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The Wild Kittens Who Tamed Our Neighborhood

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YOU never know what surprises are waiting for you just around the corner. For example, I would never have thought Mr. Ianelli, who lives on the corner of our street, would turn out to be a kitten tamer. He's a perfectly ordinary-looking man. He usually wears a sleeveless undershirt and old slacks. His bald spot glints in the hot sun as he scrapes, paints, prunes, and mows. Since he turns his radio up while he works, we used to just wave when we passed by. Other people called in and yelled about politics.

So it was a big surprise one day on our way home from the library when he turned around and said, "I have five kittens. Come and see them." He explained that a mother cat had turned up at his back door asking for food, and when he fed her, she trotted off and fetched her litter. They had moved into his backyard. We went in his gate, but we didn't see any kittens. We saw their mother rush under a bush. The kittens had already dashed away. They'd been born outside and weren't used to people. They were shy , like wild animals.

Mr. Ianelli didn't think he could adopt all of them. He offered us one. That's when I began to wonder how you tame a kitten. What would we do with a kitten who ran off all the time? Could it really be a pet if it was as wild as a squirrel or a robin? I didn't think so.

Any kittens are interesting. Kittens you can't see are fascinating. We got in the habit of going home from the playground, the library, or the store by way of Mr. Ianelli's corner so we could watch them scoot under the fence or vanish into the hedge.

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