Buttercup & Westley

a very dirty picture

Six weeks ago, my mother called me during a workday. My mother only calls during work hours if something important is happening. It makes my heart race the same way that calls after midnight do. This call was not an exception to that rule. One of my mother’s co-workers heard noises coming from a kitchen trash bag and upon searching that squeaking bag of trash, found two newborn kittens inside a sealed ziploc bag. The driver called in his find and my mother told him to bring the kittens to the office while calling me to get the kittens help.

They were so tiny. Their wet fur made them look like just hatched chickens. I would like to say that I rushed them to the vet, but that isn’t true. I pulled the car over to check on them four times between the Oak Ridge trash collection office and my West Knoxville vet. I truly believe that they could have easily gone to sleep and never awakened. They were so tiny and so weak.

The vet was less than hopeful. I took the kittens home and stared at them. I stared at them when I fed them formula with a syringe because they were too weak to suckle. I stared at them when they slept. At night, I put the cat carrier containing the mouse sized kittens and bottles of hot water covered with socks, on my bed. It was as close to co-sleeping as I could get.

I didn’t sleep. For the first three days, I fed them, wiped bottoms with wet cotton balls, obsessed over their body temperatures and stared at them. Well, at night I did something else. I cried.

I cried from worry. I cried from sadness. I cried from sleep deprivation. The nights were not fun.

After a few days, I tried to feel more confident about their prognosis. Then, the boy kitten’s eye started oozing. I didn’t know if this was the beginning of the end or if he was destined to be a pirate kitten. After several days of putting ointment ON his eyes, he perked up and the drainage stopped.

The kittens transitioned to bottles and started to resemble kittens. Kittens that fit in the palm of your hand.

The stronger the kittens got, the less anxious I became. I started calling the kittens by names as though it was suddenly safe to become emotionally invested in them. That was silly. I could not be more emotionally attached. I love these furballs. I love them for fighting so hard when all of the odds were against them. I love the way they crawl to my face for kisses. I love the way my children nurture and care for the kittens. I love the tiny little thumps the kitten paws make when we put them on the wood floors for exercise. I love that my old German Shepherd allows the kittens to run for about ten minutes before she herds the kittens back to a person as if to say, “Play time is over. Naptime.” Yes, she means HER nap, but it is still a wonderful thing to watch.

This is the good stuff.

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