Lessons Learned Living With Kittens
by MARK PENNINGTON, Mystre Bengals

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We don't cage our kittens.

They start off in a closet in our bedroom and then we graduate them to a big corral in our bedroom. We stack large boxes in a big square in order to pen the little critters in a smaller space so that they learn to use the litter box and keep the messes around the food and water bowls contained to their local area.

We learned that kittens do learn to climb very early, so when they start climbing the child gate at the closet door that is when we build the corral. We build it with boxes with smooth sides to begin with . . . much more quickly than we anticipate they learn to leap to the top of the first row of the cardboard fence. So we start stackin'. The odd thing is that they learn where the littlest ledges are and find purchase on them and are quickly to the second level of cardboard containment.

So it's back to the garage to find more levels to keep the little "angels" in place. Finally we surrender to the frisky feline acrobats and open the door to the corral. That at least reduces the screams from them as they encourage each other to climb higher and higher, however now the entire bedroom is their domain, we become merely human cat toys.

My lovely wife gets up at about 4:40am so needs to retire fairly early at night, much to the delight of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (and sisters) (70's reference to an obscure comic book). Now, back to the lesson learned . . .

I was making an attempt to wear them out by holding a cat wand with feather attachment above their heads and making the HERD leap for the feather. Imagine all six of them in a circle in between my wife and I, in bed, leaping and leaping to get the toy.

OK, here is an admission that probably shares too much information about my sleep habits, but I sleep in my underwear and am very hot natured. It is hot already in Texas, and even at night, I sleep with the AC on and the ceiling fan right above me on the high setting, but I sleep out from under the covers.

The cats, or as I have came to know them, feet with knives, are leaping from the bed, from on top of my wife and on top of me. They land in every conceivable position but each landing is made with claws fully extended and, though I don't know how, the claws are motorized and rotating at the speed of sound. Here are some of the lessons . . .

  • If you have kittens, get a better air conditioner so its cold and you need the covers . . .
  • Don't play with cat toys when wearing underwear . . .
    but if you must play with cats while wearing underwear, reinforce the crotch . . .
  • Don't lay on your side as kittens with sharp teeth WILL bite you on the butt . . .
  • If your wife is asleep, don't point leaping kittens at her face . . . unless you want to avoid leaping kittens, then do point them at her sleeping face, whereas you get sent to the couch to sleep . . . thereby avoiding the leaping kittens completely.
  • Be careful of full grown mama cats teaching kittens how to catch feathers . . . that land with claws in daddy's chest . . .
  • I learned that the ancient torture of "the death of a thousand cuts" was done with kittens . . .
  • I learned that the morning after "wearing the kittens out" in the shower will feel like a very severe sunburn due to the reenactment of that ancient torture . . .
  • I learned that if you try to wear kittens out and they are too busy to remember to go to the litter box, they will go on your pillow instead . . .
  • I learned that you can't wear kittens out . . .
  • I learned that hiding the toy under your leg so that they will go away only leads to them learning how to dig, and with 6 kittens learning that, your leg can become very raw . . .
  • I learned that kittens think toes are kibble . . .
  • I learned that fruit of the loom means "find the toy" in Kitten-ease . . .
  • I learned that men's nipples must look a lot like Bengal mother nipples . . .
  • Most of all, I learned that I really love my cats . . . or they wouldn't still be alive . . .

About The Author:

Mark Pennington was a small Bengal breeder located in the Houston, Texas area.

He fell in love with the beautiful Bengal cat, captivated by their amazing intelligence and incredible appearance.

Together with his wife, Karen, Mark began breeding Bengals under the Mystre cattery name, focusing on temperament and health.

He loved to show their Bengals in TICA shows throughout the U.S. Indeed, there was no greater joy for their entire family than sharing their lives and home with their little spotted clowns.

Mark also maintained a website titled The Cat Buyers Guide, a site dedicated to the improvement of cat breeder standards and ethics.

Sadly, in April 2015, Mark died unexpectedly. He will always be sorely missed.

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