Well, that was so not the week I was expecting.
Let’s back up to Saturday afternoon a week ago. The neighbor lady ~or her sister, I can’t keep them straight~ told me about two tiny kittens, abandoned when the family who took them in as gifts for the children were going to leave them in a field because their vacation was over and they were going home.
It’s a problem here. Too many people still believe animals are disposable. Have I mentioned how it so often feels either 2nd World or 17th Century, sometimes both? They pick up a pet on vacation, then leave it behind with the boogie boards and beach umbrellas. Or go on vacation and leave the family pet outside to fend for itself. We, as a species, have domesticated these animals. That means they are no longer wild and do not make their way as wild animals do. A couple of years ago, a half-dozen abandoned vacation-pet dogs packed together and were roaming the streets of Lerici. Not a successful strategy for any of the beings involved.
But I already have a cat, for whom I am ludicrously responsible. We travel…a lot. Sure, I’ve built a fabulous network of awesome people with her Black Cat Fan Club. But finding accommodation for two isn’t nearly as simple as it is for one. I told the lady that I am so sorry, we just can’t right now, it’s so sad, good luck. An hour later, her mother, a nonna of the sweetest little old lady variety, appeared at my door. With the two 7-week-old kittens in a cage. “Our dog would hurt them. They have no where else to go.” Craig was out on a bike ride, unable to “yea,” “nay,” or “No Way!” In my frightful Italian, I conveyed the possibility that I could foster them, for a little while, while they grow. But we would all keep looking for a home for them.
It’s what I do, take care of cats. Hello, my name is Molly. I am a gattare. I felt unusually competent taking two little strangers into my home, knowing what to do for them, and that I had everything I would need for the moment to set them up a refuge. Which I did. Kiwi slept through it all, having no idea that tiny horrors had invaded the room with her favorite CatTV (screened window). She is afraid of kittens. They are too fast and unpredictable and generally refuse to be cowed by her foul language. Eventually, curiosity and desire to play overcome her fear.
They settled right in, eating like wild beasts despite not being especially thin. And they played & wrestled & tumbled & leaped straight up in the air & chased & cried “Uncle,” then asked for more. Then collapsed in a fluffy pile of purr and toe-beans.
The Man was cool about it. The responsibility rests solely on my shoulders … and he secretly gets to enjoy their undeniably amusing antics.
Five days. I had five days to find them a home before we would be going out of town ourselves. They would not be abandoned again. Panicked prayers flew to Heaven. Everyone who sees me on FaceBook knew the score, saw the pleading, the pictures of these sweet little girls cuddled up together. ORPHANS!! One friend in town had been considering adopting a second cat to give company to their first, who has lost to a new human baby some of the complete attention to which she had grown accustomed. This friend would choose one on Wednesday. Phew. That’s at least one. Job half done! Absolute last resort, the other one would become our C.A.T., CatAfterThat (Kiwi was NextCat). Tuesday afternoon, the neighbor lady and her 5 year-old daughter rang the bell. She’d convinced her husband, who had been quite full of NO at first, to allow one. Just one.
It was a little heart-rending to think of separating the tiny sisters. I don’t know how long they’d been with those other wretched people, but they weren’t even old enough to be away from their mother as it was. All they had was each other. But two homes are infinitely better than none and the grisly fate which had awaited them. The more independent one would have a new and enthusiastic human sister. The cuddly one would teach a 1 year-old tabby how to be a sister. All would be well.
Two lives saved and countless more averted if either of them had survived out there, unsterilized. It makes me so angry, knowing how common it is for people to allow their cats to have litter after litter, year after year. The person is burdened to find homes, any homes, potentially with people who will throw those lives away when they become inconvenient.
It’s a simple procedure. Then it’s never an issue. You have one cat. Or two. Or seven. But only as many as you choose and can provide for. Imagine if those people had a baby every year, then had to post flyers, Free to a Good Home. Maybe put it in a cardboard box outside the grocery store. That’s insane, right? But any life which is allowed to be conceived is the responsibility of those who allowed it.
I loved my days with those two little cuties and am inutterably grateful to the families who took them in. But I hope and pray that no more cross my path anytime soon. There just aren’t enough cat-shaped vacuums out there, ready to be filled.