Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Rescue Story: Just a Stop on the Way

A little orange kitten!
A little orange kitten!

I’VE GONE MAD, I thought. I was really only musing how it would be to have an orange boy again, not seriously thinking about new felines with seven already, two of them geriatric, but here one shows up in my front yard one morning? It’s true, and the friendly orange kitten looked totally sweet in all that mint green and white in the bathroom in addition to all those black cats and it might seem as if he showed up because he was supposed to be here. But it turns out I was only a stop on his way to his forever family, so I let him go to the best home he could ever have and I have the joy of hearing how much they love him all the time. Really, this kitten was one of the easiest rescues and adoptions I’ve ever known, showing up in my front yard and within days charming the hearts of a family I knew well and going home to live with them. March 31 is the anniversary of his really super-easy rescue in 2011.

. . . . . . .

Walking past my front door one drizzly morning on the way to the kitchen I saw movement under my spruce, and seeing a red tone to what looked like a rounded little body I thought it was the squirrel staging an assault on the bird feeder, not at all unusual. But in the seconds that passed as I walked into the kitchen my mind put together more information on pattern, shape, size and color and I knew that was not our pesky squirrel, the little animal was a cat! Racing to the dining room window I looked under the branches and did indeed see an orange cat. Oh, I thought, it’s Lucky, the orange cat from up the street. But what was he doing under my spruce? He never came down this far. He looked funny. Was he okay?

Then a kitten took off and raced across the street, not a good idea since going to school and work time is busy on this narrow two-way hilly street and I ran back to the door to see better what the little guy was up to, hand on the doorknob, ready to run outside if necessary.

The neighbor kids were coming out their front door and down the front steps and the kitten ran to meet them as if he’d known them all his life. They reached down to pet him and I wondered if they’d adopted another cat and it had gotten outdoors. But they walked past the kitten and started down the sidewalk to their bus stop on the next street over. The kitten started following, I was worried—what would happen to the kitten? Where did it belong? Was it wandering farther from its home in following the kids? It looked to be about four months old, and I had never seen it before. Had it escaped when other children went to school that morning? Was that why it was so friendly with these children?

As I watched and wondered, ready to run out and grab the kitten before it followed them farther though I was…dressed in my purple fleece bathrobe I would have faced the indignity of chasing a little orange kitten down the street in the rain in my bare feet but preferred not to, the kids came back. The kitten ran back under the spruce, then back over to the kids, tail high and bouncing along, obviously having a great time with this game. Apparently the parents decided to drive their kids, possibly they’d missed the bus and that was why they didn’t stop to play with the kitten or find out more about it. The kitten ran over to them as the kids got in the car then back under the spruce, then as my neighbor came out the kitten ran across again and danced all over the porch and rubbed on the guy’s legs and led him down the sidewalk and steps, then ran back again as the kitten was shooed away from the car so it could pull away. Their car left and I stepped out on my porch, which he didn’t seem to notice or care about, and called to him under the spruce watching the house across the street as if waiting to start the game all over again.

He looked at me, flipped his tail and ran across the street, ran back, came toward me, hesitated a bit, ran back and forth again and came closer this time, but he was only playing. His eyes were round, his tail was high, his paws barely touched the ground. After all these years I’m pretty good at grabbing cats without warning and before they realize it, but I didn’t have to put on any special moves for this one, all I had to do was stand there and wait for him to decide he was ready. He was snuggling his damp fur into the purple fleece and nuzzling my hands and purring in short order.

Upstairs we went, past Cookie and Kelly who’d been watching the whole thing out the front window, and the Four and Mimi wondering what was up then smelling him and following me to the bathroom, where I closed the door before anyone could follow me in. He looked to be recently neutered, so he may have been a recent adoption. He still had his baby teeth and his tail still had that slender pointed shape typical of kitten tails, yet he was beginning to develop some muscle. And he was pure love. If someone was missing this kitten, as I suspected, I was sure they’d be looking for him.

He diligently used the litterbox first thing and proceeded to eat everything in sight, as kittens do. He had eaten recently enough and was not famished. The weather had been wet and messy outdoors but he didn’t look too dirty, only wet. He had not been out there long.

And he was obviously very much accustomed to living in a home and with people, very affectionate and loving a lap. I guessed he had lived in a home with young children judging by the way he ran after the neighbor kids. I made signs to put up on the telephone poles, let the local police know, and posted him on the shelter websites, and wrote a little article about him with photos to post here, on The Creative Cat and share on social media. Early that afternoon I took him to the vet to be scanned for a chip, which was negative. As the kids came home from school I talked to them for surely if this cat had lived with children they would know, but they’d never seen him and didn’t know any friends who’d adopted a kitten recently. It was the last day of the month, time for moving, and we had many rentals in the neighborhood. I’d come into possession of more than one cat that had been left behind, though I’d reunited one person who came back looking for her cat. That was even more difficult to track down, but the signs on the telephone poles were usually the key to catching people coming back to the neighborhood to find their lost cat.

It really is all about me.
It really is all about me.

By the end of the day, I still had very nice a kitten in my bathroom. As I had with each cat that had come into my life I played with him and cuddled him, and wondered if he was meant to stay. I was down to seven cats at the time, the Five, Cookie and Kelly, I’d just lost Peaches the previous October and that big tabby Dickie had gone home with his family, and I’d been thinking about an orange kitty for a lo-o-o-o-ong time. I have always said the universe brought me the cats I needed to live with, and he could be the one. But something told me not to put that responsibility on the little guy, and just to enjoy him and get to know him. I knew I would continue looking for his family, if there was one, and begin looking for an adoptive home if there wasn’t. If he was meant to stay, he would, just as all the others had.

The next day as people asked about him I decided I’d just share a bunch of photos because, of course, I took plenty of photos. No harm in getting him out there again!

I'm going to turn myself into orange marmalade!
I’m going to turn myself into orange marmalade!

I had been a little concerned the previous day, though I enjoyed his cuddling loving personality. Everyone likes a lovey kissy kitten, but a kitten his age is typically a tornado most of the time and a sweet, gentle loverboy now and then. He must have been tired, hungry, traumatized and took a day to recover because he woke up in the middle of the night to play solo hockey in the tub with a tiny plastic whiffle ball. The next day he tossed it into the sink. It was funny to compare his size to, for instance, Giuseppe, who filled the sink half full without any help. G and Jelly Bean together nearly filled it to the top. He’s just a little puddle in the bottom.

I have it trapped!
I have it trapped!

Then he got down to the business of inspecting the bathroom and pulling apart everything that would come apart, but that’s what I designed the bathroom to be used for, aside from my own unimportant personal use.

This would be a cool toy!
This would be a cool toy!

Proving again that I really am just a big cat toy, he discovered my toes first thing; this photo reminds me of God giving Adam the spark of life from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling, and indeed a little claw in my toe did give me a spark of life.

Look closely at his hip—that little gray spot isn’t a shadow, it’s actually a small area of black fur. I thought at first it was dirt, along with the black spots on his nose, but he has black freckles on his skin and that small area of black hairs mixed with the orange. That doesn’t make him a tri-color, that’s actually called “chimeric color” because, in a way, it rubbed off from the kitten next to him when they were in the womb.

I am just a big cat toy.
I am just a big cat toy.

For the rest of April 1 he went about the business of being a very busy kitten, and I started making plans for a longer term foster. I keep fosters just in off the street completely confined and wash my hands and arms before I leave the room as a basic precaution, even keeping a long-sleeved shirt in there if they have any sort of a URI or any other discharges. Jack was clean, but two weeks is the minimum quarantine, four weeks is optimal, and I usually don’t test for FeLV or FIV for at least two weeks, so he would need all his supplies moved in. I stocked up on kitten food and latex gloves.

On April 2, however, a friend contacted me on Facebook about him and said she was drawn to him and wanted to adopt him. I knew the person and her family well; I’d done a portrait of one of their Dalmatian years before as well as a family portrait including all the pets, and knew they always had a household of well-kept pets, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, mice. And there were human children. It would be a wonderful home for such a nice kitten. They would come to meet him the next day.

The orange kitten with his new family.
The orange kitten with his new family.

He took to them right away, cuddling and kissing and playing and I knew the fit was right for all of them. There was no need to do a vet check and a home visit—I’d already been there and kept in touch enough to know they took excellent care of all their animals from the smallest to the largest, and they’d take excellent care of him too.

The one hesitation was that an original owner might actually show up—he’d only been with me for four days. We discussed that and decided we’d figure it out after hearing the owner’s story, if one did turn up. In the meantime, we’d keep in touch. No one ever called.

Here, I can tell he’s happy with his new girlfriend, and it was love at first sight for her. It’s too bad this photo is a little blurry, but I can still tell he’s saying, “Thanks!”

The orange kitten and Sara.
The orange kitten and Sara.

I began getting updates right away.

Ohhhhhh, the little guy is so funny and the best temper! He wants to be friends with everyone. The dogs already love him. The cats are being, well, cautious. He’s actually smaller (not taller) than our pig. Keeping him separate though. He favors Mark and Ian! They fell in love with him. Although he wants to be around whoever has an empty lap or something to play with.

Still nameless, he could care less what names we are asking him to consider. I guess he has more important things to decided. Such as which dog, cat or guinea pig to attack. He just bounds up to someone and the look on his face is “you’re my friend, let’s play!” The older cats- Amber-Grace (9), Zoe (8) and Sophia (7), the later sisters, look at him as if to say “you little adolescent, can’t you see we’re the Queens of the house… now, off, go play with the mere dogs” Meanwhile Elle (12.5 and 115#’s) and Bailey (6 and 50#’s) are intimidated and whimper as if they aren’t sure what to do, so the dogs lick the kitten and he gently paws at their noses.


kitten with rubber band
He discovers a rubber band, or as his new mom says, “or for you Pittsburghers ‘gumband’.”

She changed her profile photo to one of his photos and remarked how fun it was to have a kitten in the house and how they got into everything. A few days later as they were trying out names and landed on “Captain Jack Sparrow”:

This evening Jett and Jack the guinea pig sat on the chair sniffling each other. Neither realized who hunter vs. prey was suppose to be. They were fine. To be on the safe side, that would only happen under adult supervision. Rule #1: No eating other family members.

Jett, is a complete joy to have joined our home. He was just one of those animals that we knew was just meant to be with our family. We frequently say no to others, but once in a while, there’s that special animal that “speaks to you” and you meet each other, lock eyes and you know it is right for all involved.

I’ll keep you posted as he matures.

 Then “A Christmas Message from Jack’s Family”

Jack at Christmas.
Jack at Christmas.

Here is a current picture of Jack, taken just a few minutes ago. I swear I take more pictures of him and the other pets than anything else. I thought your readers may like to know how the little guy is doing.

Jack is almost a year old, he is in perfect health, and weighs 10#’s, and of course he has been neutered. Jack has the best personality and character, and his curiosity is unlimited! He has three older feline “sisters” and two canine “sisters” and a fellow brother “guinea pig”; we joke that Jack is an inter-species-transgender cat. He is friends with all of his housemates. Ohmygosh, the look on his face is so priceless each time he sees one of his housemates- the look on his face is that of pure and unedifying love and delight that says “there’s MY friend, I have to go play with MY friend NOW, I just love, love, LOVE my friend and I have to say it NOW!” It doesn’t matter if the others want to play or not. Jack has a special bond with our youngest dog, oldest cat, and the guinea pig specifically, however he is equal with all of us.

It still amazes us that Jack can instantly go from being the hyper aware, pouncing and playful cat, as he is a complete and total lover boy who loves to receive affection and returns it tenfold. He will be running around the house one minute and the next, flopping down to sleep wherever he is at at that moment. Both in the middle of whatever is going on as Jack HAS to be in the center of all family activity always.

Jack has added so much joy and love to our family. We always say after adopting our latest pet that that pet is the last one we’ll adopt. However, as each pet has kept reminding us, we are meant to be together as a family. Animals have so much to say and love to offer, we mere humans need to learn to stop and listen to them. Pets talk to us all the time. And nothing brings animals/pets more happiness than to be acknowledge, accepted, while being listened to and respond back. It is so simple.

Anyway, this little unmet kitten, who we fell in love with before meeting him. And upon meeting him, we instantly knew the fit just clicked between us humans and Jack. Although naming him was a challenge- to us humans, it took us over a week to finally figure out what his name was, because he ignored every name we tried to call/name him. When we said “Jack” he perked up and responded as if to say “you silly humans, you FINALLY figured my name out! DUH!!!! Now rub my tummy!!!” (Jack responded to the character name “Captain Jack Sparrow” and the name fits. He stole our hearts and love!)

I’d like to think we adopted him and that we did so much for him, however, the reverse is true, Jack has totally settled our family and we feel complete.

Jack and Bailey.
Jack and Bailey.

What a wonderful Christmas gift for me. The fit had been so perfect I laughed and said I’d only been a medium for this kitty to get to her household, that he’d shown up in my front yard somehow knowing I’d post a picture that she would see and he’d be home in no time. I also told her I felt Jack somehow had a large role to play in her home.

At the time her son was already in college and her daughter would soon graduate and leave as well. Jack was there to fill the empty spot with love and distractions. Then in time she was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured a year of treatment, now just monitoring it and treating the side and after effects. With all the ups and downs of family life, and now battling breast cancer, Jack has been there for that as well.

oramge cat watching birds
Jack watching the birds at his kitchen window.

If there’s one good reason to foster kittens and cats and then hand them over to someone else who has agreed to love, honor and cherish that cat for all the rest of the cat’s life, it’s getting photos of the cat being loved, honored and cherished in the years after adoption.

Jack and his "Aunties", Amber-Grace, Zoe and Sophia.
Jack and his “Aunties”, Amber-Grace, Zoe and Sophia.

It can seem hard, and it can be hard, to give up a foster you’ve rescued and loved, but when I’ve found the right home I always thought of it as giving both the people and the cat a gift—each other. I think of the time, the very first time, I saw each of my cats, and each of them was a stranger, but I grew to love them and they became completely entwined in my life and the lives of all my cats and all the things that happened after they joined us. Then I imagine this wonderful adoptive family at the beginning of their relationship with this cat, that very first moment they meet the cat who, now, is a stranger, but someday will be the world to them, completely entwined in their lives. And sometimes, it’s even better than that.

If there was ever a doubt in my mind that finding a good home for a kitten was the right thing to do, an adoption like this eliminates those doubts. How could I keep him away from the place he belonged?

Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.

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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
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And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!



From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

3 thoughts on “Rescue Story: Just a Stop on the Way

  • This is such a touching story and proves that rescuing and fostering works.
    Purrs Georgia and Julie,
    Treasure and JJ

  • What a wondeful rescue story!! I’m so longing for my cats who are still living at the shelter for another 3 weeks. I hope my rescue story will be as great as Jack’s.

  • jack & mom B….a paws…a paws…a paws……total lee…rockin awesum find.foster.gotcha.livin large & N charge storee ♥♥♥♥♥


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