This week, I noticed more orange kittens than usual at the SPCA. Or maybe I am just more aware of the color as a result of seeing so much orange at the U.Va. football and basketball games these past few days. Regardless, orange kittens of all stripes and sizes filled a good number of cages in the kitten hallway on this particular Sunday. So, I decided today would be Orange Kitten Day.
In a sea of orange, one orange kitten at the end of the hallway stood out among all of the others. Maybe it was his beckoning meows. Or his speckled stripes and white boots. But, quite honestly, I think it may have been the name on his information sheet: Jack-O-Lantern.
…Jack-O-Lantern? Don’t get me wrong, I see the connection. Plump orange kitten. Probably been there since Halloween two weeks ago. It certainly caught my attention. But it is now November, halfway to December, and this cute little kitten is still being called “Jack-O-Lantern.” Shouldn’t kittens with holiday-specific names be eligible for name changes upon the passing of that holiday?
And so, on Orange Kitten Day, I decided to shorten “Jack-O-Lantern” to “Jack,” which soon changed yet again into “Wild Jack” after our initial meeting.
At first, Jack had just wanted to cuddle. I took him out of his cage and he immediately crawled up over my shoulder and began purring into my ear. His purring grew louder as I rubbed behind his orange ears and under his striped belly. He seemed as if he’d be content in my arms for hours. That is, until he saw all of the toys in the kitten socialization room.
Scratching post and toys on strings in sight, Jack squirmed to get out of my arms and begin playing. He tore around the scratching post and chased toys this way and that, quickly earning his new name: Wild Jack. But one thing hadn’t changed about Wild Jack: he still loved ear and belly rubs. So, of course, I gladly gave Jack-O-Lantern/Jack/Wild Jack ear and belly rubs galore in honor of Orange Kitten Day that afternoon. Then, I visited all of the other kittens to wish them a happy Orange Kitten Day as well.
It is days like this one that make me look back on my past few years of volunteering at the SPCA and smile. I’ve had the opportunity to socialize so many different animals, of all ages, colors, unknown backgrounds, funny assigned names, and personalities. I’ve picked up kittens that have been terrified of human contact in the first minute, loving the attention a moment later, and acting as if they’ve known me forever once they’ve set paw in the visitation room. All of which has prepared these animals to be someone’s pet for the long haul one day soon. While I’d take all of them home if I could, I’ve truly enjoyed the couple of hours each week that I’ve gotten to spend improving their lives, as they’ve improved mine.
Happy Orange Kitten Day to all!