Walking around to the front of the tree, it was obvious - a tiny, orange kitten. With BIG eyes peering at us, this little fuzzball seemed to be stuck there. I lifted it gently out of the crook, and it didn't protest in the slightest. My son at that point began to beg me, "Mom, can we keep it? Can we? Can we?" You know, the usual reaction of a child who loves animals to such a situation. This kitten was wearing a collar - no tags, but a collar - so I figured it belonged to someone. And I had no intentions of having any pets for awhile, just taking a breather from having just recently helped our beloved 18 year old black cat over to the Rainbow Bridge. I was going to concentrate on the kids. I had my hands full already.
I agreed to take the kitten into the house, to keep it safe. My son promised he would ask around at school if anyone was missing an orange kitten. Having just disposed of all my cat supplies, in line with my decision to not have a pet for awhile, I realized I had nothing of the supplies needed to care for this kitten. Off to the store I went, picking up a small bag of food and a disposable litterbox. This would surely make do until we could find the rightful owner. I spent a little time with this little one, but not a lot. I had taken in a kitten that could not have been more than 2-3 months old, it was tiny!! With that size, it easily fit under the furniture, under the entertainment center, and behind everything. I realized two things: I'd forgotten how you need to kitten-proof a home, and boy was I behind in housework! The kitten would come out from beneath or behind something, covered in dust. Oops! Nothing like a pet to remind you of what you need to clean...or do the cleaning for you.
After several days of noone at school, noone in the neighborhood, noone at the animal hospital or police station knowing anything about a missing orange kitten, I realized what I'd done. I'd let a teeny-tiny, fluffy little ball of fire ADOPT US. A trip to the store for some litter and a real box, some food, some toys...and it was cemented. The kitten was ours. Or we were its - take your choice. Up to this point, we'd been assuming the kitten was a girl - no signs of masculine "extras". We decided to call her Pumpkin (oh so original!) Upon talking with my neighbor, an animal rescue volunteer, we decided we needed to make sure of this designation, even before we went to the vet for their services. He kindly sent me a link to a website that offers pictures - yes, pictures - so you can more accurately determine the gender of your furball.
There I sat, in front of the computer, with my four kids and a friend of theirs surrounding me. Click on the link - and oh, my. Definitely more accurate! Descriptions, too, of exactly what to look for. As I enlarged the photos, it suddenly became clear. "Pumpkin's a boy! Pumpkin's a boy" - exclamations from my entourage. Well, I'll be darned. Then what ensued was quite a bit of laughter, some comments about Chandler, and I was clueless. My kids had to explain to me that there'd been a scene in the "Friends" TV show, where Phoebe was going to name one of her babies after their friend Chandler, only for the "friends" to come rushing out of the delivery room shouting "Chandler's a girl! Chandler's a girl!" Once the kids updated me on all the specifics of this show and this particular scene, I understood the humor they found in our afternoon.
This is how our little orange kitten came to be known as Chandler. As much as I had wanted to have a spell where we did not have any pets, I must admit he was a joy from the start. The antics, the silliness, the cuteness, the sheer wonderfulness of kittenhood was great for the kids and I alike to experience. Who knows where he came from, how he got to our property, but one thing is for sure - he probably got himself stuck up in that tree all on his own. It turned out that he was a tree climber, tree-lover extraordinaire. For the first couple years of his life, he often made a mad dash out the door between our legs, making a beeline for a neighbor's tree. Once, he was up so high, kept climbing higher, we had to resort to hosing him off! Literally, we took the hose and sprayed at him, and boy did he make a flying leap off that tree. He hit the ground with a thud, then took off with lightening speed straight toward the door. Into the door, actually - he smacked right into it. Fortunately, he wasn't the slightest bit scathed from the event. We, on the other hand, had quite a fright from it all. And we stopped putting up our Christmas tree - seriously - because mornings would find either a pair of eyes peering at us from the top branches of the tree, just under the angel, or a tree lying sideways with decorations all over the floor. No tree was a small price to pay, though, for our tree lover who just never figured out how to get down!