At my office, we have a cat guy. He feeds and cares for several feral cat colonies around town, and while he is on vacation for a few days, I agreed to take care of them.
He’s had to move one colony deeper and deeper into a patch of wooded area to keep them safe from automobile traffic and cruel people (he found a few cats poisoned a few months ago), so by the time he got around to showing me where they were, I had to don rainboots and a generous dose of Deep Woods Off, and was advised to carry a stick for pushing aside spiderwebs.
The first couple days of cat watch were uneventful; I tromped to the designated spots, left food and refilled water and did a quick head count. On the second day the food had been overturned and a pair of turtles were happily munching on the soggy cat kibble; I was annoyed and ever-so-slightly afraid (yes, I was intimidated by a turtle), but it was tough to stay mad at the turtles, with their mushy cat food-smeared heads pulled half-heartedly into their shells.
On Sunday, as I was checking on the second half of the colony, I spotted a tiny orange tail peeking up over the edge of a slanted board. Trying to be as quiet as possible, I crawled over to get a better look. Three kittens, no more than 3 weeks old, were huddled together in an orange and calico pile. Mom had already fled at my intrusion. Brushing aside a few more cobwebs, I reached in and scooped up the tiny fur bundles and tromped back to the car. By this time, the kittens were squalling relatively loudly, and I had visions of vengeful cats streaming out of the woods to pull me down and reclaim their screaming young.
SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t happen. My hike back to the car was uneventful.
I scoured the car for something to keep the kittens in, and the best I could find was a dutch oven my friend had recently returned to me and I hadn’t brought back into the house yet. I lined the bottom with a t-shirt and placed the kittens inside.
I pulled into the PetsMart parking lot and reached into the backseat for the pot o’ kittens. I carried them inside, now fast asleep, and made my way to the Banfield vet counter.
Lil Wayne is displeased
“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked, giving me and the dutch oven tucked under my arm a quizzical look.
I tipped the dutch oven enough to reveal the huddle of kittens (thank goodness I had decided against putting the lid on).
“Um, I found these? And I was hoping you guys could tell me how old they are and what they’ll need before I can bring them to my vet tomorrow morning?”
A vet tech took the pot from me and took it back to weigh the kittens and check their temperatures. She came back out a few minutes later to tell me that they all looked relatively healthy, if a little small, and that although they didn’t have any teeth yet, she didn’t think they’d need to be bottle fed. She walked me over to the cat section and pointed out what wet food I should mix with some KMR (a kitten milk replacement) to offer to the kittens. Another vet tech walked by with a small pet carrier and a mysterious bulge in her scrub pocket.
“You’ll need to keep them warm,” she said, patting her pocket. I could just see some orange fluff sticking out – kitten #1 had found a home. She handed me the pet carrier with the two remaining kittens inside, then offered to give me a syringe to help feed the babies. Some kittens never take to the bottle, she explained, because they can smell the latex and don’t like it. Their clinic had better luck just using a syringe to offer formula.
So. There are two kittens currently snoozing on my coffee table under the watchful eye of Ernie. Julie has named them Lil Wayne (orange) and Juvenile (calico). I’ll keep you posted on their progress, but I need some help.
Ernie suggests we name them "Sugar" and "Spice," since they look delicious.
Also – homes. These guys are going to need homes. I am at my pet limit, and Hemo wants absolutely nothing to do with these guys. She insists that we are a one cat household, and I agree.