Saturday, September 4, 2010

A prayer to Vinnie and Frank

Being on the board of the charity I had no choice. I offered to watch the kitties,and immediately had a pang of regret- was I insane? Offering to watch five six week old kittens who'd never had a feline mother? For five days? I had witnessed some of the chaos of their human mother's life after they were found in a garbage bag and delivered to her house just two days after they were born. She woke very hour to bottle feed five little ratty hairless mewling kittens, and would emerge, from what was once her office, covered in poop, pee, vomit and teeny scratches, to stagger down the stairs for some fresh air. The allergy to cats was a killer and it made this ridiculous task of keeping these kittens alive almost insurmountable. This work is a calling, so not a chance that she would simply give up, but, much like the intensity of having a human child, her mind was blown by the reality of the daily grind of motherhood. She was vigilant in their care-bathing, feeding, playing, napping- and they have grown into five genteel adorable kittens-Patty,Pearl,Brutus,Tupper and Gus Gus. All distinctly different personalities:Patty is loud and confident. Pearl has the coloring of an abalone shell and is sweet and confused. Brutus is the big boy who eats,poops and plays hard. Tupper was the homage to their first home-a plastic bag- and is small and curious. Gus Gus is like his namesake- bashful and darling.
Despite their amazing progress,they still bear the figurative scars of abandonment.When compared to the younger litter that was born in the pajama drawer in the next room-six lush, gorgeous, velvety soft fur balls- that have been living solely on mother's milk for three weeks,the Garbage Bag kitties seem, well, scrawny. Don't get me wrong, they are very cute, but are more funny looking than cute. They could also be a different breed and just look more spindly than furry in general.
Anyway, we had them for five days and life was never more serene. They were kept in the upstairs bathroom when no one was home and taken to the yard for most afternoons. The kids spent all of their free time playing outside and watching the kitty pen so our resident cat,Milo, didn't hurt them. He stared and growled and got all puffy when they came outside. We let them out,one at at time to sniff the grass and play and see the world. They wrestled and snacked,then collapsed into a big pile for a quickie nap. My friend already did all the heavy lifting, so this was akin to watching some else's four year old for the week. The difficult part,aside from the constant cleaning of their dual litter boxes and their little food footprints that decorated the bathroom floor, was monitoring Big's interactions with them. She loved them all, a tad too vigorously.She channeled Lennie from "Of Mice and Men" a bit, petting their fragile little heads a little too intensely and occasionally swinging one or two by the tail. She might have even said "But, I didn't do nothin'" after I heard a shrill little meow come from the bathroom and yelled for her to be more gentle. No one got hurt, but it did cross my mind that she might have the makings of a serial killer.
After watching what my friend went through, I have a lot more respect for feline mothers.They are the ultimate single parent and literally eat drink and sleep it for eight solid weeks. There are no nannies in nature. I can only imagine the terror of foraging for food and knowing your defenseless babies are sleeping somewhere with no one to protect them. The drawer in my friend's house, where the next batch was born, is immaculate, contrasted with the bathroom where the other batch stayed at my house, which still smells like eau du kitty. Nature truly is amazing.
Well, my friend now has seven different kitties-all rescued from the street. The others were adopted by people that we hope will cherish them as we did. I haven't met the new batch yet, but my friend is going away for three weeks this time, and our virtual village must provide. We have a small team of volunteers and a few new board members to share the labor of love. The kitties also have their own home. My friend has reclaimed her office and slapped a shingle on a cute little trailer that sits in the back yard. It is there that the volunteers that were culled from the Internet will do their magic by showing up when they are supposed to. There will be a camera installed and a live feed at some point down the road. There are shared online files for determining a schedule. It is all very high tech for such a low tech endeavor.
Even though I am not religious, I will say a little prayer to the patron saint of volunteers,Vincent de Paul, and to the patron saint of animals,Francis of Assisi,to protect the little trailer filled with hissers and purrers. May they bless those fur babies with the love and attention that they deserve for the three weeks that we are really relying on outside help. May the volunteers please not flake, and may they honor their commitment to do the work. I did it for five days and it was extremely rewarding. I hope that everyone else feels the same way.

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