That is definitely redundant title on 2-3 levels but that’s how I would describe the tiny ball of fur I found at my doorstep Thursday morning. I had seen this kitten the night before, just sitting in my driveway, squinting and looking unwell. When I tried to approach it that night, it hid behind some plants I couldn’t reach. I went into the house, opened a can of food and poured on the concrete. Sounds barbaric but I didn’t want the kitten getting its head stuck in the aluminum can or cutting itself from the can’s rim somehow. I instantly overthink but shit like that happens, okay? I came back out to find the food was gone but I left a tiny bowl of water nearby.
When I saw this same kitten again at the doorstep, it was in a turtle position and sitting in the sunlight. Its getting to that point in Houston where even the morning sun is unbearable by 10am/11am. I was already late-ish to work but decided to take in the kitten; I put it in Lisa’s cat taxi, making it as comfortable as possible with one of my small bath towels, a tiny bowl for food and another for water. Those condiment bowls I bought from Target finally came in handy. The kitten devoured the food and went to sleep. I went to work. I came home midday to check on the kitten, I discovered a mess of water, urine, and poop. Classic pet-mom thing to do, check the poop to see if it was solid. Which it was, so that made me happy. The smell was extra foul so I found that to be odd. I just thought if it was solid, it was good enough. I know this paragraph has taken a turn in an awkward direction – poop talk – but I kept thinking back to when Lisa was a kitten and her poops were solid but not smelly at all. Like a human baby, right? Their first solid poops shouldn’t really smell – or smell extra foul. Okay, back on main subject. Maybe this kitten was more sick than I realized.
By the end of Thursday, I knew I had to figure something out. I examined the kitten really well. I gave it a wet cloth bath and noticed it had scabs all over it’s body. A good 75%. The brownish color transferring off the fur and onto the wet cloths puzzled me. I didn’t know if it was dirt, old urine and feces, or old blood. The kitten was finally clean and I could see its true fur. It didn’t have any fleas, and like mosquitoes – fleas aren’t attracted to “bad blood”. I should fact check that. It crossed my mind that this kitten was so sick, fleas didn’t want to even bother. I examined the fur and it was dull but I was determined to care for this kitten until it could grow a healthy shiny coat again. I noticed early on it couldn’t open its eyes all the way. Clearly in pain. I googled what the scabs could be but the more I googled, I kept finding pictures of sick cats and made me too sad to continue. When it could manage to open it’s eyes just very slightly, I could see greenish blue eyes. I thought once I got it clean enough, it would be able to open its eyes properly but that didn’t happen. I noticed it could not move much at all. Looking at its paws, they were very weak, and almost looked bent. The kitten didn’t have many positions, it either sat in regular cat position or turtle mode. This kitten was in bad shape. I transferred the kitten into a storage basket where I would be able to put a bigger towel and mold it in a comfortable way for it to sleep. Food and water always nearby. It couldn’t move much so I knew it wasn’t going to climb out even if I made the towel overlap around the edges of the storage box. This is a huge storage box btw. I wanted the kitten to eventually move around. It couldn’t take 2 steps without resting. I even observed how it would pee and poop. It would go #1 and #2 and lay back down on it’s own mess! So yes, another change of towels and another cloth bath. That was a challenge I wasn’t sure how to handle. I didn’t want to put in a smaller box of kitty litter – not knowing what the litter would do to it’s cracked/exposed skin. I figure I would change the towel as often as I could. It didn’t seem to pee or poop much unless I was home and somewhat force feeding it. I knew whatever it was dealing with, it was beyond me, I knew I had to ultimately take it to the vet.
By Friday morning, I called a few cat doctor offices – all booked and offices closed to walk-ins but even no office appointments. They were conducting visits from people’s cars. The earliest availability was next Friday. This news did not overwhelm me but I was also in the middle of payroll at work – one of the busiest times of the month for me. I was just feeling drained but I knew my responsibilities. Friday felt like 2 days. I went home midday to check on kitten, changed it’s towel because I smelled urine. Gave it a new towel, new food and water, gave it another wipe down, went to work. Kitten was fine when I came home from work. Giving good loud meows, purred when I held it, and ate a little bit. Very little compared to the day before but I was just glad it was eating at all. Legs and paws still seemed weak, I wanted it to be able to lay down a certain way, so that all of it’s pressure from sitting up wasn’t applied to it’s paws. I held it in my hands for a while and let it sleep. I then put it back in it’s box to relax completely and checked on it 2-3 times before I went to bed. Lisa was not happy about the whole thing. I raised her to be a brat cat. Zero maternal instincts kicked in for Lisa. I think Lisa still thinks she’s a baby. I kept Lisa away and that wasn’t difficult because Lisa didn’t want anything to do with the new kitten.
Saturday morning, I noticed the kitten was still sleeping. Didn’t eat or drink water during the night but clearly breathing. I didn’t want to make it wake up to eat so I let it sleep. I figured kittens like human babies needed as much sleep as possible. 1-2 hours passed and I saw she was in a different sleeping position – a fetal position, still breathing, still sleeping. It finally looked comfortable and I felt relief that it could move around and find a new position. I was feeling hopeful. I laid in bed thinking about what I had to do to make Lisa learn how to care for her new little brother/sister. I got up to check on it – still sleeping, still breathing. I added more food and water to it’s bowls before I left to Target to get it proper kitten food. I was gone 38 minutes.
I was keeping this kitten in the open storage box in my walk-in closet. I don’t want people thinking I had a top on this box, I actually had another towel on top covering the box halfway. The box is clear and standing from my closet door looking in, I saw it wasn’t in it’s normal corner sleeping but it had moved to the other side of the box. I was proud it had moved. I uncovered the box to find it laying the same way Simba was when he ran away and ended up on that desert land. I thought that was so strange. Before I made an attempt to wake it up, I watched it’s body to see if it was sleeping. The second I realized it wasn’t breathing, I made noises. I touched it’s head and it didn’t react. I lightly shook the box and kept asking it to wake up. I stood up and panicked. I had so much guilt for leaving but I couldn’t figure out how things went wrong in 38 minutes. I kept thinking scenarios but it was pointless. I kept thinking about last night and how present it was.
I never thought about taking pictures of it when it was alive. I thought about it once, but considering it’s condition and assuming it was going to get better, I didn’t want photos of it during a time it was ill. I wanted it to get all better and take a nice picture of it. The state it was in was not a memory I wanted to be reminded of. It’s like when someone is sick, the last thing they want is a photo taken, and have that picture to look back on. So I am sad I can’t include a picture of it here for a proper post but I think it’s not right to show pictures of a sick kitten. In my opinion. Hopefully this post was enough to recognize it’s life. May sound crazy but I value all lives. Even if it was a kitten I took in and cared for for 2.5 days, it was a special little life that crossed with mine.
I just did some brief googling and read kittens get sick easily and often. They could be totally active, playing, curious, and normal and 4-6 hours they could get sick and just pass away. Maybe when I noticed it sleeping as long as it did, I should’ve waken it up and forced it to eat. I’ve always been the type to see a person or animal sleeping, to try my hardest, to not wake them up.