All of us dwellers of the Treehouse are winners in our own right, but today I must sing the praises of the newest occupant, a kitten named Smidgen.
Like any superhero, he has a unique origin story. Smidgen appeared mysteriously in the deep woods of South Carolina on a brisk fall day. Whether he was actually born on this planet or was beamed down from an alien world will remain forever unknown to humankind.
He fearlessly approached a hunter—i.e., an armed stranger who has entered the forest specifically to slay woodland creatures—and followed him for a mile’s walk through the woods on his stubby little kitten legs, then crawled up a tree and into a deer stand with the man and napped purring on his lap all afternoon, then followed him again all the way back to his truck. At that point, the hunter was smitten and decided to bring the little guy home. But they have a house full of cats and couldn’t take in another kitten and his wife, a friend and former coworker, put out a call to see if anyone would take him.
I heard this story and realized that this kitten was special. He was born not only understanding the privilege his cuteness affords him but also knowing how to work it like a boss. I was intrigued.
We worried how he’d get along with our adult cat Noche, but we agreed to foster him and see how it went. The kitten marched in the door with tail held high, and when Noche hissed and spat, he shrugged it off, refusing to entertain the notion that any man or beast could resist his kittenly charms. Noche was put off guard. We brought out some cat toys and Noche watched in fascination as the kitten, who looks like a mini-Noche, the lowercase version of his uppercase self, attacked the toys with complete ferocity and enthusiasm, never cowering or flinching. Within a few days, the two were sleeping side by side.
They sometimes play and rough house, but Smidgen never backs down. He arrived in our home with a full understanding of battle strategy, already using the tactics of a four-star general. Smidgen knows that you can take on an opponent four times bigger than you as long as you have the high ground and a fearless heart. But he also knows it’s a good idea to have a hiding place that your opponent is too big to squeeze into, and he is wise enough to know when to position himself in the space under pieces of furniture and make his attack from there.
After having spent the last few months observing his ways, I have come to understand Smidgen’s life mission: to test the boundaries of the possible.
Unlike me, Smidgen isn’t tortured by indecision, paralyzed between the push and pull of pros and cons. He doesn’t wonder if he should try to climb up the screen door, or whether he should dig up the potted plants and fling dirt everywhere, or sneak into the pantry and chew through the cat food bag, or if it’s a good idea to pounce on Noche’s tail. His answer is always a resounding yes. Whatever devilish idea has hatched in his brain, he goes for it with everything he’s got. Sometimes he wipes out, or he gets yelled at, or hissed at, or squirted with a water gun, but that doesn’t faze him or undermine his determination. He’s back up and back at the task at hand.
I am constantly amazed and inspired* by the level of destruction one small creature can create. He’s a role model for us all: a living, caterwauling reminder of the big things you can accomplish when you believe in yourself, when you’re willing to put in long hours of effort and practice, and when you refuse to take no for an answer. I’m just hoping that a tiny smidgen of his heroism, confidence, fierceness, and perseverance rubs off on me.
*inspired to cuss loudly