The One With the Kitten

If you follow me on social media, this isn’t big news, though this will be a more coherent telling of the tale. I’ve meant to blog about this and a zillion other things for weeks, but I had a book due and a blog tour I was grossly behind composing posts for, and I wouldn’t let myself blog for fun until I had my work done. As of yesterday, I have my work done, and this morning I pulled up the manuscript for Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) with full intent on forming a partial in the next fourteen days. So now I have permission to tell you about the kitten.

This is the kitten.



On Sunday last weekend I was at the barn with Anna, frantically editing Lonely Hearts in the lounge when a girl Anna’s age came in with a kitten. A tiny, mewling kitten who could barely walk. She tried desperately to knaw on everyone’s fingers, because she was starving. The mother cat had stopped feeding the kittens, and they were only three weeks old. No one knew where the other kitten was, but this one had been found stumbling around. The girl pleaded with her mother to take it home. “I’ll take care if it, I promise.” The mother balked, the father scolded the girl for putting the mother in this position. Meanwhile, the kitten screamed. Eventually the girl got up, tearful, to put the kitten back where she found it.

It was cold, and dark, and the raccoons and other predators would be out. I knew the kitten would be dead by morning if not sooner. Plus I couldn’t get that scream out of my head. It helped nothing she looked like my first cat or my Sidney, two of my favorites who have passed. Without thinking or letting myself analyze anything, I said, “Don’t put her back. I’ll take her.”

I didn’t even ask the barn owner. I simply took the kitten and ran. We stopped at the first pet store on the way home, bought a bottle and formula, and fed her at the checkout. I didn’t call Dan to tell him what we were doing–I couldn’t explain myself. All the way home Anna said, “Mom, are you okay? You seem upset.”

Yes. I’d just stolen a kitten I didn’t want to keep.

Sasha and Mitch chilling before a fire.

Sasha and Mitch chilling before a fire.

The barn owner wasn’t upset–she was thrilled, because she’s wanted us to have one of her cats. Dan wasn’t upset–shocked, because we walked in the door with something mewling, but he got one look at Sasha and melted. “We won’t keep her,” I kept saying. Another woman at the barn was willing to take her, my sister wanted her, and so did half of Facebook and Twitter. Because we have five cats, and it’s too many. Six is insane.

But this kitten is teeny. Younger than any cat I’ve ever adopted. Part of the reason the other mother said no is the kitten needs to be fed every 3-4 hours. When we took her to the vet on Monday, our vet explained how at this age the mother cat would lick the baby’s anus to stimulate defication, so we had to simulate that with a wet cotton ball twice a day. Her fat belly was intestinal worms, but she was too young to worm. So many things about her were intense work. We couldn’t let her loose in the house, or even in a room. We had to drag out the cat kennel my father-in-law had built years ago and set it up in the TV room. Someone had to feed her every three hours, mixing her formula and warming her bottle.

This someone quickly became Anna. It started as she was the one who slept with her the first night, but it was aided by the fact that she was always the one who most wanted a baby kitten around. She was willing to do this intense work, so we let her. But as we talked with our vet and realized no one but we could keep her with the care she needed for several weeks, we acknowledged it would be Anna doing this care…and Anna forming a bond.

We didn’t want another cat, but we couldn’t justify asking Anna to do all the hard work and then pass her off just when she gets easier to manage. So we’re leaving it up to her. If she wants to keep Sasha, she can. If she wants to give her to her aunt, she can do that too. Anna says she’s still making up her mind, but she’s pretty sure she’s going to keep her.

Sasha and Mitch snuggle

Sasha and Mitch snuggle

The other cats overall aren’t sure what they think of her, with the exception of Mitch. Mitch loves Sasha. Grooms her, snuggles with her, plays with her. Sam seems to think she’s a particularly interesting toy. Glinda thinks she’s the antichrist. Walter thinks she’s annoying, and Daisy hates her in the same way she hates most of life. It’s hard to say she’s settling in, because she’s basically an infant, with all the care and work that goes with them.

She is, I will admit, terribly, horribly cute.

Sasha and me

Sasha and me

12 Comments on “The One With the Kitten

  1. I just need to say that Anna is an amazing young lady. Heidi, you and Dan must be so proud of her! I think she rocks! 🙂 And I cannot Awwww! enough over Sasha and Mitch.

  2. I’m sure Anna will keep her after such a bonding experience. This is exactly why I don’t foster kittens (or cats for that matter). It’s so easy to get attached. BTW I think eight is the line for truly crazy cat people.

  3. That kitten is beyond cute – not sure I would have been able to resist her, even without Anna to take care of her. And really – 2 cats:1 human in the household seems like a reasonable ratio to me…

  4. Anna is definitely following in her mom’s compassionate footsteps, what a caring young woman she is! And that kitten is just soooo sweet! Congratulations on the new addition!

  5. It says a lot about both your daughter and her parents that she is willing to do all the hard work, and even considering (though not likely) giving her up after all of it, if it’s what’s best in the long run. That’s pretty awesome!

  6. Raising a kitten that young is extremely challenging (and potentially heartbreaking) work. Kudos to you guys for stepping up and making a difference. I might have kidnapped a few cats myself… and a couple of rats… and the odd turtle or two… 🙂

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