This little ball of teeth and claws is a 5 week-old-kitten, and her story is pretty incredible.
It started about 10 days ago, after we lost Tonks, but a few days before we lost Lily. I was up to my eyeballs in scheduled feedings and stress and grief, at the end of my emotional strength. John had already been gingerly suggesting we try adopting a new kitten for Lily, in the hopes of rousing her spirits.
I was against this plan.
It was Saturday afternoon, I think, when John again suggested a kitten. I explained - again - why that was a terrible idea, and not 10 minutes later, John's phone blooped with a new text. It was our neighbor, Rebecca:
"Hey, I just found a kitten on the highway. Do you want a new cat?"
Rebecca had no idea of our circumstances, no idea we'd just lost Tonks. John also claims this was NOT some nefarious plan the two of them concocted behind my back, though I still have my suspicions. And to be fair, Rebecca is the sort of sweet soul who's always bringing in lost dogs and hunting down their owners.
Rebecca told us she first thought the kitten was a black hair scrunchie there in the middle of the road. The asphalt was bleached gray so everyone could see the black lump, and cars were swerving to avoid it. When Rebecca realized the lump was alive, she immediately pulled over to rescue the tiny thing. She tells us the kitten was splayed spread-eagle, all her claws out, hanging on for dear life. Other than being completely terrified, though, the kitten seemed perfectly healthy. So Rebecca scooped her into the car and headed home.
Once home their adventure continued, because Rebecca couldn't find the kitten anywhere in the car. It was just gone. Fast forward an hour and a disassembled dash board, and she found the kitten nestled deep inside the car's guts, completely silent, only her open eyes visible.
Rebecca has dogs at home, so her house wasn't the best environment for a tiny terrified kitten. That's when she texted John.
How do you say no to a story like that, you guys?
You don't, that's how.
So we agreed to foster her, and set the kitten up in our guest bath. We gave her towels and hidey holes and food and water, and then mostly turned our attention back to Lily.
Then Monday happened.
I won't talk about that.
Late Monday John had to get us home again from the vet, and we were both so wrecked I knew it was dangerous to drive. Desperately I started talking about the kitten to get our minds off it, about how we had to feed her and bathe her and set up this-and-that for her. So we got home safely, and that's what we did: we immediately set to work preparing her food, scooping her litter, and giving her first bath. Kitten was loud and demanding and DEEPLY offended by said bath, so between combing out her fleas and disinfecting the bleeding scratches all over my arms and then holding her in a warm towel for hours until she fell asleep, it was impossible to focus on anything else.
Her eyes are almost a completely true gray - it took me about three days to realize they're actually a little green.
After several hours I got up and left the room, quietly shutting the door so I wouldn't wake John.
Then I just stood there outside the bedroom door, frozen. Most nights when my insomnia is that bad I pace the house, and the sound of my movement rouses the girls. They'd come over with yawns and meows, and then I'd pick up Lily, and we'd walk together. Round and round the house. She loved being held on my left shoulder, and I'd bury my face in her side as we'd make long loops through the main rooms of the house. Somehow Lily's fur always smelled faintly of graham crackers, and that sweetness never failed to calm me.
So I stood there in the quiet and the dark that night, unconsciously waiting for soft steps I knew weren't coming, and felt... lost. I didn't know where to go or what to do. "What now?" I thought. "What do I do now?"
Then through the quiet and empty stillness, there came a tiny meow from the guest bath. Then another, louder and more insistent.
I opened the bathroom door and sat on the floor inside, legs outstretched. I didn't look for the kitten, but at the sound of my soft sobs she appeared. She tumbled towards me and rubbed her tiny head on my feet - and then she started to purr, her very first purr here. It was so loud, so startling, and when I put my hand out to pet her she pounced, grabbing my fingers in a stabby bear hug and making me chuckle. She started batting at the tissues in my hand, then the drawstring on my PJs. In short, she refused to let me focus on anything but her... and that was exactly what I needed.
The next day we moved Kitten into my office. We bought her toys and dishes and a little cat tent to sleep in, and every day she got a little bolder, a little more affectionate. John took her to her first checkup where she promptly caught a cold (grr), so now she keeps sneezing right after rubbing her face against ours, which is gross and adorable at the same time.
John and I still consider Kitten a foster, and honestly I don't know what the future holds for the three of us. She's still too young for certain tests at the vet, so we're on hold for a couple weeks until she gets a clean bill of health. (She can't be around other cats 'til then.) And for our part, honestly I feel so beat up I don't know that I'm ready to commit to another cat. I don't know if I'm up for the terrors of kitten-hood and its nonstop cyclone of destruction, heh. Especially since we'd have to get a second cat, so Kitten could have a playmate. I don't know, you guys. I just don't know. (And John seems equally flummoxed.)
She's learning to ride shoulders now. John is very proud.
So for now we're just existing in the moment and enjoying each others' company as much as we can. Kitten plays on my lap while I work, and every night the three of us hang out in John's room, Kitten zooming around, jumping from lap to lap while we watch TV or play games. She's been my bite-y little lifeline, a reason to get up on the really hard days, and a hundred reasons to smile with every purr, lunge, and sudden snuggle. I do love her, and I love that she came to us right when we needed her most. She will always be my black ray of sunshine, the light John and I needed in a dark time, and you can bet I will fight tooth and nail to give her the best home possible as thanks. After all she's done for us, for me, she deserves it.
You're probably noticing we haven't named Kitten. It's partly because I don't know that we'll keep her, and partly because nothing we've thought of seems to fit. So hey, suggestions welcome! Maybe as her personality comes out more something will click.
I also need to thank you - all of you - for the thousands of hearts and prayers and sweet wishes of healing you've sent our way. Your links and photos on Facebook gave me much-needed smiles and distraction, and your financial support has been flatly overwhelming, allowing us to pay off all of our vet bills from the last two months, which were substantial. I can't tell you how grateful and humbled and loved John and I feel right now, all thanks to this community. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Oh! And here's a bunch of video clips of Kitten being a kitten:
I suggest having the sound on for purrs and laughter.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a kitten climbing my leg. Apparently this post has taken too much of my time, and she requires food and/or a wrestling match immediately.
Rest assured, I'll keep you guys posted.