I find myself in a moral quandary. A feral cat gave birth to four kittens in my 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5-speed (aka the “Holy Grail”). I have a choice to make: Do I just leave the family alone, or do I seize this opportunity to try to adopt-out the kittens while they’re young, malleable and cute? I’ve chosen to do the latter, but I’m still a little conflicted.
I feel a bit weird saying I’ve “rescued” a second kitten; there’s something a little arrogant about that expression. No, I captured another kitten because I’ve decided that it’s better for the kitten if it lives indoors with a family than in a business parking lot. I’ve decided that I know best in this situation. I feel weird about that, though I understand that logically, these doubts are silly: A cat in captivity can get healthcare, it gets consistent food, it’s protected from predators (like cars), and it’s statistically going to live much longer than an equivalent feral cat. But I’m also taking two very important things from these cats: family and freedom.
I struggled with that last night as I set down a cat-trap in the Galpin Media parking lot and watched as the remaining three kittens that once lived in my Jeep approached.
You can see all three kittens in the photo below:
The mother, Zee, lurked closeby:
It took all of 30 seconds between me setting the trap and this cute button walking right in:
The photo above shows Jaws, our first “rescue” (if you want to use that word) meeting its sibling (Jaws he hissed a bit)— tentatively named “Mango” — for the first time in weeks. Mango, it’s worth noting, knows us from a few weeks ago, when my friend picked her up (we put her back in the Jeep, since we were going on vacation, and because we didn’t want to take her from her mother, who might have still been nursing her).
Upon bringing Mango home, my friend and I placed the kitten in a bathroom; she was scared, cowering in the litterbox:
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Mango was quiet, though, and let me pet her (I wore gloves just to be safe):
Curious, Jaws snuck upstairs and sniffed around the base of the bathroom door:
We left Mango in the bathroom all night, and awoke to find: Mango was gone! How?! The bathroom was tiny, the windows were closed — there was no way out!
Well, cats are clever; mango managed to find a tiny crevice underneath/inside the toilet. Look at this!:
Look at how small that space was under the throne:
As my arms were too large to fit back there, friend donned her skiing gloves and snagged Mango. We then immediately washed the kitten with Dawn dish soap and water.
There were fleas all over Mango — big ones right next to her eyes! My friend and I picked off as many as we could. Mango was really gentle — never tried scratching or biting. She’s a truly lovely kitten.
The water in the sink after washing her was disgusting — dark gray. No wonder that bathroom had smelled so bad when we’d walked in that morning. She was filthy and flea-covered. Poor kitten.
We just got back from the vet; Mango seems to be healthy. She might have an upper respiratory infection, or at least the beginnings of one, so we’re treating her for that. We’re taking care of the fleas, we’re going through all the vaccination stuff, etc. Sadly, we have to keep Jaws and Mango separate for a couple of weeks while the medication does its thing.
I can’t wait for them to hang out.
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I hope I’m doing the right thing, here. In my opinion, Jaws looks happy, so this feels right. Right? I’ll likely keep Jaws and one of the other kittens (maybe Mango), then adopt the other two Jeep Kittens out. Then I’ll have Zee, the mom (and other cats in the colony) fixed so as to keep the population under control. I’ve decided this is the right thing to do, though again, who am I to make such big decisions in a living being’s life?
But alas, one moves forward and does one’s best.
Announcement to pet owners!: An Autopian reader works for Weruva, maker of excellent cat food. After reading my story, this reader sent me a box of free cat food! The kitties are big fans! Thank you Derek!