Sometimes, even though you’ve done your best to rescue kittens from a bad situation, you don’t succeed, and you never forget the ones you couldn’t catch. In this case I did manage to catch two out of five, and also have my left hand deeply punctured at the knuckle by a kitten who had no intention of being stuffed into a carrier. Every time I look at the scar on my hand, and every time I pass by that spot, I remember him and all those kittens and that night in 1994, and I’m glad I had the chance to rescue at least the two.
With today’s resources I could have done so much better, and every time I encounter another situation I am grateful for the others who rescue today. This story was long enough that I wrote it in two parts, both linked here, and both linked to each other.
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Part One: Kittens in the Night
The favorite dumping spot
One late evening in summer in 1995 I was driving home on a stretch of two-lane back road adjacent to a residential neighborhood near me. Suddenly in the shadows I saw what appeared to be leaves blowing around on the road and I slowed in automatic response.
The leaves slowed and regrouped and turned into a group of various-sized kittens before running to one side of the road and up a slight hill among the underbrush, one or two peeking back out at me. Tiny eyes reflected the fading daylight.
Oh, no, how am I going to catch them all? I thought.
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Part Two: Getting to Know You
Initially, I called these two little bits Sugar, for the bigger guy with lots of white, and Spice, for the little guy with the rich ginger stripes. Though both hid completely when I was in the the room, not even breathing if they could help it, I could tell they were only traumatized by their experiences, and who could blame them? Tossed out from the security of their mother into the wilds of the woods and a paved road with regular traffic, we humans wildly trying to grab them probably instinctively seemed to them less like humans than like prey animals, then a wild storm. These two had lost everything they had known in about two days, and what their world had been replaced with was not at all familiar and totally frightening in its own.
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In 2013 we lost Smudge, the older kitten in this story—I grabbed him from this back road in 1995, and he had the chance to live 18 years with a wonderful person and several fur siblings. I’m so glad I took the time to rescue him and his fur brother Timmy; we can’t save them all, but we can give a better life to the ones we do save.
I originally published this story in April 2012 on The Creative Cat; then found more notes, information and vet records as well as photos to fill out this story and to write another about their socialization.
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The sketch at the top of this post is titled “Big Game Hunter”, drawn in ink from a photograph in 1993. It’s one of the designs in the series of note cards called “Kitties Being Kitties”.
Read more of my stories from decades of rescuing and fostering cats, with a few from other rescuers mixed in: Rescue Stories.
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I’d love to publish an anthology of my own rescue stories entitled, What Are the Chances? featuring this story, and others including the element of pure chance at finding a cat in need. This anthology and others are on my list of Patreon projects because it would take place over time, and support through Patreon would help to support me while I worked. You can read about it here or visit my Patreon page.
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