Home is where the pets are

Maple snoozes contentedly on the couch in Erin and Brandon Kline’s Charleston home. The couple knew that once they got their own home, they were getting pets.
Photo courtesy of ERIN KLINE
Minga stretches out on the bed in her home.
Photos courtesy of ERIN KLINE
Minga and Monster were adopted as kittens from the Kanawha-Charleston shelter. Minga is more mellow, while Monster is a bit of a wild cat.
Photo courtesy of ERIN KLINE
With his wild personality, it’s possible Monster is preparing for a bit of mischief.

There are many perks to owning your own home. For Erin and Brandon Kline, of Charleston, the three biggest are Minga, Monster and Maple.

That would be Minga and Monster, the gray tabby siblings they adopted from the Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association in September 2012, and Maple, the Jack Russell mix they adopted nine months later.

“Pretty much as soon as we had our own house, I said, ‘OK, it’s time to go to the shelter,’” said Erin, who noted she and Brandon always had pets growing up but were waiting until they bought a house before getting any as a couple.

She ended up going to the shelter alone, intending to look at adult cats. However, seeing Monster in the kitten room changed her plans.

“He was actually throwing himself against the cage to get my attention,” she recalled. “That drew me to him.”

“I should have known; it was sort of a picture of what was to come,” she added with a laugh. “He’s a pretty wild cat.”

Kline said she immediately connected with the two kittens and didn’t want to separate them. Since the plan had been to get two anyway, adopting the siblings didn’t pose a problem.

With no other animals in the house, there were no acclimation problems of that sort. However, Kline said, it took the cats some time to get used to her husband.

“We suspect they may have been abused in some way because of things we noticed after we brought them home,” she said. “For some reason, they’re terrified of men. They’re getting better, but, originally, they would hide for hours if they heard men’s voices. Monster still hides once in a while.”

That fear couldn’t keep their curiosity down, though. Kline said they loved to explore the house.

“It was interesting watching them run around. They were always running together. They almost looked like velociraptors with their tails stuck straight up in the air, checking things out.”

She said now, they’ve grown a little more independent of each other, and their personalities have become more distinct.

“Monster is extremely wild; he runs up and down the cat trees and jumps from furniture piece to furniture piece. His sister is very quiet — well, she’s pretty vocal, and she meows a lot — but she’s a very gentle cat; she doesn’t run around like he does.”

When asked if she was actively looking for another pet when she got Maple, Kline laughed.

“I’m always actively looking for animals,” she said.

“I had brought up the idea of getting a dog,” she continued. “We both had always had and loved dogs, but it was mostly how the cats reacted to men and had not connected with my husband. They’re OK with him now, but the first three or four months, they wouldn’t go anywhere near him. We got a dog because of how they weren’t as social with him.”

As with her first visit, Kline went in looking for an adult dog.

“I probably shouldn’t have walked into the puppy room,” she said with a laugh.

There were just three dogs in the room: a very small Chihuahua (“I was worried Monster would eat it”); one in a crate with no cage card, which Kline thought might have already been adopted, and Maple.

“She was the only one left in her crate. I had seen pictures on the shelter website of her with her siblings,” Kline said. “She was just so cute! I had to bring her home.

“I called my husband to ask if it was OK. He was pretty hesitant, and then I sent him a picture of her, and he sent a text back that said, ‘Just bring her home.’”

All three animals get along, with Monster and Maple enjoying playtime together, running around and wrestling. Minga is less at ease with Maple, but Kline said they have several baby gates set up to block off room for her to escape to whenever she needs.

Maple, who just celebrated her first birthday Saturday, has taken to her adoptive parents too.

“She’s very attached to both of us,” Kline said, adding that the couple has also worked hard to socialize her with a variety of different people and animals.

“She loves people, she loves dogs, she loves cats, she loves kids. She is just so incredibly social and friendly. She does this thing when she gets excited to see you; she wiggles her butt — her whole body, really — when she wags her tail.

“And she’s really well-mannered. She was a little wild when we first got her, but she was a puppy. We’re always amazed at how smart she is and how quickly she picks up on things.”

But has she picked up yet on her mom’s intentions for another sibling?

“I’m actually trying to convince my husband that a second dog would be good for Maple, but I’ve been met with a lot of resistance,” Kline said. “I’m pretty convincing, though. We may end up with another dog in the future.

“If he were not here to stop me, I’d probably have many more cats and dogs.”

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.

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