By the time our kitten, a spirited, cream colored Tom dubbed "Parker," was twelve weeks of age, my husband and I decided that now might be the perfect time to present him with a playmate. However, while it might sound as if this decision was made with Parker's best interests in mind, in reality, our motives were purely selfish. You see, although Parker could, at times, be very affectionate, he was also displaying behavior that distressed us. Let me put it this way; at one point my arms were so full of scratch marks that a friend asked if my new pet was a mountain lion!
Later, during one of Parker's checkups, I asked our vet where I might find another cat. Well, it just so happened that someone had recently deposited a litter of orphaned baby kittens at her office door. While two were already spoken for, there was a little multicolored female who was looking for a set of parents. So, with the blessing of my husband, we planned to welcome the new kitty, whom I named "Gwendolyn," into our home as soon as she was old enough to get a clean bill of health.
One month later, the fateful day came when Gwendolyn was set to join our family. To spare Parker any distress, I scheduled an appointment for him with the vet for that same day, so they might have a chance to become acquainted. Though, before I even saw Gwendolyn, our vet choose to warn me that she had a reputation for being a "spitfire," and how she might end up being quite a handful. But, when they brought her to me, she looked so tiny, and harmless that I thought to myself, "How could such a sweet baby kitten be any trouble at all?"
Well, I soon discovered the answer to this question-the hard way! You see, I had high hopes that Parker and Gwendolyn would immediately hit it off, and become a feline version of Romeo and Juliet. Instead, they behaved like Petruchio and Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew! Thus, the story of their stormy courtship is an amusing bit of high drama I like to call, "The Claiming of the Shrew," which goes something like this…..
Parker and Gwendolyn's initial meeting at the vet's office went rather well. Though, they only saw each other for a few minutes before they were placed in separate carriers. However, on the ride home, Parker seemed annoyed because Gwendolyn was traveling with us. Once home, I sat both their carriers down and opened the doors. The two cats cautiously walked up to one another, until Parker threw the first punch. Gwendolyn, in response, ran for cover- until he cornered her in a hallway.
As he hovered over her, he seemed to be saying, "Hark maiden, bow down before me, for I am the mighty Parker-master of all you survey! And you, my sweet, are destined to become my bride!" Then, assuming that he had frightened her into submission, Parker gave her a quick swat on the head.
To my amazement, Gwendolyn seemed not all that impressed by Parker's efforts to empower her. Instead, she choose to stand her ground, and slapped her claw ridden paw across his face as if to say, "Back Unworthy Knave! For I am Gwendolyn, and I bow down before no Tom! I am kitten, hear me roar!" Then, they stared one another down, until I felt forced to move them to separate rooms, with separate accommodations.
Try as I might, to help Parker and Gwendolyn bond, my efforts all seemed to fall short of my expectations. And, while Parker wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of sharing his turf, he always treated Gwendolyn in a manner which insinuated that he was smitten with her. She, in turn, spurned his advances and took every opportunity to chase Parker out of his own litter box, and food dish-yet ,still he remained her ever persistent suitor. Thus, even in their most heated exchanges, Parker would appear to be saying, "Try as you might sweet Gwen, your resistance only renews my vow to win your heart! Mark my "Meow's," one day, my fiery shrew, you will be mine!"
To which Gwendolyn seemed to reply, " Eatith Crow!"
Two days had now passed since Gwendolyn's arrival, and still no progress had been made. Sadly, their mutual inability to get along still forced me to, for the most part, house them in separate rooms. Though, while I had, at first, taken this course of action, for fear that Parker might hurt Gwendolyn, suddenly the shoe was on the other paw. Now, whenever she might catch him napping, Gwendolyn would dive, whiskers first, into his stomach, in hopes of instigating a "knock-down, drag-out" grudge match. And, with all the finesse of a pro-wrestler, she would dare Parker to "Bringith It On!"
At my wits end, I took the advice of a friend who suggested that the more I kept Parker and Gwendolyn separated, the less of a chance I would have of them ever getting along. So, this certain morning, I let them roam the apartment together. I was expecting WW III, but then, something amazing happened. Instead of fighting back, Parker let Gwendolyn do as she pleased. If she started a ruckus, he walked away from it. If she crowded him out of his food dish, he simply went to hers. In short, like Petruchio, Parker had come to the conclusion that the best way to win the love of this most difficult female, was with reverse psychology. So, instead of "fighting fire with fire," he greeted her outbursts with kindness, and hence captured her heart. So moved was she by his decision to treat her as an equal opponent, Gwendolyn proclaimed, "Noble suitor, for your efforts to accept me as I am, I allow you to claim me for your bride!"
On a closing note, the trials and tribulations of Parker and Gwendolyn's courtship clearly echo the sentiment of William Shakespeare, who, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, observed that, "The course of true love never did run smooth."
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Tracey's Story List and Biography