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Cat tale: Unexpected find highlights kindness of strangers

Cat tale: Unexpected find highlights kindness of strangers

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With the 2020 General Election a week away, some may be in need of a brief respite from the nonstop, sunup to sundown discussion of politics that has put a stranglehold on so many of our social media feeds, watercooler discussions (for those few who are not working remotely) and even dinner table conversations.

So, in the interest of public service, I’m going to tell you a little story I like to call “My Very Stressful, Kind of Fun, Restore Faith in Humanity, 72-hour Kitten Adventure.”

Not interested? I’m sure there is someone ruminating about the election on any cable channel between 1 and 599. Interested? Read on!

So it all started on a recent dark and stormy night (it was actually late in the afternoon and it was only kind of partly cloudy, but the first way just sounds better), when my husband noticed one of our dogs pawing at a spot under a shed in our backyard.

Investigating, he could faintly make out a shrill, whining sound coming from underneath the shed. A few minutes later he had located the source: a tiny gray kitten, not much bigger than his hand, staring wide-eyed at him and squalling to beat the band.

A quick note: I have never had a cat and would politely call myself a “dog person.” Having no clue what to do with the kitten, which appeared to be all alone, we both began calling anyone we could think of who might be able to take it off our hands.

Advised by Julie Lawrence at the Goochland Animal Shelter — or Saint Julie, as I like to call her — to put the kitten back in case the mother came back for it, we did just that, taking care to keep the dogs away. But the next morning it was still there, still crying pitifully and looking very much in need of some TLC.

We kept at our search for home, but the story was the same everywhere: Plenty of helpful advice but no one who was able to take the kitten. A rescue organization promised to try to find someone, but in the meantime a volunteer from that group advised us that we would need to find a way to feed it.

“Is there any brand of cat food you would suggest?” I asked. No, she said gently, the way you would talk to someone who had shown up wearing their shoes on the wrong feet. “You’re going to have to bottle-feed it.” She patiently explained how to do that, going into great detail about how to warm the formula, how often to offer it, how to position a heating pad in the kitten’s box, and how to make it use the bathroom, all of which was wonderful and very helpful information that, overwhelmed, I almost immediately forgot.

I knew our local vet was about to close, but I called and asked if perhaps they could sell me a can or two of the kitten formula the rescue group suggested. Yes, they said. “Just pull in the parking lot and we’ll bring it out.”

So the kitten and I set off as fast as the speed limit would allow, arriving just a few minutes before the vet closed for the day. But instead of handing over the formula and sending us off, the vet tech gently scooped up the kitten and carried him inside. She returned 20 minutes later, having taken care of what I had failed to notice was a significant flea issue, and spent another 20 minutes showing me how to do everything I would need to do to keep the kitten — which she guessed was about 2 to 3 weeks old — alive. She gave me a hot water bag, extra formula, and a tiny bottle.

“You can do this,” she assured me, and then wrote her cell phone number on the flap of the cardboard box the kitten was sitting in. “Just call if you run into any issues.”

While her advice and guidance were immensely appreciated, the issues, unfortunately, were mounting. The first: We are a dog house and those dogs both seemed intent on eating — or at least tasting — the kitten. The second: As two people who both work long hours, neither my husband nor I had the kind of time to care for the little ball of fluff the way it deserved.

At first we thought we could make a go of ii — the kitten was awfully cute, after all, and we were feeling confident — but by the time the rescue group called on Sunday night saying that they had found a local woman who was willing to take the kitten, worked from home, and had been through this kind of thing many times before, we knew what the right decision was.

Like everyone else we had dealt with, the woman and her young son could not have been nicer. As they pulled out of our driveway, effectively ending our brief time as cat owners, I marveled at the number of kind, gracious, warm-hearted people I had come in contact with over the course of just three days. The kitten was lucky, sure, but as I watched the car pull away I couldn’t help but feel very, very blessed.

Is there a moral to this story? Not really, other than that people are still good and sometimes you find that out in the most unexpected ways.

And you, dear reader, just spent a solid couple of minutes reading about something other than politics.

No need to thank me.

Always happy to help.

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