Monday, August 16, 2010

I Always Say Yes

When Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle writes about his cats, he warns his readers: This is a cat column. So those that aren't cat people can just skip it, and avoid their annoyance. It's one of the things I love about him.

I can relate to Carroll. Surrounded as I am with animals, it is hard not to bring them up as a topic of conversation. Animal people don't mind; non-animal people roll their eyes, and look for the nearest exit. I frequently find myself wanting to sit down at the keyboard with a story or analogy or life lesson learned from dogs or cats or parrots, and then I think, "Wait. Have I been talking too much about the menagerie lately? Am I going to drive everyone crazy?"

So, let the reader be forewarned. This is a cat post. Proceed at your own risk.

Sabrina called me at work at 11 a.m. to tell me that the guys at the plant had found a litter of six kittens in a loader. They are only two weeks old, eyes still closed. They need to be hand-bottle-fed, every two or three hours. Everybody was pitching in. Could she bring one home?

I said yes. I always say yes. Never mind the fact that only last month we brought Blizzard, our latest adoptee, the white stray, to the vet for the full treatment - neuter, de-flea, de-worm, nail clip, ear mites, vaccines - and he has now taken up permanent residence on our front deck, thrilled to be part of the family, bringing our official cat count to six. And that about two weeks ago, an orange tom cat started showing up hungry, and I am now feeding him, too, and I know it's a slippery slope, because I've already named him Laser.

The kitten is the tawny rascal second from the top of the pile. We're not sure yet of the gender - hard to tell. And no name has been decided upon. It's only been about eight hours. But this baby is so small, it's a little terrifying. I have tied a scarf around my neck to form a hammock, and have been carrying the baby around that way, nestled up against my chest. We feed it formula from a tiny bottle, and have to massage its abdomen to make it urinate, because it is so young. I've never taken care of one this small. Part of me is holding back, afraid - what if something goes wrong, and it doesn't get enough nourishment, sickens, dies? I won't be able to stand the pain of losing it, once I've become attached.

Oh - but I just breathe, and pull my heart out of my throat, and do the best I can. The next feeding is at midnight. Send us good thoughts.

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