Thurston is a pretty good cat, all told.

Having been on this earth only four months, he is still learning and we give him some slack.

But sometimes he tests our mettle.

His claws are razor-sharp and his teeth like needles. At least once a day, he uses them on our hands, arms and ankles, which bear multiple scratches. Often I hear Phil screech from a faraway room as he is attacked.

Thurston has a lot of energy.

He flies around the house like a whirling dervish, knocking everything in sight off multiple surfaces.

The living room coffee table has never looked so spartan because I removed the items I typically keep there — pens, a box of tissues, a desk calendar, return address labels, books.

I did this because Thurston whacked them off onto the floor, day after day, and I got tired of picking them up.

I also was forced to remove my plants from the living room window sill because Thurston has this thing about dirt — he loves to scatter it.

Already, he is controlling our lives, and we let him.

I’ve learned never to relocate a plant next to a surface on which Thurston can climb, as his long paws are adept at reaching for dirt and flinging it.

He also is too young to understand the word, “No,” so he repeatedly jumps on the island in the kitchen, despite my repeated orders to stick to the chairs. I’ve started using a spray water bottle to deter him from the island, and I think he is starting to make the connection.

He also gets into places he should not — namely the refrigerator and freezer whenever we open their doors, and the lazy Susan cupboard under the counter in our kitchen. He slips in there so quickly we do not notice, and then the house is eerily quiet until I hear a muffled meow coming from the kitchen and I go to investigate and see the corner cupboard door throbbing.

Thurston also chases cat toys under furniture and can’t figure out how to get out again.

One day I heard him crying and discovered he had crawled under a heavy marble-top chest and was stuck. He was so tiny then he could slip into small spaces. Now that he is larger, we don’t have to worry about that chest anymore, thank goodness.

The worst was when he fell into the toilet, submerging his hind legs and tail. We now check to ensure the lid is down.

Thurston is an orange-and-white cat who not so very long ago was a tiny ball of fur. We got him in August at the Humane Society Waterville Area, perfectly aware of the fact that it would likely be difficult to persuade our 10-year-old coon cat, Bitsy, that he would make a good companion after the death in November of her litter mate Pip.

We followed all the advice about keeping the new kitten in a separate room for a few days so Bitsy could slowly acclimate to the sound of his meows. He would poke his paws under the door and Bitsy would sniff them and growl.

We knew Thurston was going to be a force to be reckoned with when on the third day we opened the door to his room and, following protocol, we laid a screen door on its side across the doorway and let him and Bitsy meet for the first time.

In two seconds he leapt over the screen to greet her.

We then put the screen door up so it covered the entire doorway and what did Thurston do? He climbed the screen from the floor all the way up to the top and promptly fell 7 feet down.

That’s when we abdicated protocol and let the two felines duke it out, if that was what was to happen.

Thurston was delighted with Bitsy. She did not reciprocate.

She looked at us as if we had violated some cardinal rule of feline ownership: namely, to never invade an old cat’s space with a new, young one.

It has been two months since they met, and while things have gotten easier, Bitsy still is annoyed with Thurston.

She has always been an outdoor cat. We haven’t dared to let him out for fear he will run wild and never come home.

If Bitsy goes out for a couple of hours and comes in, he is so excited he runs toward her, wraps his paws around her head, rubs his face against hers and purrs. She grimaces and gives him a whack.

Some days, you might see them sleeping in close proximity and you’d never know there was a problem.

Other days, Thurston chases Bitsy from room to room and all we hear are growls and hisses.

But we know time will assuage her animosity.

Today, we put Thurston in a cat harness and leash I got at the pet store.

Per all the advice we were given, we tried the harness on him a few times in the house and let him run — or flop around, I should say — to get him used to it before taking him outside.

He was enthralled with the fresh air and clouds and leaves flying around and loved smelling the grass and dirt.

As he skirted from place to place in the back yard, Bitsy watched with a startled look that appeared to be either disbelief he was in her sacred territory or genuine concern that he might hurt himself.

Whatever the case, I think we’re in for an interesting winter, particularly when Christmas rolls around and the tree arrives in the house.

Phil says we shouldn’t have one this year as Thurston surely will tear it to shreds, but I tell him to take heart — we’ll teach him the ropes.

Oh, the lessons he has yet to learn.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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