They appeared on our front deck this afternoon, two pre-teen girls. I left my place on the couch and walked to the open sliding door to address them, but before I could say anything, they blurted out “There are kittens under your shed.”
“Kittens?” Kittens under our shed? A strange thing since we don’t have a cat–neither the Tom or the Pussy variety–and it’s rare to see stray cats roaming about here in the mountains for they typically don’t escape too long the eager mouths of our abundant coyotes.
But the youngsters heard stifled meows coming from that backyard out-building of ours, and when they climbed up the slope to our fence, they saw Mama cat sitting nearby, but then she ran away. “There are kitties under your shed,” they said again to me as I walked down the steps and to the back yard with the girls.
Six of us were involved with the rescue; three other youngsters joined the girls and me as we labored about the scene. One brought over a flashlight. The kittens were a far reach from the opening under the shed, so from our potting shed I carted out rakes, brooms, and shovels and a couple of the children took turns raking out excess dirt so they could finally reach the kittens. There was only one, they thought.
We must have worked at it for the better part of an hour, but finally the older boy who did most of the work crawled halfway under the shed and yelled, “I’ve got it,” quickly adding, “There are two,” and out he came with a kitten. The cat was much older than I was expecting, for I was thinking that perhaps their eyes wouldn’t even be open. This kitten appeared to be several weeks old and seemed mature enough to be weaned.
Wild! That kitten had likely never before seen a human, and before we knew what had happened, it leaped away from the youngster who was holding it and took off across our yard. I found gloves in the potting shed for the main rescuer and found two old towels in the garage. “Wrap the other kitten in this towel. Won’t scratch and we’ll be able to hold it better.” We never saw the first kitty again, although we searched carefully.
The children had plans for the remaining kitten and I agreed they could take it home with them, but were they sure it was okay with their parents? “Don’t leave yet,” I told them. “Come to the front. I want to take your picture,” and then I took the kitten in the house so Jerry could see it. He rolled his eyes when I poked the towel-encased kitten before him, and I knew he was thinking, Shirley, we’re not having a cat here!
“There’s the mom,” one of the youngsters said as we finished with the pictures. “We need to give the baby back to its mom.” They set the kitten down facing its mother, and quickly it scampered away.
The children have gone home, and so ends the story, except that I keep thinking that out in this dark night here in Crestline is a mama cat, who this morning lay snugly in the dirt under our shed nursing her two babies. Then came the rescue, and her home was disrupted. I’m wondering about those baby kittens and their mother. Are they together again? Will they sleep snuggled around each other tonight? Will they escape the hungry coyotes? Are they perhaps back under the shed?
I’m thinking too of those sweet youngsters, their bringing over a fist full of cat food for the mother, their diligence at getting to the babies, their kindness, their friendliness. Such as this is why I write. A slice of life, an unexpected event, though examined in the most cursory of manner yet holds countless lessons. I think of the five youngsters I met today who will in but short years be mothers and fathers themselves and their children will run and scratch and eat and sleep. Perhaps one day they, too, will need a rescue.