Someone dumped cats in my neighborhood. People do that a lot around here. Four little motherless kittens took up residence in my parents’ building. We caught three last month but the fourth is still on the lam.
When we caught them, they were terrified, hungry and very hard to capture. I have the wounds to prove how feisty the little grey one was that day.
That was over a month ago.
Today, they live with my parents and are flourishing, growing like little weeds and becoming more confident with each passing day.
We intended to find them homes. In fact, we had found a home for one and had even made arrangements to meet the people. But it quickly became clear that separating these three would be cruel. I grew up with cats and kittens but have never seen three kittens so attached to each other as these guys.
We each took a liking to a kitten so we each sit and cuddle our babies in the evenings.
Oliver is mine. He’s from a different litter than the other two. He’s older and looks out for the small fry like they’re his own. He worries, even becomes anxious if the other two are out of sight. It’s taking longer for him to relax, play and enjoy his luxurious new life.
It feels like a great accomplishment when he relaxes and falls asleep, purring in your arms.
Cinder is my mother’s kitten. He was tiny and very much a baby when he hissed, scratched and bit down on my finger with the might of a baby crocodile the first time we met. I held on for dear life and ran to the box where he continued to bite as I desperately tried to shake him free. He later put the dog in his place, establishing his role as tiny but mighty.
First impressions really do matter.
She rocks him and cares for him like he’s a real baby and he soaks up the attention. Weeks later, Cinder the tiny baby is now putting on weight and is proving himself to be an adventurous little soul.
Cheetoh is my dad’s cat. He’s mischievous and strong and reminds me of a little lion or maybe a flying squirrel as he soars through the air while roughhousing with his brothers.
He loves toys and can’t stand to see someone else have a toy that he wants. And yes, he wants all the toys. He cuddles up with my dad every evening, falling asleep practically on cue while purring so loud you can hear him from across the room.
These babies have brought us much joy. They live with my folks who deal with the daily inconveniences of managing three babies along with their German Shepherd. Fritz adores the babies and thinks they’re his own but plays kind of rough. Cinder seems to think that Fritz is his mother and accepts slobbery baths every chance he gets.
I show up once a day and provide kitty support in the form of food and vet bills. It’s true what they say – it takes a village.
Any time I wonder if we did the right thing keeping these youngsters, I watch how they act when they’re reunited after being apart. They tend to convene, exchange some unspoken cat greetings and groom each other. Sometimes they meow and cling to each other in a way that can only be described as pitiful.
They’re never far apart and happiest together.
As glad as I am to have these guys it is irritating to think of how we came to welcome them into the family.
There are avenues for dealing with unwanted pets that don’t involve abandoning or killing them. Give them away or surrender them to a shelter. Better yet, spay and neuter your pets so that you don’t end up with unwanted youngsters. This is far more cost effective than the alternative option of a decade of kitten and puppy litters. There are even mobile pet clinics that make this more cost effective than traditional vet offices.
I’m sure that none of my friends here would dream of throwing out a box of kittens or pushing the dog that loves them into the road at a stop sign. Still, it never hurts to discuss the terrible consequences of not caring responsibly for an animal.
They do feel pain and sorrow, terror and fear. Many abandoned pets will never know a comfortable life, a full belly or a warm and happy home.
Here’s one last illustration for you. Oliver was very close to being too old to tame when we grabbed him. The top picture is what he looked like that day. The bottom represents days later when he had a belly full of food and was too exhausted to fight his worries a moment longer.
Today he rarely relaxes this much. Instead, he still sometimes runs and hides, always seeking a safe hidey hole for himself and his brothers. I’m hoping he relaxes and learns that he’s safe now but fear he will always be traumatized by the bad times he experienced as a tot.
They’re all little characters and we are glad to work with their insecurities and quirks. I hope they all will someday settle down and feel secure about their new world. Until then, we will continue to help them along.