I have been gone for a bit. Sometimes life is like that, giving us more stories to share if we can find the time to write them.
On Monday, we were walking the big puppies out to the park. I heard a noise that sounded oddly familiar as we walked past the house on the corner and crossed the busy street, but Mr. Bryant and I were chatting and catching up so I didn't notice it too much - but as it continued I thought - What is that? It sounds like a bird, making a sound like a cat. Probably a mockingbird. I looked around at the big oak trees out of curiosity, but didn't see anything. The sound persisted, though - and when we got across the street I turned around and looked back. There, near the neighbors bushes, was a tiny teeny itty bitty little black kitten, crying her heart out. She was looking right at us, and crying with all her heart, little tiny cries. Mr. Bryant and I looked at each other, looked at the big puppies on our leads, and quickly came back across the road - because by this time that tiny little thing had started purposefully coming towards us, crying all the while.
As we got back across the street, the kitten hopped up on the neighbors steps and stood her ground, her front legs firmly planted, crying and crying.
"She is so tiny!" "She isn't afraid of the puppies." "She is desperate." "She must be starving."
Mr. Bryant held both puppies and I went to the neighbors door and knocked and knocked. Our lovely young neighbor came to the door and I told her, "You have a kitten out on your steps. It looks like she is starving!" "Oh my goodness, I thought I saw a kitten, but when I drove by this evening it wasn't there." "Well it is there now, and super hungry." "I have a friend that is a vet, I bet she will help me." "Great! You should feed it tonight though, and then try to catch it."
We walked towards the steps together, and the little kitten ducked under them and then looked out at us both, crying plaintively. "What do you feed a kitten this old, do you know?" "Sure, give it some tuna and milk, I think. And water, lots of water. After you feed it you can probably catch it, but be sure to hold it by the scruff of the neck, because it will be afraid and try to bite you."
It didn't even look like the kittens claws were fully developed yet, and she was still meowing while we were talking. Our neighbor went into the house to get food, and we waited until she came back out before we continued our walk. We didn't want that little one coming out onto the road and getting smashed.
As we continued our walk, we talked about how the kitten could have shown up at such an odd spot, the intersection of two busy streets, with no other kittens, no mother cat around, nothing. Mr. Bryant got a bit angry as he talked about the kind of people that would throw a kitten out of the car to fend for itself, especially one this tiny. Good GRIEF. We decided that it was probably about five weeks old. When we came back by the steps there was an empty food dish on the steps, and I was relived that the kitten was going to find a new home in the morning.
* * * *
Two days later, we were taking the puppies out again, about the same time of day - and out from the steps came the kitten! Crying and looking at us, bolder about coming onto the street and not being fearful of the big puppies at all. Mr. Bryant and I were stunned. "Why didn't she get the kitten?" "You know, I don't think she knows how to catch it. I thought she seemed really tentative about that." "It looks like she isn't home and that kitten is HUNGRY." "What do you want to do?" "I will put the dogs back in the yard and bring some food. You stay with the kitten so it doesn't come out in the road."
So I stayed, and talked to the little kitten. She looked right at me, crying softly, letting me know that she needed help please, help please. Mr. Bryant came back with milk and tuna, and as I put it into the little bowl the kitten attacked it ravenously. She was so hungry she almost attacked my hand. Mr. Bryant and I watched her eat, and discussed what to do. The neighbor wasn't home, and Mr. Bryant didn't want to have the kitten follow us out into the traffic.
"Well, she obviously hasn't taken her to the vet yet, because she probably is just afraid to catch her." "How do you know it is a 'she'?" "I don't, but she looks like a little girl to me. Look, I could pick her up right now." "Well pick her up then!" "What will we do with her?"
"I don't know honey," Mr. Bryant said, "but if you are going to save this little kitten, SAVE IT."
I reached down and picked up the kitten, who promptly bit my hand. I held her firmly against me and she settled down and got real still. We walked back to the house, and Mr. Bryant told me to wait outside the gate while he put up the puppies. I petted the little kittens head, scratching behind her ears. When Mr. Bryant motioned me to come in he had already set up Chrissie's big crate in the garage. We put water and a litter box (made from a shoe box lid) into the crate along with a big soft pet cushion (we have a few!) and a dish of kitten chow. By this time I was petting the kitten and she was still very quiet in my hand. I put her onto the pillow and she immediately went to the food dish and started chowing down.
We went and got those puppies that were SO curious and SO ready for their walk, and off we went. The neighbor was home by now, so we stopped and knocked.
"We have the kitten." "Oh thank goodness! I wondered what had happened! You know, I have been calling her Opal, and I was concerned when I looked for her and she wasn't anywhere around."
We explained that we caught her because we were concerned about her following us. She said that she was so glad we had her, because she was honestly a bit afraid of cats, and the kitten had tried to attack her hand over the food. She was concerned that it might be sick. I told her that I honestly believed that she was afraid, and starving. We agreed that I would bring her the kitten in the morning, all ready for a trip to the vet.
When we got home I put the cat carrier into the crate. "There you go Opal. Maybe you can sleep there in the carrier. Nothing to fear tonight."
The next morning I went out to get the kitten. She had slept ON the cat carrier, but wasn't anxious or frantic. She had used the litter box, eaten most of the food, and was ready to be petted and held. Mr. Bryant was angry all over again. "This isn't a wild kitten, that's for sure. It would never be comfortable with people all ready. This is such a tiny little thing that it shouldn't be away from its mother."
The kitten was chasing my finger and letting me pet her, such a sweetie.
Into the carrier and off to the neighbors, who said she was taking the kitten to the vet that morning. The next afternoon, a full week after we first saw the kitten, I stopped by to ask how things had gone. She invited me in and there, in the back room playing on the floor, was the kitten in question. "Oh my goodness. They wouldn't take her?"
"None of the no-kill shelters have any space. They loved her at the vets, and said she was JUST six weeks old. They gave her the first shots, de-wormed her, gave her flea treatment, tested her for everything and gave her a clean bill of health. But we haven't found her a home yet. I am giving myself until Tuesday to find a home for her. I am asking everyone."
"We will ask too."
So here is Opal. Precious, sweet, all black from head to toe. Fighting for her life. Let me know if you know anyone that wants a kitten.