Ok, I need to fess up:
I’ve rescued a little kitten. David discovered it (a “her,” I think) a little over a week before we broke up. She’d been living underneath the house. No mother or siblings were discovered. She was hunting bugs in the evening, and trying her level best. But we could tell that she was starving – you could see the prominent ribs beneath her dark fur when you shone a light on her.
David wanted to feed her; I balked. The last thing I wanted to do was to take care of a tiny (and I do mean *tiny* – she might have been 5-6 weeks old) kitten. A whole slew of responsibilities comes with a stray kitten of that age: The feeding; the potential for spreading disease in the house; the fleas and other parasites; the vet bill – the list goes on. David was insistent. “We can just put some food and water down for it. We don’t have to adopt it.” What he didn’t realize is my own philosophy: If you take the responsibility for feeding an animal, you also take the responsibility for all aspects of its life. There are exceptions of course (wild critters), but with a domesticated animal that should be loved and cared for, I could not deny helping it as much as I could once I decided to feed it.
And so it goes. We put out food for her. She was cautious, but eventually came to expect the handouts. After David and I broke up, I had thought that I needed to find a rescue org to take her. A few calls, and I discovered that they were full up (kitten season means tons of rescues). I knew I had to do this on my own.
I had been feeding her every evening – she was so ravenous that she gulped down her food (I gave her some of my homemade dog food, which does well for cats, too, along with some of the dry cat food I have for Barnie and Miles). I was worried that she might choke, but I could also see that she was improving. I made plans to rescue (capture) her.
She quickly became used to my presence while she ate. I stood closer to the food and water each evening. Moving slowly, I sidled closer until she hissed and moved away from her food – that was her tolerance level. Then, I would leave her to her food in peace. Gradually, she accepted my presence, then allowed my hand to be near. Then, one evening, she boldly head-bumped my hand! That led to more petting and interaction, which she was also starving for.
The plan was set. I could *not* risk exposing the other animals to anything she might be carrying, so I cleared the 2nd bathroom of all that I needed, and set up litter box, food, water, toys and a place for her to sleep. The sink was filled with tepid water and Dawn dishwashing liquid (great for killing fleas, since she was too small for Capstar) and I laid two flea combs nearby. I put the dogs in their crates and made sure the other cats were out of the way. I donned a pair of work gloves, and went outside with the expected food (she had actually been waiting for me at the stairs of the porch). As she was eating and purring loudly, I stroked her fur with my gloved hand, then quickly snatched her by the scruff of her neck, placed her in the small carrier I prepared, then whisked her into the house and to the bathroom.
She hardly protested at all – didn’t even fight me. I realized that she might be worse off than I thought. What kitten who never interacted with a human wouldn’t fight? I held her with my gloved hands and went to work, coming the fleas out of her coat, and drowning them in the sudsy water. Then, I bathed her, trying to get the fleas I missed. She protested with quiet meows, but did not fight. This worried me. I scrubbed her, rinsed her off, then wrapped her in a large towel to dry her off.
I could feel her little body trembling – from fear, from being dunked in water – but she was also purring. This is also a fear response, but she had also purred quite loudly while eating, so I took this as a good sign. I kept her warm while I dried her fur, which didn’t take long.
She has a very dark fur. At first, I thought it was black, and it still might be, but I detected a bit of rich, chocolate brown around her face in the light. Could be a kitten thing, but dark brown kitties are rare, so it would be nice if that was her color.
I cuddled and petted her and made soothing sounds. She shaking stopped, but the purring did not. I set her down to eat, which she did with abandon. I left the bathroom and closed the door with the light on. Later that evening, I checked on her. She was crouched on the floor, perhaps not realizing the bed I made for her with placing a soft towel in the carrier and taking the door off. She hissed quietly as I entered. I sat on the toilet and picked her up. She did not fight, but she did look better. I saw that she ate well, while I cuddled her and she began to purr. I then put her in the litter box to see how she would react. She crouched in it, nothing more. I decided to fight that battle another time, so I left her alone for the night, shutting the door after turning off the light.
I will call the vet tomorrow to make an appointment to have her checked out this weekend. I’ll also bathe her again, to be sure I’ve gotten rid of *all* of the fleas (they’re sneaky little bastards).
Her arrival just before my breakup with Dave was serendipitous, and my focus on caring for her has helped me to forget the pain of my relationship. It’s almost as if I were handed a reward for ending it. Perhaps at some point I will explain what happened between David and I. But not now.
Now, I need to think of a name to give her. I have thought of a few:
- Eartha Kitten – love this one!
- Dolce – because she is so sweet
- Mika – I love the name
- Merlo – saw this name and liked it
- Cinder – I like this one, too
- Tosca – I have two pets with names that start with “B”; two whose names start with “M” and one that starts with “T” – need to even it out, I think.
- Bella – she will be a beautiful adult, I think. She seems to have a little Oriental in her – slightly pointed face, long legs and body.
- Luna – I first saw her when the moon was out; don’t remember which phase
- Salem – uh, black cat?
Feel free to chime in – any ideas on a name?