Sunday, May 22, 2016

#A-TO-Z CALLENGE 2016 – LETTER “O” - ORPHANED KITTENS; A FIVE-FOLD BLESSING


In what has certainly become the longest “A-to-Z Challenge” and in a crawl to the finish line (somewhere in 2017 it seems), something happened here yesterday that was so typically Nebraska Avenue, 33605 or 02, I just had to write about it.

One of the reasons I hadn't posted, or written much lately, is that I felt really bad about Mama. Because she was feral, and because she would never consent to being confined to the house, I took a chance on letting her come and go while I was away. She knew Alex and liked him, and I figured that she'd be okay with that, so I gambled. . . and came up snake-eyes.


Mama, in all of her crazy, tortoise-shell, tabby, butterscotch, I-don't-know-what-I-am glory!

You know the rest. My significant 2/3s was all for dropping everything when Alex told me she disappeared after a few days, and hadn't eaten much, and running me back up here to Tampa, and while a kind and generous gesture; typical of him, my heart told me it was already too late. She had been ill and elderly before I left. She honestly couldn't eat very much, although she wanted to. She kept looking at me with those eyes, with love. I would look back, and I felt we were saying our goodbyes.

When I first got back home, I hunted and hunted for her, crawling over every inch of space under our house, looking along the back fences (and getting sworn at, by several pissed-off neighbors) and even went so far as to search the area where she had given birth. Nothing. I tried cooking fragrant meals, which always brought her running. After going up and around the neighborhood and calling for her, I knew she wasn't coming back.

But, it took something out of me. I didn't know if I was a horrible person for not coming back, but I'd had the sneaking suspicion the end was near before I left. Alex did, too. Still, I have that kind of personality; “What if I'd stayed home? What if we had come home early?” and I hate that about myself. Part of this is because I've had so little control over most of my life, that I've made some horrible decisions. Who hasn't? But, I finally decided to quit second-guessing, and I heard that one of our neighbors on this street, had an outdoor cat, who had just had kittens, and they were Mama's descendants. I took comfort in knowing that the lady would let me have two of the three when the time came. . . then the mother cat and her kittens disappeared. . .


The 2Minit Laundry, where it really takes 75Minits to do your laundry.

Alex had me all set to go to the ASPCA, to adopt a rescue, and we talked about it on Friday, while I was trying to install some god-awful app on his god-awful tablet for the Laundromat. We're all DIY'ers around here, it seems. Alex and I get all the computer crap no one can fix. Ms. Wizard here first downloaded the app. . . to my own phone. Yeah, I'm a brainiac. There were all these people milling around and hollering and washing clothes in the 'Mat while I was trying to do this. One woman walked in the door, bitching about the constant mopping at the top of her voice, and never shut up once. 

At one point, she said, “I'm ignorin' dey kids tonight, and drinkin' !” I thought, “I think everyone else in here needs a drink RIGHT NOW after listening to you holler!” My e. t. started kicking up, because Alex's tablet is ignorant, or the keys are too small, or maybe it was a PEBCAK error. He noticed my distress and said, “Just take the damn thing home, and do it from there. This is kinda crazy.” I ran out of there with the tablet and across the street and loaded it easily. It was like the worst day working at IBM, when the Japanese couple called – these were “external” customers, not the Sales Engineers I would later support – and could barely be understood.

I tried to fix the printer the wife had sat on, and “mash buttons, but no know which ones.” That was like a 4-hour call. I fell into a coma at some point; I must have fixed it, but I'll be damned if I can remember which steps it took to do it; plus, the guy didn't want the assistance of a Japanese interpreter, so he may have just gotten fed up and said “Domo Arigato, gotohell!” and hung up.


"One o' them big ole ugly IBM printers", one customer tried to explain to me. Gee, thanks for the help, guy. That'd be really EASY to troubleshoot, except my ESP and far-sight packages in my head are out for repair right now!

But, I digress. Yesterday, I was taking a walk with another neighbor, Mercedes, and she said, “I hear you're looking for some kittens.” I said, “Yeah, I was counting on two of Olga's outdoor cat's kittens, but the cat and kits up and disappeared.” Mercedes said, “Well, I know where you can get some MORE kittens! My friend, Elsie found a cat that was run over and after taking care of the body, she went into her back yard and found five kittens on her patio.” I looked at her, and said, “Where does she live?” and Mercedes took me to Elsie's house, introduced me to her, and then returned home.


First attempt at eating. After I put their beer carton in the shower, I ran to the Dollar Store and bought Kitten Chow. They could eat it, but with difficulty. Consulting the NYC Raising Orphaned Kittens manual, I judged them to be between 3 and 4 weeks old, but they are using a little "litter pan" I set up for them, so more like between 4 and 5 weeks.

In Elsie's back yard, were 5 little kittens, between 3 and 4 weeks old, as near as I can tell. Elsie was kind of beside herself. She'd called the Humane Society, and they don't take kittens that young and Elsie knew nothing about what to do with little kittens, as she was more of a dog person. She was pacing back and forth and rather agitated. I knew right away she was a compassionate person, and cared. I sat on the patio and just observed the kittens for a few minutes.


The all ginger-swirl kitten has a fiery little temper to match. Tonight, as I picked him up to look at his face, ears and tummy, he bit me. Kitten teeth are not the MOST formidable weapon. RAWR! It was just a nip, and a moment later, he was snuggled up against my neck.

Kittens that little tend to nest, and these little guys had nowhere to nest and they were just kid of crawling around and mewling. I picked up a fine ginger-swirl kitten, who was already brawling with his siblings, and a lovely pale tortoise shell, but I kept sitting there, looking at the others, all forlorn, no mama and now, some stranger is taking two of their litter mates. Well, that wouldn't do. After a long, slow deliberation; all of two seconds, I looked up at Elsie and said, “Find me a box; I'm gonna take all of 'em!” (One of my dearest friends, Jeremy from Runescape, when I related the story to him said "Oh! Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit!" Yup. Jeremy is an angel; he and his family have fostered litters of orphaned kittens for YEARS and it's ingrained in his heart to be loving and giving; he was thrilled.)


Second foray into the kitten chow. They kind of have the profile of a mix of Yoda and the "Creeping Terror" from the movie of the same name. They just lack the radiator hoses on their faces, and tarps for bodies. Plus, they don't "eat" willing victims.

Anyway, Elsie kind of goggled at me for a moment, then said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yes. I've hand-raised kittens before and I can do it now. I know this is upsetting for you.” She went back into her house and came out with a beer carton. We put all of the kittens in their beer carton, and as I was getting ready to make my goodbyes, little arms were sticking out the holes and waving around on all sides. Sometimes a head would pop out and then back in, but they weren't crying anymore. Elsie watched me for a minute as I talked to them and she said, “just a minute”, and went back into her house. She came back in an instant and said, “I know you're poor, I'm poor, we're all poor around here, but, please take this. You've done such a kindness”, and pressed a 100.00 bill into my hand. I started to cry. We hugged and I told her I'd keep her updated on their growth.

I cried all the way home, with my beer carton of kittens, their little arms flailing and a head or two bobbing up now and then, and me, really feeling my way with my cane, because I sure as hell had trouble seeing. Just another day on Nebraska Avenue.


This little lavendar tortoise-shell kitten was the first to use the little litter pan. I bought several more of these at Walmart. Things have to be scrupulously clean for the little ones. They are prey to lots of different infections and conditions. 

This morning, bright and early, Alex and I went to our nearest Walmart and I picked up plenty of supplies for the kittens. Dry kitten formula, pedialyte, lots and lots of extra wash clothes and little blankets to keep them warm in. I've gotten some good advice from people; you can take kitten chow and throw it in a blender and make a fine powder from it and mix it with the kitten formula and pedialyte. I got them little feeder bottles, but they wouldn't take the nipple, preferring to stand IN the dish and eat, so they were on they're way to being weaned.

They were also filthy, so tiny kitten baths were in order. Bathing a kitten is much, much easier than trying to bathe a cat. My Daddy and an orange tabby we had, had a running feud for years. The cat would roll in motor oil, because he knew my Daddy didn't like the smell of inorganic chemicals and then would come in the house and lie under my dad's feet. My father would sniff the air and say, “What in the hell is that smell?”, look down and find an oil-coated Oliver under him. “Gah! You need a bath!” He'd snatch Oliver up, and they'd go into the Master Bath, where I'd hear all sorts of yowling and banging and sounds of the shower curtain being torn off of it's rings and things crashing around in the bathroom. About a half-hour later, Daddy would emerge with bloodied arms and face, and a wet, disgruntled Oliver. “And THIS time, you STAY clean!” my Daddy would holler at the cat.


My mother and father, circa 1969. Oliver is lurking somewhere. I'm taking the picture. The two large dogs, are part Great Pyrenees and part-I-Forget. The little terrier was named "Waffles". The two big dogs were named (from left) Quetzelcoatl and Van Gogh. Blame my mom for those names. The dogs were wonderful, by the way. The gentleman lurking in the background is my godfather, Hank Birch. He visited us one summer, until my mom got fed up, and told him to go home and sober up.

All would be calm until the cat would be taking a shit in my mother's flower beds and my father, would go out with the can opener and rattle it. So, poor Oliver didn't know whether to finish pooping, or if he should go eat. My mom would say, “Glenn, you're in for trouble!” The next night, the whole house was awakened by a giant shriek. Oliver had jumped from the window sill down onto my father's chest while he slept. Ah, cats. They are ingenious and as Leonardo da Vinci would say “The smallest of the felines is a Masterpiece!” He wasn't kidding!


There is no shame in being poor; there is no shame in living from day to day and just trying to get along the best you can. It's how we treat one another and the world around us, that will be our legacy and that's really all that matters.

So, with my five blessings, I'm adding a PayPal button to my account on this blog. If anyone cares to donate to these little guys to get them grown properly, please feel free to do so. I will give credit here in my blog and explain where every penny goes! If not, that is fine as well. I have had a 50.00 donation from "Cat Mommy", and with her 50.00, I was able to purchase more towels, the pedialyte, extra kitten chow and formula. My thanks and love to out to you, "Cat Mommy"! I will have more pictures; hopefully not blurry ones, but remember, we're dealing with the famous Wallace “gene” here, which translates to “no picture shall be rendered understandable.” 
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