Finn size up the fireplace mantel and the matched set of potted topiaries thereon that he has previously left unmolested but which all of a sudden seem to have become as riveting as though they were comprised of equal parts catnip and tuna, a tiny part of me can't help but think ...
WHAT A SUCKER!
WHAT A SUCKER!