So January 28th it was Saturday and I felt desperate. After all , as the fireman pointed out it was now two weeks since Pickle had “disappeared” . I felt alone and at fault. All the crazy events that my search had precipitated, happened to ingrain it without a doubt that yes in fact Pickle’s death was my fault.. These also made me feel like I might start to lose my mind.
I needed a kitten filler. I got in my truck that morning and headed for Forney and Terrell. Thats where Angela pulled most of her orphaned cats and kittens. Along the way, truck started making raspy noises in its wheels. I understood that it was likely brake pads wearing out.
It made sense to turn around right then, but I wasnt going to let serendipity stop me and plugged ahead.
As usual I made a few loops before I reached my destination. Once i did reach it I still paced back and forth not knowing that the tiny shed blocked off by tall fencing was it… if not for a stop at a house in the neighborhood across the street. I heard some voices outside within and after a short exchange of subdued hollering, I knew that cats dont typically come here and that in fact there is no visitor entrance to view the few pups they had. Scratching my head I rerouted for Fourney. Along the way, no other than Angela calls me up and follows up on a text I briefly glanced at this morning. Turns out a woman has a mom cat who just gave birth and needs to get rid of both mom and kittens.. will I foster?
The woman in charge of this tiny shelter in Fourney lead me past some dogs. Two adult cats were in the garage / back room looking at us. I wasnt interested in adult cats and that was that, although the smaller female under quarantine seemed sweet. She was off limits for now. Good thing because in my state of mind I might have taken her out of mixed guilt/ loneliness. she mentioned another shelter in Mesquite thats much bigger, but would I wait about an hour before they open by the time I get there? No, I decided.
I wasnt giving up without a fight, so I found yet another shelter in Dallas en route. It looked and smelled of pet hospital run by a large community of predominantly blacks. I immediately knew this place likes to boss people around as a woman opened a warm welcome to me for figuring out they do medical procedures here.
Very quickly I realized the medical procedures are mostly spaying and neutering. They did have some little kittens and some were grey. I knew waiting 8 weeks is too long to socialize, but thats the minimum castration age and so its their policy.
Surprisingly Angela told me she has a good rapor with them and will pull a kitten for me if I want. good to know. Angela is spay/neuter hungry herself though. Most people are.
Will I foster? You see, I didnt really feel like being a puppet of some adoption agency. I call the woman with the mom and 3 kittens and she isnt giving them up for free. I tell Angela and she wants nothing to do with that. Thats my opportunity, but wait…I take a couple hours back in my nook between appointments to bite my nails over a dark picture of a calico torty face staring quietly at me. I like her demeanor and she might be good quite company herself, which might be what I need. I figure the kittens may have that look and demeanor, but also a couple are grey… I can sell the kittens and recoup my money easily since its off season on kitten deliveries.
I vacillate between committing and canceling a few times. I want to wait to make this drive so I can see them and another litter from her other pregnant cat but the lady says another woman wants to pick them up if I dont. finally I give in and take my raspy truck on another almost hour long commute.
its a trailer park/mobile home park and the interior smells musty of mixed animals. Mom is frantically hiding. its 4 kittens? the woman is mystified at my observation . she hasnt dealt with delayed deliveries before. However, she feels moms belly and says she might have more coming. mom makes an escape once again. finally we find the mom and lady keeps grabbing her not gingerly at all around the waist before she gets a good hold to put her inside the crate..
mom is a kitten herself only one year old.
That afternoon and Sunday mom is silent and not eating. obviously scared of me. Wrong.. I forgot about the possibility of yet another kitten undelivered. That night around 12am I walk up to the mom yet again resting at a distance from her kittens , this time on the bathroom floor. Motherhood must be hard work no doubt. But she looks really worn out, exhausted and not even interested in running from me. Quite the opposite, as I speak to her she lets out guttural undertones in response. She is not well, it hits me… I place the crate with the kittens next to her and she walks in. That night I let the hospital take her life, weighing the odds of her recovery after a $20oo bill. No I still dont regret that decision. but I do feel really bad for her at times, a little suffering animal, a first time mom and a dedicated one at that, a soft spoken fur ball.
What comes next, was and still is quite a trial and victory is just the other side of catastrophic failure.. I just keep on flipping the dice, a chess match with life herself.
Little mouse was the girl of the two grey kittens. she was the first to valiantly learn to suck on the bottle. she was the first to refuse to suck… her diarrhea just kept dripping the whole treacherous 6 weeks I had her. I really cant remember having to stimulate her, unlike the three other kittens.
she and orange opened their eyes few days before the other two at the end of their first week.
I loved her spirit. She was undaunted, determined to get what she wants. Unfortunately, diarrhea messed up her appetite and her growth stifled at two weeks of age. she remained a tiny midget, most of the time needing to be force-fed with tubes and then syringes, but those occasions she got hungry she was always the first to let out a piercing scream inside the baby’s play pen, I got them just short of their third week birthday. even before I got close she was well on her way to the summit, purposely reaching with her tiny hands up towards me.
Tiny mouse, Im so sorry I started giving up on you. I so regret this now. I didnt even consciously understand my resignation. I so wish I could shower you with love you craved desperately. Im sorry I ceased to understand it as such. . I made an assumption, that despite your tiny presence you were ready to let go of mommy and be a big girl in tiny frame. I was so wrong as I see now how your giant sister still clings to my chin for comfort with her tiny mouth. You loved doing that too and I should have let you. I should have dropped that silly squash I was so set on devouring and devote all my attention to your tiny helpless suffering presence. I wish I asked more questions of myself when I decided it was ok to let you be damp after each instance of countless sit baths I put you through to keep you clean and to protect your siblings from plagues of germs that just wouldnt ease their hold on you.
I wanted to keep you hydrated and this refusal to blow dry you progressed from giving you warm baths of clay, honey and charcoal., which you settled into once I held you still and you realized it felt good as long as you remained submerged. Ofcourse afterwards I would wrap you in layers and layers of towels like a well insulated burrito.
I assumed that would keep you warm. Never thought of getting a thermometer. There are so many things i dont understand why I didnt think to question then. Now its too late. Like when you shivered that day and then I saw you walk slowly I just brushed it aside like you are just responding to food in much the same way your sister did. Or did I have unreasonable fear of the hospital euthanizing you since you’d been there one too many times already? Not sure. My mind is still that of one with mental illness. I know you loved me and you purred that last time I grabbed you , once I saw you stare in front of you , this time without that usual pricing focus. Then I felt scared and I cried and carried you off to that hospital yet again. Im sorry and I miss you. I always will. I feel lonely, coming to realize my mind is unreliable. I simply shouldnt allow myself to be the primary care taker, but on the other hand how else will I learn to think on my feet?
You were sharp. I see you staring into my eyes with yours, the size of a tiny mouse and then reaching towards me and giving me a tiny loving bite on my nose. I couldnt believe you did that! as tiny and miserable and so young , you had that look in your eyes and you watched everyone closely, and turned your tiny head to observe me as I baby talked to your siblings twice and then 3 times your size. You were the boss and when you did have the strength , you would just plow your head right smack into the middle of the dish, paying no heed whatsoever that your brother had already occupied it and leaving him to sit and wait patiently.
One thing I can say is that all your siblings loved you dearly. They took care of you ever so gingerly , gave you kisses and hugs endlessly. Your whole lot melted my heart with how amiable and caring you were amongst one another. They kept loving you and huddling all around you even though you very rarely felt like playing. I could see you basking in their cuddles and I hope experiencing such free flowing love was a mission accomplished for your soul.
I wish you and Pickle were here with me now and that you could meet. I wonder what your relationship would be like. I miss you. I missed him that day you died. I know its ok to miss him and yet I kept projecting his image onto you and your siblings. I was thinking how none of you really connect with me, even thou I kept reminding myself that you, at least had a larger than life personality, but you were ill. thats how it goes when you are ill, personality kind of takes a hike.
Then later once I let you guys run free in your little heated room, you would let out piercing scream as you headed straight for me, as I made my way towards the door Thats when you were hungry and I felt so excited to see you feeling that way… You would walk right up my shoes and socks in your desperate determination to get my attention. Maybe you were also wanting cuddles.. I will never know. I was determined on keeping you alive little mouse. You know that…. One time I started crying in earnest as I saw you listless and refusing to eat yet again in my hands. I told you I love you and you perked up , looked right into my eyes and started purring. My heart melted then.
Where did you come from you tiny alien? I feel so lucky to have had these brief encounters with out of this world animal intelligence,. pickle and now you…
What a shame that I just keep repeating my habitual mistakes and losing you before You get to grow up and established on this crazy planet. Us would be a tiny paradise,. tiny paradise, but once again Im delirious , its obviously just me and my food addiction.
Your siblings dont have anything close to the unspoken dialogue you and I somehow shared. I dont blame them. Also, I spent a lot more time cuddling with you and let them be, playing amongst themselves, as content as they were to do so. They certainly are great buds, especially the boys.
Now, they are growing accustomed to my desire to hold them and even join their games. All three have learned to purr when I hold them and even when I look at them or move close. Its nice, but I still feel quite a bit of distance, like Im an object that satisfies them in certain ways, no real communication happens. They dont respond to my voice although Im sure they would eventually. It just feels contrived, like they belong to someone else.
I do wonder if over the course of this next week I might still seriously consider keeping them. I want them to have best chances of getting adopted and they are already becoming more cat like than kitten at the ripe age of 7 weeks.