"Babe," I said, pausing to get hubs attention. "I think there's a kitten in the backyard."
"What? No way," he replied, getting off the couch.
I went to put some shoes on as he walked outside - barefoot. Now, this may not be a big deal to most of you, but our backyard is dirt with the occasional sagebrush and goathead bush. And if you've ever stepped on a goathead, you know that stepping in a lego minefield is preferable.
I come outside to him trying to lure the kitten down from the hill.
"I thought it was a cat and she got her head stuck in one of the holes, but you're right. It's a kitten," he said with a soothing voice so as to not scare the kitten. "Grab some gushy food for her."
I rush into the house, grab a can of gushy food, and rush back out, opening it so the kitten can hear the sound of food opening and smell the fresh treats. She wasn't having anything to do with either of us - food or no. But the neighbor's dog heard us.
"I'm going to try and coax her down so she doesn't run through the hole in the fence." He explained as he slowly moved to corral her toward me. I placed the can on the ledge and got up to catch her. We ended up nabbing her just as the dog started barking.
And then we heard the screams.
Loud cat screams could be heard between scuffles, growling, and more barking. I thought it was the kitten's mother and she was being mauled to death. Hubs jumped over the fence.
"I can't know it died," I yell with a hitch in my voice. I could feel my heart breaking and knew if he told me the cat was dead, I'd have nightmares for weeks, replaying what we could've done differently to save her. I couldn't know she died. He was about to jump over the next fence, to the yard where the dog was, when the owners came out.
"No! Drop it! Stop!" We could hear them yelling at the dog, hear the dog refusing to follow direction. I listened helplessly as they wrestled with their insubordinate dog to get him to release the cat and move away.
"I'm going to come over and get the kitten, is that okay?" Hubs asks over the other neighbor's fence.
My stomach hits the floor. It was a kitten. No way is it still alive. Not with the noise we heard. Tears welled up in the back of my eyes, but I couldn't lose it - we had a rescue to attempt.
Rather than entice the neighbor's dog into attacking him, hubs jumped back over our fence and came inside. We put the first kitten into our spare room with the food, grabbed a pillowcase, he put on shoes and new socks, and we ran out the door. Driving around the block to the house that had the kitten, we quickly knocked on their door, knowing every minute counted, especially when we didn't know the status of the kitten's health.
The family let us in, through their house and into the backyard where we could see the kitten huddled against the filthy doghouse. The father and teenager were trying to get the kitten, but had been unsuccessful.
"You need gloves," he said to me as I walked over. "She keeps trying to attack me."
"I'll be ok," I replied, looking at the tiny ball of bloody fluff. Quickly, I reached out, grabbed her up, and wrapped her into the pillowcase. "Lift up the house so we can make sure there aren't any more."
The guys tilted the house and I swiftly assessed it - no more kittens. "Ok. It's clear. Thanks."
They put the house down and we hurried home. Hubs went to do another check for kittens in our backyard while I took the new one into the bathroom to clean her up and assess the damage. She was covered in poop, dirt, twigs, stickers, and blood. I washed her off as best I could in the warm sink water, combing out debris and checking her little body for punctures or breaks. She seemed okay. Terrified, but okay.
"How is she?" Hubs asks as he poked his head into the bathroom.
"I'm not sure, but she isn't bleeding and nothing seems broken," I reply. "Can you hand me a towel?"
He hands me a big towel we use to dry our cats. I dry off the kitten, being careful of her boney body, still checking to see that she's okay. We bring her into the room where her sister's hiding. I place her gently on the floor to see if she can move - she runs to hide in the corner under the cat tree.
"Okay, nothing seems broken, she's not bleeding, and she's walking. I think she's okay, but we should monitor her." I explain to the hubs, even though I know he already knows all this. It makes me feel better to say it aloud. "I don't know that a trip to kitty ER would be helpful at this point." Kitty ER is an hour away and cats are resilient, I remind myself.
"Holy crap. Did you see how much the black one ate?" Hubs says as he brings the half-eaten can of food over.
"Wow. She was starving." I reply, looking at the can and back at the kitten. Her body from shoulder to hip was the size of that can, and she'd eaten half of it. "What are we going to do with them? I can't do long-haired cats, and I don't know that our cats will be okay with them."
"I don't know. Don't you have a friend that fosters?"
I picked up the one that I'd cleaned and nestled her under my shirt, against my chest. It's the second warmest part of my body, and the only place I could put her and still move about. She almost immediately fell asleep. Placing her sister next to her for warmth, she fell asleep too. I melted.
Calling my friend, we made arrangements for her to take them the next night and she told me how to care for them in the meantime as it's been 10 years since I've been around kittens.
We had to bottle feed the grey one that night. She was in too much pain and shock to do anything but lay in my shirt and drink from the bottle. The next day, they were both eating gushy food and exploring the room, but the grey one still preferred sleeping on my chest over anything else. A few hours before we were scheduled to leave, we placed them back in the room and I ugly cried against hubs shoulder.
"Babe, we're doing the right thing." He explained, rubbing my hair. "I want to just say, let's keep them, but that wouldn't be what's best for them. It would just be the easy thing now. She's going to take good care of them, and they're going to be adopted into a good home. We just have to believe that."
"I" - sob - "know," I blew my nose. "I know that, I'm okay with it all. It just hurts. And I want to be the one who hears their first purrs, who sees them play, to watch them grow into spoiled, fat cats. But I can't, and I know that."
We spent the next few hours scouring the neighborhood for their mother and other kittens to no avail. Returning to the house, we brought them back out to the living room to get love, explore, and snuggle before taking them to my friend's house.
Currently, they're playing, purring, and doing all the things spoiled kittens should be doing while in the care of my dear friend. They will spend the time they need with her, see the vet, get spayed, and be adopted together.
|Smokey in my shirt|
|Soot and angry Princess|
|Hubs and Soot|
|Smokey and Soot after rescue|