Written by Kathy Kimber of California
I was sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, vegging and watching Animal Planet when I become aware of a noise. It sounded kind of like a distressed kitten but I figured it was probably a bird. It kept coming intermittently. Finally, I decided that it really did sound like a kitten so I went out on the deck to listen some more.
It was coming from the brush area up the hill. (Our apartment is on a really steep hill that connects directly to open space.) So I got dressed and crawled down the hill (literally using my hands at some points). I stopped and listened. Of course, nothing. So I decided I was imagining it and went back inside. But, back on the deck, I heard it again and it sounded even more like a kitten so I climbed back down the hill and actually went into the brush. I found a deer track or some such and followed it to the sound. And there was a kitten! Oy! Now what? It sounded like there might be one or two more but I couldn’t see them. And this one had flies around it.
I climbed back up the hill and went to the laundry room to talk to my husband, Nelson about it. His first instinct was to leave them for mom, thinking how upsetting it would be for mom if she came back and they were gone. Plus the potential problem if we fussed with them and she came back and rejected them because of our scent. But I was still worried. It was starting to get dark and Nelson wanted to go look in case we decided that we needed to go find them later so we climbed back down the hill and into the brush and he spotted a kitten. Turns out it was a different one than the one I spotted. And it was about 4 feet further up the hill.
Let’s Rescue Them
We think that something had scared their mom and that she was moving them and something spooked her. She likely dropped the kitten so that she could draw whatever scared her away from it. I pointed out the one I’d found to Nelson. It was still in the little nest of eucalyptus leaves under a manzanita tree. We listened and listened and heard a third one totally hidden under the leaves. The second one had flies around it, too. That and the fact that they were so separated spatially made Nelson say, “Let’s rescue them.” So we nabbed the two we could see, then rooted around for the third and took them all home.
They were only about 5 days old, still with eyes closed. Two of them had their dried umbilical cords still attached. While I raced out to the pet store to buy kitten replacement milk and bottles, Nelson bathed them to remove fleas and he warmed them up. We spent the next two months feeding them every two hours, cleaning them, breathing on them, etc. At night, we slept with their box between us on the bed.
When they needed a bigger box, it went on the floor next to the bed where I could put my hand in to reassure them when they needed it. During the day, Nelson, who drives from one appointment to the next, took them along with him. He fed them every two hours or in between appointments.
Since they spent so much time in the car, Nelson built them a shelf that was level with the bottom of the windows so they could see outside as he drove around. And we drove with them to Santa Barbara for a family memorial service, stopping at restaurants and rest stops to bottle feed them.
We were very fortunate that the property manager at our apartments let us keep them. (When we had her over to see them, she happened to have a friend visiting who did cat rescue. That couldn’t have hurt.) They’re now 7 years old and the delight of our lives. Spot is a male, black and white tuxedo with spots – on his feet, on his belly, on his chin, and even on the roof of his mouth. Truffle is a female, black and white tuxedo without spots. We called her Spotless before we settled on her permanent name. And Smudge is a male, mostly black with some white, including a lovely white fan on his belly. More photos of the kittens
This story was brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase