I've had my hands in cat poop for a couple of weeks now. We have multiple litter boxes and God forbid a child of mine would help to clean them for me. So the task has fallen mostly to me, unless I want to yell and ground and take ipads away -- which I do also.
The adventure started about two weeks ago. I released the beagles from their kennel only to watch them head straight for the back corner of the yard to bark and dig and bark and dig. I assumed they found a weak spot in the fence and were trying to dig their way out as they so often attempt. I went to investigate and what I saw was a small black shadowy spot under a bush with tiny amber eyes blinking up at me. A kitten. So small, so helpless, so very afraid as two very excited beagles barked and pawed at the dirt near him trying to reach him.
I wrangled the dogs back into their kennel -- not as easy as it sounds when their noses are intent on an intriguing smell -- and grabbed the little hissing ball of fluff and put him in a carrier.
My daughter then set on the task of cooing, cuddling, feeding, petting, and pampering the little black shadow of a kitten.
We named him Jiji for the little black cat on Kiki's Delivery Service, one of our favorite movies.
We made an appointment with the vet for the next morning to have him tested for diseases. But something still played on my mind. How often do we find just one little kitten of that age. Usually they're still with a litter of them. So I put a dog on a leash and headed back out to the backyard to let the scent hound do his job. Sure enough he caught the sent and went after another little shadowy spot. This one wasn't so easy to catch. In fact, it was in the middle of a very thick bunch of branches and thorns in a very large bush. We spent hours crawling on our stomachs, chopping at the bushes, getting spider webs in our hair and getting scraped up by thorns. But when night fell we knew there'd be no way to see a solid black kitten. We set out some food and water and called it a night.
Jiji was inside getting pampered while that poor little thing was out there all alone and scared. I barely slept that night as Jiji cried for his sibling and I was sure his sibling was out there crying for him. So I took the pet carrier outside at 3 am hoping the crying of Jiji would bring the other kitten out of the bushes. What I saw and heard was troubling all the more. There was not just one kitten out there. There were actually two more. Two more solid black little boy kittens out in the backyard. "One for each of us," my Boy announced excitedly the next day referring to himself and his two sisters. Uh, I don't think so!
I made a trip to the feed and supply store and grabbed a live trap as well as making a trip to the vet to verify that, yes, indeed Jiji was free of diseases and intestinal parasites, which meant the siblings were most likely also.
After several failed attempts at capturing the two remaining kittens, we finally did it. Unfortunately they weren't as tame as Jiji and would require some socialization.
That first night one of them had diarrhea and both of them had it all over them by morning. My oldest daughter was brave enough to bathe them for me -- not an easy task. She wore long sleeves and leather gloves.
I was stuck with the task of cleaning up the cage. Ugh.
The nastiness went away, however, once they were on a strict diet of kitten chow and clean water.
So after about a week and a half of cuddling, sweet talking, feeding, and cleaning up after them, I can say that they are still not totally socialized. Darn it. Jiji came in and took over the house. He's made himself at home and is not afraid of anything. We'll keep him. But I can't keep these other two. We already have four -- yes count them! -- full grown cats. They haven't been too excited about the new additions, but they've been okay with Jiji. The Boy has named one of the siblings Maxwell and he's a sweetie. He's shy and would rather hide than play, but once he's captured he purrs instantly upon contact and is a lovable little man. Sir Hiss, however, is named so for a reason. He's grumpy and annoyed with anyone who wants to capture him, but like Maxwell he does purr when in your arms and is just as cute and healthy.
I have plans to get them neutered as soon as they reach 3 pounds. I'm hoping that happens within the next two weeks because a friend has an appointment with a place that will neuter them for me at low cost.
I'd love to hand over Maxwell and Sir Hiss to someone who'd give them happy homes inside. But if I can't then I will have to neuter them, vaccinate them, and return them to the yard hoping they stick around for food. Maybe they'll cut down on the scorpions outside. Our house just isn't big enough for all these cats to stay inside.
If you'd love to bring a little shadow of a kitten into your life. Please contact me at email@example.com .
Lisa On Location Photography