Wednesday afternoon, I received a frantic call from a very dear friend who had gone out to dinner with her family on the previous evening. As they exited the restaurant, they were stopped in their tracks when they spotted a tiny kitten, crying and gesturing as if she wanted to be helped, but too frightened to allow herself to be petted.
My friend and her family reluctantly left the kitten at the front entrance of the restaurant, but my friend could not sleep that night. She was filled with remorse because she hadn't tried to catch the kitten and take it home with her.
So . . . she called me the next day. Once I know about a situation such as this, I cannot stop thinking about it until I've tried to do something to help the animal in need. I called the restaurant, which is a couple towns away from mine, and asked about the kitten. The manager affirmed there was indeed a tiny kitten eating from the dumpster at night and hiding in the shrubs during the day. She suggested the kitten was wild and could not be caught.
There's never been a save-the-kitten challenge that I've ignored. I'm always aware of all the reasons I shouldn't get involved, one of which is the fact I have a houseful of cats now. Under no circumstances do I want or need another cat - not even a darling, abandoned kitten. But, casting good sense and logic aside, I told my spouse I was going on a kitten rescue mission. He has learned to just say "goodbye and be careful". After a 25 minute drive, I arrived at the restaurant and began searching for the kitten. I didn't see her anywhere but I did disturb the ducks and geese in the creek behind the restaurant and they soundly scolded me as I walked near their habitat.
I walked around the building and was stunned to find a tiny turtle sitting in the middle of the parking lot. What was a baby turtle doing there? I scooped him up and placed him in the cat carrier I'd brought with me. I never expected he'd be able to get out of it, but when I went back to the van to check on him, he was out of the carrier and sitting on the back seat looking around. Since holding him in the carrier hadn't worked, I decided to put him in the cat food filled bowl I'd brought along. For an instant I considered taking the turtle home with me, but the idea of a wild baby turtle living out his life in a glass bowl was not appealing to me and I'm sure it would not have been his choice. So I took him down to the creek and released him where he'd be safer - I hoped.
As I was releasing the baby turtle, I became aware that a horse was staring at me from inside a paddock, directly to the right of the restaurant. The horse's name is Judy and she pulls a vintage carriage through the town on weekends and gives rides to tourists. I've petted her and fed her apples and carrots in the past. I was in a silly mood and asked Judy if she had seen a tiny kitten in the vicinity, and as I live and breathe . . . Judy shook her head up and down as if to answer me in the affirmative. That sounds crazy, right? But it's absolutely true.
I talked to Judy for awhile, petted her, and then navigated to the far side of the building in hopes of finding the lonely kitten. To my shock and dismay, I found another baby turtle on the pavement. I carefully scooped him up and carried him down the bank to the creek where I'd released the other turtle. I thought if I kept finding baby turtles and having to release them, I was never going to have time to find that kitten. I hoped the turtles would "connect" and be companions. I looked around to make sure there were no other baby turtles in need. Finding none, I continued my search for the kitten.
I was about to give up when I saw a tiny calico ball of fur jump out of the bushes. Right behind her was a woman giving chase. The woman's daughter joined her mother and I asked them to let me get my carrier from the van and see if the three of us could save the kitten. The woman caught the kitten for an instant, but the kitten panicked and bit the woman on the hand, drawing blood. My hopes for saving this little one began to evaporate. I wasn't sure I could save a frightened, biting, feral kitten, but I had to try.
The woman and her daughter finally gave up and left. I was a bit relieved, because it has always been my experience that a quiet gentle approach is the best to use with a frightened kitten or cat. So I talked softly to the kitten, coaxed her to eat from the bowl I'd brought (sans turtles) and when she was calm enough to not run from me, I slowly moved the bowl into the carrier. It took a few minutes before she was brave enough to go inside the carrier. When she did, I simply closed the door behind her - no panic and no biting. She didn't make any fuss at all. I thought maybe she was relieved that her days of fending for herself were over. I went inside the restaurant and talked to the manager and told her I had caught the kitten and that I would do everything I could to find her a loving home. The manager said she was shocked I'd been able to catch the kitten - but then, she doesn't know me and has no idea how persistent I can be.
To my great relief, the kitten has begun to trust me. She doesn't bite, but purrs in contentment when stroked. It took hours of soft words and patience before she would trust me enough to allow me to touch her. Once she realized I wasn't going to harm her, she decided she'd even allow me to hold and cuddle her. I'm amazed that such a tiny kitten had the instinct to keep herself alive and away from predators.
She and I have bonded and I've fallen in love with her. But then, I've instantly loved any kitten I've ever met. She'll be going up for adoption as soon as I'm sure she's healthy. I'll also make sure she receives the necessary vaccinations. That's always an expensive proposition, but she needs help and I think she's certainly worth the effort. This abandoned kitten story will have a happy ending. I've named her ANNIE and that's her picture above. Look at those trusting little eyes. Doesn't she have pretty markings?