Tic Tac is now an elegant lady with pristine fur. While she’s growing taller, she’s still very much a kitten. When you pick her up, she’s a snug double handful.
Like all kittens, she’s full of bounce and vigour. She plays ninja games with the big boy cats, pouncing out at them and challenging them to wrestling matches.
It was about three weeks ago when she was playing with Swooner that I sensed she was different. There was an intent look and some rather fancy prancing that looked very much like flirting.
As Tic Tac is just four months old, she’s way too young to be into adult entertainment. I told myself I must be imagining it.
But the next day, Tic Tac was rolling on the floor in front of the boys, holding her tail up and there was no missing the message: tarts on street corners swinging their handbags are discreet compared to our kitten.
Fortunately, Target and Swooner are neutered so our baby cat wasn’t about to find herself in trouble. But poor Tic Tac was distraught.
Unlike human people, cats are slaves to their fertility cycle. They can’t simply switch off their bodies. Our little girl was red hot to the touch and meowing in distress. It made it clear instantly why cats in the throws of their estrus cycle are said to be in heat.
We called the vet straight away but his opinion was that Tic Tac is too small to be spayed. She’s only just had her first vaccination, too. His advice was to continue keeping her indoors and to wait.
It wasn’t easy because Tic Tac was determined to seduce. When tail waving and flirting didn’t get the message across, our kitten resorted to shoving herself at the boys.
The result was a screwball romance complete with misunderstandings, conflict and humorous byplay.
When Tic Tac threw herself at Target, swooning in his paws, he slapped her smartly on the nose. Tic Tac paused in shock. Then, after gazing at him with disdain, she gathered herself like a drama queen, stalked off and collapsed at Swooner’s feet.
As our well-meaning but unwitting boy gave her a lick on the ear, Tic Tac became really frustrated. She danced and pranced, meowing until he bit her in the neck.
For a moment, Tic Tac was happy. Her instincts told her that all was well because in wild cats, biting the back of the neck is the first part of the mating ritual.
That nip was clearly something that Swooner half remembered from when he was an intact tom living on the streets. But as he is now a retired gentlemen cat, he hit his limit at the bite and then let go.
Now thoroughly upset, Tic Tac began caterwauling.
Cats can be loud; anyone who has heard a tomcat’s bloodcurdling war cry knows that. But this was in a different league.
Tic Tac is just a scrap of kitten but she outperformed fog horns and jet engines. The noise was deafening. It was also super shrill.
As Tic Tac shrieked, Swooner flattened himself in horrified awe and Target shoved his face in a pillow. Certain the neighbours would be dialling emergency services to report murder and mayhem, I scooped Tic Tac up. The wailing stopped at once but she was thoroughly upset.
Cuddling helped, and so we took it in turns to hold her and rub her spine. But as Tic Tac was not herself, she wanted to be up and down.
Target decided she was too much trouble and strolled off but Swooner stuck around. He bit her repeatedly in the neck, knowing it made her happier but not understanding why.
Over that first day, Tic Tac’s estrus ebbed and flowed. She would climb the walls and then collapse and sleep. We suspected she was exhausted purely from emotion. But when she woke up, she’d be agitated again.
At bedtime, we decided I would take Tic Tac to the spare room and stay with her. We were fairly sure she’d have a bad night and, as my work is quite flexible, I could get up if necessary and look after her.
As Tic Tac had just peaked and crashed, she was so wiped out that she curled up and was out in an instant. I had barely settled when Target meowed at the door. We always share a pillow and so the senior cat was not amused at being shut out.
I thought he might stomp off again at seeing Tic Tac but he marched past her and settled down with determination. When I went back to bed, Target stuck his paws in my hair, purring happily.
Our love-in was upset soon after, when Swooner meowed to be let in. He spotted Tic Tac and Target and immediately decided he needed to be with us. Tiptoeing around the kitten, he settled down too.
Looking at the cats strewn all over, I found myself smiling. With my being away most of September, my relationship with Swooner had suffered. But that night, having him plastered up against me, I knew we were back at happy.
It was such a relief that I didn’t care when Tic Tac had us up at two and then again at four, or that she needed her paw held most of the next day.
Adult females are in heat for a week or more at a time but thankfully Tic Tac’s estrus lasted about 48 hours. She had another episode about two weeks later, and we fully expect her to have one or two more before she’s big enough to be spayed.
I can’t find it in the literature about this but I suspect that Tic Tac may not be having a full estrus cycle because she is so young. It’s just as well because two days is about as much as we can stand.
While Tic Tac suffers, we give her little taste treats of chicken, and as a reward for putting up with her and being kind, Target and Swooner get their fair share too. But honestly, as soon as the vet says she’s ready, Tic Tac is going in for the snip.