It’s been a rough 72 hours. On Monday, I began taking care of a newborn kitten that appeared to be abandoned. He was tiny with part of his umbilical cord still attached and his eyes tightly closed. I wrapped him up in a towel and started to bottle feed him. Later, I went to the store to buy stuffed animals so he could have something to cuddle up with in his box that would hopefully keep him warm, seeing as it’s been fairly cold lately, even indoors. On Tuesday, I came to the realization that I couldn’t give him the care he really needed due to my inconsistent schedule. I was torn between seeing if his mother would take him back or seeing if I could find someone who could properly care for him. I spent the day cuddling with him on my chest, stroking his little body, wondering what he’d look like as a full-grown cat with his markings, and trying to guess what color the pink around his nose would take on. I fed him, I stimulated him to go to the bathroom, and I loved him wholeheartedly. I caught a glimpse of how parents must feel watching over their newborn child. There’s something about someone so small depending on you and the little cries it lets out. Well, Tuesday night, when I returned to my boyfriend’s, where the kitten was, after picking stuff up from home, I looked at my phone hoping to have a text from my mom saying she found someone who could take care of the kitten. Instead, I saw a text from my boyfriend saying he thought the kitty passed away. I hurried inside, though reluctantly, and sat on the floor next to the box. When I tried to pick him up, the harsh reality that he was gone hit. I put him back down and pet his back while my eyes started to tear up leading to sobbing. I’d never see his little eyes open or see him get big enough to make it out of the box on his own and explore the world around him. I felt awful, apologizing over and over in my head to him if something I did caused this and also to his mom for not keeping her baby alive. I thought I was doing something good and helpful. I sobbed more this morning before taking him home to my house to be buried and I cried again when I took him from his box to say goodbye.
People always call me the crazy cat lady. Perhaps I am, but I’ve always felt like a natural with them. We currently have a “stray” who’s been at our house for 10 years and 3 adolescent kitties whose mom ran off to get pregnant again. We’ve always had strays. We’ve also always tried to do what we could to give them somewhere warm to sleep and food to eat. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent outside trying to get a scared cat to let me pet them. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that food, patience, and trust go a long way (with more than cats, too). As I pet Milo’s belly (he’s our 10-year resident), I’m always so thankful he gave his trust to me. There’s something about it that makes me emotional and grateful all in one. It takes time and attention to learn the best ways to handle each creature. Just like children, each cat has its own unique personality with different likes and dislikes. I’ve always loved the special bond that forms when you take the opportunity to respect that and build on it with any animal, humans included. As I sit to pet the cats, or even as I listened to music while I drove around yesterday, I realize there are things that cause our souls to sigh and make us feel at home. Places, activities, moments that make us feel so in touch with our truest selves that we can say we’re in our element.
As I go about my days, I’ve learned to be mindful of these moments and document them in my mind. When I work in my garden or just go out to look at it, I feel it. When I stretch, do more calisthenic gymnastics-like moves, or dance around my kitchen, I feel it. When a Motown song comes on, no matter how much I may love classic rock or some honky-tonk sounds in a country song, I feel it. When I work with children, despite my lack of experience around them, I feel it. When I have the opportunity to rearrange, reorganize, or display something, as I sometimes did at my previous job, I feel it. And yes, when I was taking care of the kitten, I felt it too. I hope that you have moments where you feel it too, even if the absence of what sparks it has the ability to sadden you at your core. If you do, please feel free to share.