Every night our cat sleeps with her eyes open just in case she needs to defend herself against the ‘enemy’ through an astounding display of well-aimed scratches and bites. Alas, as she’s an inside cat, it is us that is her imaginary nemesis, so we grip our pillows tight in fear of the mad moggie who was appropriately named Ninja.
We never meant to adopt a kitten. We were supposed to rescue one of the cats on show at an RSPCA pop-up event, but none looked like “the one”. They just looked bored. We didn’t even venture near the kitten display that was crowded with disillusioned families about to unknowingly wreck havoc on their lives by taking home a furry bundle of “fun”. That fateful day, however, lead to a conversation about a connection who is a foster carer for rescued animals, which lead to us looking on her Facebook page and to a photo of Ninja aged four weeks who was slightly cross-eyed and adorable, which transgressed to an email about said pussy cat, which resulted in a visit where we fell in love with a 400 gram kitten whom we christened Ninja McJones.
But it was her back-story, too, that sucked us in. A man on Russell Island had gone into his backyard a week or so before and noticed that one of his dogs had something in its mouth. That something was little Ninja. Where she came from no one knows. How she survived that experience no one knows, either. But her “saved from the jaws of certain death” story was enough to make us sign up as her potential owners on the spot.
We waited impatiently for a few weeks until she was big enough for us to bring her home. I must admit the first few hours were cuteness personified as she sniffed out each nook and cranny and learned how to use the kitty litter with wondrous aplomb. Unfortunately, rather too quickly, we also learned that kittens like to bite and scratch your hands, feet, legs, face, inside and outside the couch, laundry basket, newspaper basket, newspapers, magazines, plastic bags, shoes, shoe laces, electrical cables, every single piece of clothing ever invented as well as lick and chew your hair. She can also stand up on her hind legs like a kangaroo, which really is a sight to behold even if you know she’s inevitably about to launch herself at you.
Now for the first month or two we weren’t overly worried because she’s a kitten and they like to play – a lot. As time went on, however, we started to wonder whether Ninja, she of the impressive pounce and no fear – of anything – was maybe, you know, a little fucken crazy. It was about this time that I turned to B and asked: “Are you pleased we got Ninja?” and he looked at me with a half-smile and replied “sometimes”.
Meanwhile, Ninja’s weight increased rapidly so she was no longer the fluffy wee kitty. She also learned how to jump up on anything. Her favourite place is near a sink full of water on the kitchen bench and also the bath, because she (rather strangely I presume) loves water. No spraying water on her to calm her down or train her to be good. We quickly learned that to Ninja, water is nirvana. Last night she shuffed her face in my water glass five or six times. Maybe she thinks she’s human.
She jumped out of the window (we live on the second floor) when she was three months old and got stuck on our neighbour’s ledge but that taste of adventure means she now tries to escape out the door every single time we open it. I’ve chased her around the courtyard so many times – including in a ball gown and heels – that it’s now part of my regular exercise regime. Last week, I let her come with me while I hung up the washing because she and I were both desperate for her to be outside. She took off when my back was turned and was gone for several hours. But as long as she didn’t get run over, I wasn’t too concerned because I knew anyone who found her would quickly give her back to us once they got to know her.
She’s bitten or scratched every single visitor we’ve had so she now is mostly relegated to my writing room (where she’s taken ownership of the $1000 egg chair) to keep everyone safe and in a new low the other night she bit B’s eyeball. Although he did make the mistake of trying to hongi with her (which is the touching of noses and is something she loves to do with me all the time) when she wasn’t ready or even remotely interested. He’s Australian, you see, so he didn’t understand that everyone has to be onboard to hongi. You can’t just spring a hongi on someone – even a cat. Us kiwis know this intuitively, of course.
As I write this blog, Ninja is in short spell of time-out because she does love to run up and down on my keyboard to help make my stories better. If Marley was the worst dog in the world, then Ninja must surely be the feline equivalent.
Lately, though, she is having very brief moments of stillness, where she even allows us to pat her and her purring is loud, long and happy. She also spent the whole day lying on my chest, giving me hongis whenever I wanted, recently when I was feeling under the weather and also a little blue. It’s at moments like that you that forgive her myriad moggie maladies – until, of course, her eyes widened devilishly and she slaps you across the face with her paw.