Only in our lives for a moment but remember forever

Published 9:21 am Friday, July 27, 2012

Our routine Sunday night was interrupted somewhere in the eight o’clock hour by the sudden sound of knocking on the storm door and the headlights from a still running truck parked in front of the house.
“Is this your kitten?” asked a neighbor, holding up a scruff of yowling dark grey fur in the palm of his hand.
Standing in a tank top and a pair of Paul’s boxers (you know how I hate pants) and using one foot to keep our other four cats and two terriers from scooting out the door, I said, “Nope. That ain’t ours.”
“Oh. It was up at the end of your driveway by the road, next to your mailbox, and Nathan said to bring it over to you ‘cause it was probably yours.”
Gee, thanks, Nathan.
Well, what are you going to do? The kitten was tiny and as we later learned, only six weeks old, crying, frightened, clawing at the air. It was late. We took her in.
It never fails to amaze me that a creature, the result of irresponsible humans who don’t spay or neuter the animals in their care, becomes overwhelmingly grateful and loving in the blink of an eye. This thin kitten, with true ‘Russian Blue’ coloring- sooty grey coat and blue eyes- immediately clamored towards my chest and face, hugely vocal, purring and wanting to press against my neck and remain rooted there. Yes, it’s always risky bringing in a stray when you have no idea what they’ve been exposed to but as our other cats are up to date on vaccinations, I wasn’t as nervous and, truth be told, I couldn’t bear to lock it away into the bathroom by itself and hear it cry all the night. She wanted her mama and as far as she was concerned, her Mama became me, Paul, Bonnie and Duchess, as she threw herself against all of us, one by one, in thoughtful rotation.
Come morning, Paul phoned and an appointment was scheduled with our vet for a full physical the next day. The little mite showed boundless energy, and before I was able to run out to buy kitten food, I had given her a bit of the adult kibble and some milk from a separate dish and was then full of remorse when I saw her throw it up a couple of hours later.
“Stupid!” I scolded my actions out loud. “Stupid to give her adult formula. What was I thinking?”
After obtaining the appropriate food, and eating with relish, she was ill again. A few hours passed and diarrhea began as well.
Arriving at the vet, this kitten, who only hours before had been jumping back and forth from sofa to loveseat, cuddling against Bonnie and Duchess, went into rapid decline. It was determined that she was so full of parasites she was morbidly anemic. Her gums went pale. Our patient six-toed marmalade tabby, Dennis, was quickly brought from home to serve as donor for a blood transfusion while the kitten was immediately given fluids. Her heartbeat became slightly stronger but she was not responsive.
Two hours later she was gone. She had been in our lives for 36 hours.
“Maybe you were only meant to help her transition to the other side.” a friend suggested, helpfully.
Those were words of enormous comfort and, I believe, truth. We have a plethora of coyotes around here and I often see what appears to be a great horned owl roosting in a poplar in the front field in the evenings. This tiny kitten could easily have experienced a terrifying and painful death. Instead, because one fellow cared enough to stop his truck and scoop her up out of the road and bang on doors, trying to find it a home, and because we are suckers for all things wearing fur pajamas, this kitten spent the last several hours of her brief life warm and safe, grateful and purring, right up until she lapsed into her final sleep.
C.S. Lewis once wrote something to the effect of, “Bodies don’t have souls. Souls have bodies.”
With this little girl, I’m grateful we all had the opportunity to be know both.

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