Written by Carolyn Craig of California
It was close to midnight when my pager sounded, a call from the night caregiver of a senior care facility our hospice serves. As the on-call night nurse, it was my responsibility to respond to after-hours emergencies. The thoughtful and able caregiver described breathing problems for one of her charges. Could I come? Of course, I told her, and was quickly on my way. It was a chilly late October night so I pulled on a warm fleece jacket with deep, zippered pockets before heading out the door.
After attending to my patient and feeling assured that her symptoms were under control, I headed back to the nurses’ station. Suddenly, a series of loud piercing wails filled the air. Since frightened human beings can make amazingly shrill sounds, I assumed one of the elderly residents must be having a nightmare. ”Is that one of our hospice patients?” I asked.
“No,” the caregiver replied. “It’s a baby kitty. Our administrator found her in the parking lot today. She won’t eat.”
When I looked at her, my heart nearly broke…
My 21-year-old cat Lazarus had died three weeks earlier and I was grieving. Although I had resolved not to get another cat for at least a year, I found myself asking to see the kitten. What could it hurt just to see her? When I looked at her, my heart nearly broke. Huddled in a corner was a tiny, dirty, pitiful kitten. Although her eyes were clouded over and she appeared to be partially blind, she darted away as I approached, shrieking the whole time. The staff had carefully put out food and something for her to drink but she didn’t know how to eat since she was too young to have been weaned from her mother. The administrator had found her hiding in a pile of leaves outside the facility with just her ears peeking out and had taken her inside for warmth.
As I left, a tiny bundle was nestled inside one of my fleece pockets. That night she got a warm bath to bring up her body temperature and for the next 3 or 4 days I fed her with a dropper since she was too weak to eat. Her tiny tail was broken in 3 places, she weighed only a pound and she had abrasions on her face. She has since thrived and today that tiny kitten I named Sheila is a beautiful, healthy, intelligent one-year-old. Her sight is completely restored.
I’m so grateful to the kind staff at the senior facility for rescuing her and trusting me to take care of her. People tell me she’s a lucky cat to have found me but I disagree. “I’m the lucky one,” I tell them. “She helped my heart to heal. Sheila is a prize.”
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