"I was so much older then, I'm younger than that, now" (B. Dylan)
My Eleven Year Old Kitten
I WAS SO MUCH OLDER THEN, I’M YOUNGER THAN THAT NOW.
I had “had it!!” The old white cat with a torn up ear must be saved and I was the one to do it. Days passed; I’d walk by and see that sweet old cat laying in the sun, blind in one eye, flea bitten and being eaten away with what I suspected/ knew was cancer. He lived near me in a house that looked reasonably respectable. How could that cat be in such bad condition?
My best friend, Al, returned home from work to find me waiting impatiently for him. I wanted him to accompany me so that we could go, in force, to save the old cat. We marched down the street and around the block searching for the cat as we neared the house which, unfortunately for him, was his home. My mission was to take the cat to my veterinarian no matter what his “owners” said, or how they felt.
We searched around the house, and the surrounding area, including the landscaping across the street where we'd occasionally see him. There was no old white cat in sight. I entered the yard and almost tripped over the smallest, skinniest, most pitiful sight I’d seen in an awfully long time. There at my feet and baking in the heat of direct sun on a blistering summer day, was a little white cat. She raised her head just the littlest bit and issued forth a sorrowful, almost inaudible “mew.”
I gently picked up the pathetic little cat and with great determination, walked up to the house, loudly knocked on the door. When the occupant opened the door, I asked if the deathly ill kitten I held in my arms was hers. She replied, “Yes, that’s Mom Cat.”
“What?” I asked incredulously.
“She’s ours. She had 6 kittens a few months ago."
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The tiny thing in my arms had 6 kittens? She was no more than a kitten herself. How could this wisp of a cat have had kittens? There was nothing of her to nourish them. No wonder she was so depleted. But it did explain that funny little sound, only mother cats make, that she uttered as I tried to comfort her. I believe she knew I was trying to help her.
Well, now I was doubly determined. “I’m taking her to my veterinarian and when I return, we’re taking the old white cat, too. I’m sure he has a cancerous ear and an eye infection. I’ll let you know how they’re doing.” The woman could say nothing as I made no attempt to hide my fury at the horrible condition of her "pets."
With that, I turned and walked away holding the kitten in my arms. I reached home and gave her water. She drank and drank, all the while making those little mom cat sounds. As I held her and talked to her, stroking her little head, she lifted a paw and placed it on my nose.
It was hot and she was weak…time was of the essence. I called my veterinarian and said, “I’ve got an emergency case, can you take us?” I just knew that hours were all that remained for her if something wasn’t done quickly.
“Yes!” was the answer I got…we have great veterinarians!
The little one was extremely ill and close to death. She ended up staying at the Veterinary Hospital for 7 days and nights, needing incredible amounts of antibiotics and hydration and all kinds of intervention to save her life. There were several times when our doctors warned us that there might not be anything they could do to save her. She was on the verge. Of course, I urged them to do any and everything necessary to save her sweet life. Thankfully, with divine intervention, she pulled through.
I knew that I could not return ‘Little One’ to her former life. There was no way. She needed protection and she needed lots of medical attention. She would need oral medications for 6 weeks, twice a day. With calculated intent, I called the people where she lived and told them how expensive were the medications and how long the treatment period would be for the little kitty. They didn’t feel they were equal to the task, (I knew that,) and asked if I’d like to adopt Mom Cat. (This was my plan all along.) Gladly, I said, “Yes, I’ll take care of her….don’t worry!”
Seemingly endless bouts of medicating followed. Two oral meds in the morning and two in the evening for six weeks! Not an easy task. In the beginning she was so weak that all she did was lay on my bed all day long. I’d encourage her to eat and drink; sometimes having to use a syringe in order to keep her fluid levels up and give her nourishment. For the first three weeks, I’d have to carry her to the litter box. I covered her with blankets, checking on her throughout the day. She always purred and placed her paw on my face as I leaned near to talk to her.
Days passed and the little one became stronger. Pretty soon she was on her feet, grooming herself and, for the first time, she noticed that there were other cats in the house. Steadily, she improved, gaining strength with each day. I could see the weight she steadily gained, and her fur took on a sheen which had not been there when I found her.
Now she is scampering about, running all over the house. Everything she encounters is exciting, challenging. She’s playful, pouncing on the other cats, chasing dust bunnies, exploring about.
Because of her tough past life and how little help she received from her former humans, she never really was able to grow to become a full sized cat. It’s hard to imagine this small creature nurturing 6 kittens. Little One looks like a kitten. Her teeth and claws are tiny and her body is not that of a normally developed adult cat. Through all of this, though, she’s as strong as an ox and has put on lots of ounces! Her eyes shine, her coat is sleek. She runs all around, slipping and sliding on the floor, jumping on all surfaces, even bounding from coffee table to “tall boy” to the sills of the windows in my vaulted ceiling. She has energy to spare, much like that well known bunny we’re all familiar with. She feels she owns my home, as she taunts my other house cats. They, with great patience, tolerate her kitten like exuberance. “Little One” rules the roost. She can do no wrong, even when she is a curtain climbing maniac. Her joy in newfound kitten hood is wonderful to behold. Every time I watch her play, so delighted in life, I am reminded of just how close to leaving this life my Little One was.
I smile. “We have a kitten again!”
Today, Little One couldn’t be happier. She owns the place. All day long, life unfolds for her as if for the first time. She is the kitten she never got to be. Her kittens have grown to be twice her size, all living in the area. Three remain at Little One’s former home. I check on them from time to time. I tried to familiarize myself with the three but have not been successful. At least, I can keep an eye out for their safety and health.
The old white cat whose forlorn appearance caused me to search that day, is also coming along fine. His name is ‘Sunny.” We were able, finally, to locate him and take him to the animal hospital. In the capable hands of our wonderful veterinarians, Sunny underwent surgery and he now sports the ‘Van Gogh’ look. Sunny lives indoors only now.