The weeks passed by and I was growing.
“Nina”, Miss M’Lu called. “Come here. I have something for you.”
I scampered over to her.
“Here’s a nice new collar for you”, she said as she bent down.
She clicked it around my neck. I sat there. It felt funny.
“I wonder if I can take it off”, I thought as I scratched at it with my back foot.
“Don’t do that, Nina”, she said. “It won’t come off. It looks so pretty on you. That teal color is striking with your silky midnight black fur.”
“Guess that makes you an official member of the family,” Ringo grinned as he came by to watch. “I’ve got a green one and Friendly’s got a blue one.”
“What’s that shiny medal you have hanging from it,” I asked him.
“Oh, that’s an ID Tag. It has our name, address and phone number on it. You’ll probably be getting one too, when you get a little bigger. It’s probably too heavy for you now,” he snickered.
“Com’on. Wanna have some fun!” he invited.
I followed him and he walked through the half opened door into the pantry. In the corner there was a paper bag filled with other folded shopping bags. He jumped into it and scattered the bags all around!
“Whee,” I exclaimed as I wiggled in and out of the strewn shopping bags.
“Rip!” the bag went as Ringo jumped out.
The door flew open!
“What are you two doing! Look at this mess!” Miss M’Lu exclaimed.
Ringo ran passed her and I tore out right on his tail!
“That was fun,” I panted behind him, “but Miss M’lu wasn’t too happy about it!”
“Yeah, but she knows how much I like paper bags and boxes. You watch, later on she’ll leave an open bag out for us.”
Sure enough, later in the day there was a bag on the kitchen floor waiting for us. Boy did we have fun! Ringo would charge into the bag and I would jump on it and together we’d slide along the kitchen floor!
After a couple of weeks went by, Miss M’lu attached this cord to my new collar.
“Well, Nina, we’re going to start training you to go out. This is a leash and I want you to get used to it,” she said as she dropped it and walked off.
When I moved it followed me wherever I went. I couldn’t get away from it, even when I ran. So I started chasing it instead. It was like a string toy. Whenever I went around something like the scratching post I’d catch up to the handle and pounce on it. If I went by Ringo he would swat at it and chase it.
“Nina is sure smart,” I heard her telling M’ster Doc. “She’s not in the least intimidated by the leash and even plays with it.”
Miss M’lu put the leash on me for about half an hour every day for a week. I got used to it and didn’t mind it anymore. Then she started holding it and following me all around wherever I went.
She has a hand signal that means “Come Here” that she uses with Ringo and Friendly. Whenever they see the signal they come running to her. She has started using it on me and I am getting the idea.
After several days of following me on the leash she started to give it two gentle tugs and then give me the hand signal.
“Come here, Nina.”
“I guess she wants me to go to her,” I figured and took two steps towards her. Then I turned around and headed off in the other direction with her following.
This went on for days and days and on each one I took a couple of more steps her way before I charged off my own way.
One day the postman came to the door with a package from Amazon. Miss M’lu opened the box and took out several things.
“Here it is,” she said as she put the empty box on the floor. Ringo was right there! He jumped into the box and started shuffling the packing paper around. I was going to jump in too when she picked me up.
“Let’s try this on for size,” she told me as she put this thing around my chest and tummy. I felt constricted!
“What in the world is this,” I complained with a dragged out ‘Meowww’?
“It’s a harness,” Ringo volunteered. “I’ve got one, too and so does Friendly.”
“What’s it for?” I complained.
“It’s to put the leash on when you go outside. This way if you decide to chase after a bird or squirrel and forget you’re on a leash you won’t get choked when you come to the end of it like would happen with just a collar. It also will help you stay close to Miss M’lu so you won’t run off and play and get lost.”
“Oh,” I said, not sure if I liked it or not.
I had to wear this harness for a couple of hours a day and sometimes the leash was also attached to it on my back. Eventually, I got used to it and didn’t even know I was wearing them.
Now Miss M’Lu starting walking with me around the house with the halter and leash, same as she had done with the collar and leash. I was getting the hang of it and half the time she followed me and the other half I followed her. It was a compromise, kitten style!
The hot Summer was ebbing and Fall was on the horizon. Outside in back, next to the courtyard, there was a 10 x 10 pen which Ringo told me was the Kitty Cabana. When the weather was good they got to go outside. Sometimes, in the Summer, in the morning when it was cooler, he and Friendly were put in it for a couple of hours before it got hot. I was too little to go and yearned for the day I could join then.
One day, when Ringo and Friendly were in the Kitty Cabana, Miss M’lu called me.
“Nina, would you like to go outside?”
“Mew-yes! Mew-yes!” I said ecstatically. I was so excited! I’d be going outside.
She picked me up and carried me out. After she opened the door she put me down and went back to the patio to sit down and watch me.
Friendly came and sniffed me, “Hiss-ss”.
“Back off,” Ringo warned her.
“She used to hiss and swat at me when I was your size,” he told me. “But now that I’ve grown to twice her size she just runs away from me. She won’t bother you.”
“Wow,” I said as I stood in the grass. “This is super!”
I walked around. The grass felt so good on my little paws and it smelled nice. I found the litter box tucked away in a corner. Then a water bowl on the opposite side. There was this construction of cinder blocks off to one side which provided two platforms for sleeping and sitting. The concrete blocks kept you cool. And there was a nice house with windows in it and a rug on the floor. The roof was flat with a small rain slant and the shingles were great for rolling and scratching your back.
“This is a nice house!” I told Ringo as I walked in.
“It was here before me,” he commented. “Friendly mentioned that Miss M’lu had made it. She told me she had put it together for her and Tippy when they had moved here.”
I continued exploring and came to this patch of tall weeds which had intentionally been left there.
“It’s a jungle,” I exclaimed as I pushed myself through them, “and I am a panther hunting the wild gecko!”
“Meow-ha-ha”, Ringo laughed.
I started running around and he chased me for awhile. Then he went to sleep on top of the house.
Friendly was lying on top of one of the cinder block platforms watching me through slanted eyes.
I had fun chasing the bugs and flying insects that ventured into my den. I even saw a gecko scampering up a jasmine vine that covered the Kitty Cabana but I couldn’t reach him. There was a huge scratching post in the middle that held up the chicken wire and jasmine covering the pen. I was able to climb it almost to the top. There was a toy mouse suspended on a long string from the wire “roof” and I kept swatting at it whenever I passed by.
By the time Miss M’lu came out to bring us in for dinner I was completely exhausted! Friendly was tired from watching me and Ringo was well rested from a long nap.
What a great day! After supper I crashed for the rest of the night. All that fresh air and running around had done me in.
Little did I know there was a new adventure waiting for me the next day!