“Uhhhh… DT has a few things to sort out at work today…” the head of Galpin Media — where I work — texted me along with a screenshot of a text from a colleague, reading: “Do you know who owns this Jeep? It has a cat inside that gave birth to kittens..” The Jeep in question is my “Holy Grail,” a super-rare manual transmission Jeep Grand Cherokee that I bought for $350 and am turning into the ultimate budget overlander. The vehicle has been sitting in the Galpin lot since I towed it from Detroit to my current home of LA; the “Grail” is filled with hundreds of parts I’ve amassed for the project, and now — among those parts— are kittens. Really, really cute kittens. Take a look, and prepare for your heart to melt.
Here’s the text from Chris, head of Galpin Media:
You’ll notice an orange-and-white momma-cat sitting atop a mint-condition passenger’s seat out of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. That’s a comfortable seat, so I commend the cat’s choice.
After receiving that text message, I checked out my rather dilapidated machine, and — while working through the guilt associated with neglecting a vehicle this fine — I gazed at a Jeep with two of its doors wide open; someone at Galpin had clearly been making sure the kittens weren’t getting too hot. (I’ve since rolled down the windows and closed the right front door so as not to take up too much precious parking real estate).
In that open rear door are lots of parts, as I mentioned before. There’s an entire rear axle, lots of interior trim, seats, a snorkel, brake parts, an entire lift kit, and on and on — it’s a bit of a mess. Have a look:
I didn’t see any cats on the right side of the Jeep, and even the driver’s door revealed only what most people would see as junk, but what I see as potential. But upon opening the second-row driver’s side door I was hit with a blast of unadulterated cuteness:
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For those of you who can’t see the Instagram video above, behold!:
My heart melted into a pool of conventional 10W-30, and not just because these kittens are so absurdly cute, but because they are among the only living beings on earth who actually appreciate a manual transmission Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ like I do! They’re adorable, and also they have great taste! Look at how comfy they look in that machine; they’re into it! (right?)
I’ve been returning to the Galpin lot every night to feed the momma cat. She’s really hungry, eating an entire large can of wet-food in what has to be record time. “Is she even chewing it?” I wonder.
Every night she lets me get a little bit closer to her, but the nearest I’ve ever gotten is about eight feet; then momma-cat walked away. She doesn’t seem afraid of me — she doesn’t scurry away or anything — but she’s clearly not comfortable with me getting too close. And I get it; we humans have done some pretty bad things in our history, and I get the impression that this cat is a history buff. So I’m facing a bit of an uphill battle here trying to gain Zee’s trust.
Yes, I’ve started giving these cats names. I know, I shouldn’t! But momma cat there is Zee, and this little cat sleeping in my brake rotor is Jay (together, that spells Zee Jay, or ZJ, the platform-name of the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee):
I haven’t named the other two kittens, but they’re equally as heart-meltingly cute. Look at this little orange one!:
And just below the orange one, what do I see?!:
I’ve placed a little bowl of water in the Jeep (it’s dry every morning — I need to put a bigger bowl in there), I’ve rolled all the windows down (it doesn’t seem too hot in there to me, despite the 100-degree weather lately), and I’m making sure the mother is well-fed and that she’s drinking enough. I assume she’s returning to the Jeep every now and then to nurse her kittens. She can get in through the windows and doors, but I suspect she’s entering the Jeep from the transmission shifter-hole down below. I’d previously discovered a Calico cat accessing my Jeep in that manner before; check it out:
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My friend, who volunteers at a cat-rescue organization, has been talking with her colleagues about how to proceed with these cute fluffballs, which are going to join a rather large population of cats already hanging out in that Galpin lot. In fact, one night, while I was feeding the momma cat, another seemingly-pregnant kitty came out of nowhere to check things out:
To prove that’s not the momma cat, here are the two of them next to one another:
It seems the move right now is to feed the momma cat (who, I suspect is already being fed by someone who frequents the lot) so she can nurse her kittens until they’re old enough. The ASPCA has guidance on how to handle feral kittens that seem healthy and whose mothers are around; here’s the organization’s advice:
Provide Food, Shelter and Monitor
It is likely mom is taking good care of her kittens. Provide mom and her kittens with food, a dry and clean shelter, and continue to monitor their well-being. Once the kittens are able to eat wet food on their own, around 4-5 weeks old, you can bring them into your home to provide foster care and prepare them for adoption*. Visit this site for information on how to care for the kittens.
Prepare a Trap-Neuter-Return-Monitor (TNRM) plan for mom (and her kittens if they are not friendly with humans and older than 8 weeks of age) that will help keep them out of an animal shelter and set them up for long, healthy lives outdoors as community cats.
If you cannot provide foster care for these kittens or if you need additional support providing a TNRM plan for mom and her kittens, contact your local shelter or rescue to see if they can help.
So that’s the plan; fairly soon I may work with local experts to trap momma and her kittens, and at the very least have them spayed and neutered to keep the population under control. And, if possible, maybe I’ll try to foster and then adopt out these cats. But I’m not sure yet (feral cats may never warm up to humans, so that may be tough, and also I’m overseas for two weeks starting Sunday). My friend and I will continue working with the local animal rescue organization to make the right call.
If it’s up to me, I might want Zee and Jay in my life, long term. They’re cute and they like ZJs; what more could you want out of a pet?!
…but I do travel a lot. So I’ve got a lot to think about.