The Ringing In My Ears Is Real
by MARK PENNINGTON, Mystre Bengals

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Ok. I admit it. I make a lot of mistakes and have made more in my life than most folks have.

I have made huge ones and small ones. Little ones that became major, and ones that I thought were major that no one even noticed. But boy have I made a doosey this time.

See, it started when Dreamy's litter was born.

I had six little bundles of fuzzy love suckling on mama cat and we could not be more pleased. Pleased with Dreamy for how wonderful of a mama she was being and pleased with ourselves, no modesty allowed. We done good!

Then we wanted to weigh the future curtain climbers to make sure that they were growing each day the right amount and to make sure we were good kitty parents. So we had the scale out and started a weighin' 'em. I freely admit that I am not the fastest flea in the fleece, so it should have came as no surprise when I realized that we couldn't tell which cat was which. I mean I could figure out that the mama cat was the bigger one, but all them spots just sorta blurred together on me. Well, we thought, "We can remember them, just keep a weighin' 'em" It did take me a bit (note comment about the flea pecking order and where I fit into it) to realize that I was weighing the same damn kitten several times. We would set it down and have no idea which one we just set down. So we came to the source of all knowledge - the Bengals-List.

We asked folks, "How the heck do you keep them apart?"

And we got some great answers! Once again, I thought,"You are just a backwoods country boy. Any dang person should know those things, just makes sense."

So we tried the first idea that was shared with us; put different colored polish on the nails. AH-HA! that was ingenious we thought. Then we came to realize that the nails were awful dang small on these critters, and neither one of us are as young as we used to be and you know what they say " the eyes are the first thing to go" (not true by the way - right guys?... guys? right? damn, just me? *sigh*) We could not see any polish on them teeny things to save our corneas.

Back to the list and the infinite font of know how that you all so freely share. Then came the next genius revelation. Use some food coloring under a little kitty armpit. Now why the hell didn't I grasp that perfectly sensible concept. So off to the store for some food coloring. Red, green, yellow, blue, orange... dang, 5 colors - six kittens?? (you were actually thinking I could not think to leave one without color weren't you? I know you were.) How were we gonna mix the colors to make a different color (ok you were right, don't laugh, it could happen to anyone) We finally realized that we didn't need the sixth color and started liberally applying the food coloring under those little fuzzy armpits.

What we failed to take into account is that the mama cat can clean them as fast as you can color a kitten, and there you have it, once again we were still stumped trying to tell "kitten 1" from"kitten 2".

Dang food coloring wouldn't last an hour, but we sure soaked a few cats trying to get it to. Those little bottles actually hold quite a bit. Dreamy's tongue never looked so colorful before or since.

Then some kind Samaritan offered the sage advice of identifying markings. THEY HAVE HUNDREDS OF SPOTS for crying out loud. I have steadfastly refused to wear the glasses I paid $200 for because in order to read I have to keep moving my book to keep the words in the sweet spot of the glasses. So I have resorted to trying to create arm extensions so I can keep reading. But I digress. So we began our study of the kittens spots looking for patterns and trying to associate names with the patterns. This actually worked for a while. Though my wife didn't like some of the names I was coming up with, which are too, ummm, colorful to place in print. A psychology student would be able to write a great dissertation on those Rosarch ink blots if they would study my remarks.

What wasn't clear at the time was that the spots MOVE as they age. I had named one of the kittens Violet due to the distinct "V" on her forehead. This, overnight, became identical to April's forehead. Then I had to keep going back to my computer to interpret the patterns on their sides to remember who was who.

I am now certain that all of these ideas are an inside joke of the more senior cat breeders in order for them all to have great fun in private emails and over coffee, laughing at the newbie who was painting toenails and squirting copious volumes of food coloring
on their Bengal babies.

So, back to what I was saying about making mistakes... I decided a week or so ago I wanted to be able to clearly tell who was who from a distance with my fading eyesight. So in one fateful trip to PetCo I found and purchased six little kitty collars, all of differing colors.

And as a bonus, I thought, "how cute, they have little bells." I imagined the cute little "jingle,jingle" of the kittys. What I didn't take into consideration just how much and how fast the little devils move.

Six bells, six kittens, 24 feet that move at the speed of OHMYGAWDLOOKATTHAT. The bells are no longer a cute little concert of feline fun. It has became an alarm clock at 11pm, 2am and 4am!

So for those of you in the coffee clutch, who have been sending me Snipe hunting, you have indeed broken me. My shrink thanks you from his summer home in the Hamptons. The ringing in MY ears is REAL.

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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