An email came in on the local rescue list asking for help for a pregnant cat. The woman who found the stray was willing to do what it took to help this cat survive, but she really needed a good rescue group to step up and make certain any kittens were placed in good homes. It was one of those situations where I got a feeling I needed to reach out to this person. She wasn't looking to dump a problem on a rescue, leaving them to pay for all the vet care and related costs. She was willing to partner with a rescue so this cat and her kittens had a chance to live a good life-she even offered to adopt the mom after the kittens were weaned.
©2012 Donna Masi. Winnie, a friendly stray who was rescued by Donna and taken on into the foster care program of Kitten Associates.
I exchanged a few emails with this lady, her name is Donna. I immediately knew this woman was going to be great to work with, instead of a drain on my financial and emotional resources. Donna was easy going, well-versed in cat care…REALLY knowledgeable but she hadn't been around a mama cat or kittens for a very long time. I promised to give her support as long as she could give this mama a place to live indoors for the next eight weeks, at least.
©2012 Donna Masi. Five kittens. None died. All healthy, happy and thriving-a true blessing for all of us.
We had to overcome a few hurdles, like what to do about fleas without endangering the newborns. What to do about getting the kittens letterbox trained? What to wean them with? There were many questions, but for the first time in a long time I (for the most part) knew what to tell her.
©2012 Donna Masi. Bandit, just two weeks old.
Winnie, the mom-cat, gave birth on August 10, 2012 to five healthy kittens. Donna and her husband, Paul had the job of carefully handling each kitten, monitoring their weights and giving them loads of love. What I couldn't know then was just how GOOD they were at their jobs.
©2012 Donna Masi. Honeydew at two weeks.
Both Donna and her husband, Paul were so easy to work with it was a dream come true. They never pushed back about anything I asked. They never challenged me, but they did offer some opinions, which were all very sound. They fussed and fretted over the kittens and because they were home most days, they could spend plenty of time with them.
©2012 Donna Masi. Almost a month old already and look at that face!
By the time the first few kittens were ready to came here, they were all very social and friendly. Each one was sweet, adorable and charming. One by one they got adopted. Charly, first, then Buttons. Pinky was going to stay behind with Donna, she just couldn't let her go. Bandit and Honeydew were the last two of the litter and they've been living with Sam and me for a few weeks.
©2012 Donna Masi. And a few weeks later the face we know and love.
The second I put the kittens on Petfinder, my inbox was full of inquiries about Bandit. Honeydew had no interest at all. The focus was on Bandit-and truthfully, I was not surprised. Bandit is tiny for her age, adorable, friendly, playful, affectionate. For a cat who's only 16 weeks old, she WANTS to sleep ON ME. Will come running to me if I call her. She'll climb into my arms while I'm sitting at my desk, oblivious to the fact that I have to work, she just wants to purr and be loved.
©2012 Donna Masi. Honeydew already looking long-legged.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Bandit arrives at my house and I worry I won't be able to let this kitten leave!
I don't care about the pain. It will pass. In time Bandit will awaken and want to play. Both her energy and that of her brother, Honeydew, fill the house. They had no problem adjusting to living with my nine cats. They thread themselves between the others as they race through the living room. They climb up the eight foot tall cat tree and peer over the top. They wrestle and writhe over each other. They get up and race up the stairs. Some of my own cats react by getting energized, too. I've seen Spencer actually PLAYING for the first time in years.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. With her clean squirrel (private joke).
There's something intoxicating about them, their exuberance, their joy. I can't frown when they're nearby. I can't be upset when they climb my pant leg, hungry for their next meal.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Back with her squirrel a week later.
I knew our days were numbered when I got an application for not just Bandit, but for Honeydew, as well. I did the Vet check and they describe the person as "perfect in every way." I talked to her on the phone. She was very nice, very excited, clearly already in love with both kittens.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Once out of the confines of my bathroom, these two took over the house, claiming the big old cat tree in the living room for naps and frolicking.
Being the protective foster mom, I challenged her about her two dogs and her very young son. I said I'd be willing to go to the next step-the home visit, but I couldn't promise anything just yet. She was cheerful and friendly and looking forward to the visit.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Zzz.
On Sunday morning Sam and I visited her home and met her dogs and their 21 year old cat, Bubba, who is deaf, but in very good condition. The dogs were well behaved and friendly. Neither were bothered by the cat or vice versa. We discussed that the kittens would benefit from a cat tree and certain other things. They showed me what they already purchased and were open-minded enough to listen to my comments and suggestions. In a way, I wanted to find something wrong so I didn't have to give up the kittens just yet, but that's not fair to them, so I told them the next thing would be for them to meet the kittens and possibly do the adoption.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Look at those legs. He's going to be a big kitty one day.
That night I got home and checked my email. They wrote saying they were going to build a cat tree, but changed their mind and found one on sale and what did I think about it? They sent a photo and I laughed. The cat tree was HUGE, dwarfing a good part of their sliding glass door. That they did this AND took up such valuable real estate impressed me a lot. Now all I had to do was meet the little boy and hope he was not a terror with the kittens.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Afternoon chillax.
They arrived last night. The son was all excited, his cheeks pink from anticipation. The woman, her boyfriend and son entered the house and smiled, looking around at the odd decor, then quickly spotting Bandit, they entered my office and began to pet her. She'd just woken up from a nap and wanted to play. The lithe boy walked around the living room wide-eyed seeing all the cats. He went over to Petunia to pet her, but he went slowly and seeing her tense up, he told her it was okay and he wouldn't hurt her. His mom warned him to be careful, but he didn't need any warnings. He slowly touched Petunia. At first she stiffened, then quickly softened against his hand. When I saw that, I was done for. Petunia rarely ever lets strangers, let alone a child touch her. She's very anxious, even though friendly, she usually runs off when she sees someone unfamiliar.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. With Gizmo (who is keeping Honeydew from nursing on his sister!).
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Furry paperweight being spied on by the DOOD.
I went upstairs and pried Honeydew out of my bed. He was fast asleep so I whispered to him it was time to meet his family and to do a good job.
He raced down the stairs and started to play with the young boy and his family. Bandit joined in and the giggles and gasps of joy began.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Honeydew growing up fast.
With every leap or silly step, the boy laughed and the mom followed suit. Her boyfriend was engaged with the cats and kept a close eye on the boy making sure he didn't step on a cat or misbehave (he was a really good boy!).
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Sleeping with Gizmo.
The kittens showed very well and everyone seemed to like each other. I knew it was a done deal and asked them what they thought. They all agreed they would love to adopt Bandit and Honeydew.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. I've never known a kitten who was so great at posing for the camera. I love her little gray toe spot!
We walked over to the table to go over the paperwork and sign the contract. Everything went smoothly. I took a few photos and kissed the kittens goodbye. I didn't cry when they left because I really liked this family and thought it was a good match. It's vital for me to move cats OUT of my house due to the behavior issues my own cats have. I MUST take a break, too. It's been YEARS since I had one. I can be rational and logical, but I also know if I DO think about Bandit being gone, it WILL HURT a lot. When I walk through my bedroom and see all the toys scattered on the floor it makes me sad. I pick each one up and put it away. I know there are no cats who will want to play with them since they only seemed to be enjoyed by the kittens.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Squirrel!
As I pick up each toy, I imagine the kittens playing, racing around. The sight of Bandit's back end when she runs, the spot on each of her back leg bouncing up and down. Everything about this litter of kittens makes me laugh when I think about them. They each gave me so much joy.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Why I can't get my work done today.
But it was Bandit who really got to me, Bandit who seemed to love me, running up to me with her tail held high. Looking into my eyes with her soulful face. It was all I could do to not look away and try not to be seduced…to come up with a reason why she needed to stay. There were so many reasons, but I told myself I needed to just enjoy this time. Enjoy it, cherish it, treasure it, then let it go. It would be okay. All the love that Donna and Paul, then Sam and I put into these cats were coming right back tenfold and would keep coming back to their new family now.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Just another day looking cuter than ever.
This is how love works. You just give it away with all that you have and stay confident that it will return to you.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. The kittens with their new family-together always. Congratulations and best wishes to all!