Eventually, one of the neighbors found a kitten stowed away on the engine block of his car and immediately thought of Turtle. A short time later, he arrived with his wife and daughter and a very tiny kitten in a crate. A very tiny, adorable, energetic kitten with a pink nose and needle sharp claws.
By the second week, the baby was climbing everything. Turtle's legs looked like she had been dragged through a briar patch, and my leather recliner was scratched and snagged. Domestic tranquility was a distant memory, and the walls frequently rang with anguished shrieks as the baby leapt from floor to leg and scrambled up a back or chest to hang off shoulder or neck. Hydrogen peroxide and liquid bandage were the order of the day. I quickly discovered that the work of scooping the litter for three cats instead of two is somehow doubled, as opposed to the 33.3% increase that a logical person might expect.
Meanwhile, the two older cats had stopped ignoring the newcomer and, after considerable hissing and growling, a sort of equilibrium was reached. The middle child took to hiding in Turtle's closet, and the eldest wearily allowed the baby to trail around the house after him, biting his tail and trilling at him. Before long, he forgot that he was the cat equivalent of a 73-year-old and enthusiastically romped and wrestled with the baby. That's how he hurt his back, pinching a nerve and partially paralyzing one of his rear legs. So now, when he goes in the litter box, he always steps in his wet spot and then tracks muddy footprints from the utility room, across the kitchen, and beyond. The middle child has to nervously sneak into the litter box when she thinks the baby isn't around. This is because the baby likes to stand on top of the covered box and hang her head over the edge to peer inside like some voyeuristic gargoyle.
By the fourth week, we were calling the baby “Bailey”, and despite Turtle's several phone calls and emails suggesting to the neighbor that the trial period wasn't working out, it appeared she was staying. That's probably okay. She has to be locked up in her crate each night, or we'd never get any sleep; but she's a forgiving, affectionate little thing and only wants to rub, rub, rub when we let her out in the morning. The front claws are going to have to go when she's old enough, along with her girl parts, but if we can all survive that long, I think it's all going to work out.
But that's it. Three is the limit. Seriously.