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Sunday, December 5, 2004
Four furry sets of paws find
Homes WantedThe kittens are getting big (about three pounds) and they're weaned. It's now time to find them a home.
Are you interested in adopting Cry Baby, Fluffy or Chubby?
Ken Ige and his wife, Stacy Yamasaki-Ige, only ask that they be kept indoors. They figure the kittens have used up most of their nine lives.
If interested, please e-mail Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I filled out the form at the humane society, and the lady at the desk took the fragile box and thanked me for bringing them in. I was about to leave when I thought to ask, "Do you think they'll make it?" After all, they didn't have anything to eat or drink for four days so soon after birth.
The lady paused. Apologizing, she said, "They are too young. They will have to be put down."
What?! I didn't understand.
She kindly explained that caring for a newborn kitten is exhausting, around-the-clock work. Foremost, they need to be hand-fed every two hours, and the humane society simply doesn't have the manpower. The kittens would have a chance if the society had a lactating mother cat that could nurse them. But there were none. The kittens' only chance was a foster parent, someone who could raise them until they were strong enough to eat on their own and be put up for adoption. And, understandably, there just aren't any folks waiting and willing to put their own lives -- and sleep -- on hold.
I stood there, halfway out the door, thinking about the crying kitten and our "talk" on the drive into town.
Waitaminute, I thought. Reality check. Cats can't understand English! And who has the time to wake up every two hours?! I was fairly new at my job, and that needed my utmost attention. I have a house and yard to take care of. I have two dogs! I couldn't possibly have enough time to take care of these kittens. And I'M NOT A CAT PERSON! But my conscience nagged ...
At the same time, she realized what a gargantuan undertaking it would be. So I stood there in the humane society office, holding the phone, neither of us saying a word. No one wanted to be responsible for either of our two options: Walk away and leave the kittens to certain death, or take them home and possibly kill ourselves in the process.
The sensible thing was apparent: Walk away. I had already done more than most folks would have. I have a life that's already busy. Walk away. But I couldn't shake the bottom line. Weighed on the scale of humanity, certain death vs. a month or so of sleep deprivation just didn't balance out. Not even close. Fool's math, I know, but that was my thinking at the time.
After a long silence, my wife said, "I'll support whatever decision you make."
In one deft move, she had slithered to the escape pod, leaving me to steer this ill-fated ship. Smart girl. That's why I married her.
So I stepped up. I told the lady I was going to keep the kittens. The humane society did well to hire this woman (unfortunately, this lolo didn't get her name). She didn't just hand me the box and say, "See ya!" even though that would have saved her some work.
Instead, she cautioned me to think about it. She gave me the laundry list of things to do and, most important, told me that even if I followed every instruction to the letter, some or all of the kittens could still die. She asked if I wanted to reconsider. There it was: a back door. A way out.
But the kittens had a chance with me. And a chance, however small, beats certain death. I had to take them home. Besides ...
It has been a learning experience, to say the least. We learned that a simple sugar-water solution can stop seizures caused by low blood sugar.
We learned to take a kitten's rectal temperature (you use a human-size thermometer on a 6-ounce kitten. Oh, the humanity!).
When one kitten got sick and lost nearly half its body weight, I (not we) learned to give subcutaneous fluid injections. And we learned how to warm four itty-bitty bottles of expensive special kitty milk every two hours (and sterilize them each time). And how to MAKE each kitten use the bathroom after each feeding. And we learned how to keep their area at a constant temperature. And how to keep them separated from two big in-the-house dogs that would love them ... as pupus.
We learned how to juggle our work schedules. OK, my wife juggled her schedule. OK, she took them to work with her (big mahalo to her boss Dave!).
And we learned why sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
But the kittens are growing strong. And we've grown attached. They're finally starting to eat dry food. Soon they'll be ready for adoption.
A connection has definitely been formed. But Runty Boy, as we call him, is not cute in the classical sense. My best description is an alien rat. If he weren't so small, he'd be scary. My wife says this lack of cuteness will keep him from being adopted and that we must protect him from such painful rejection. Hmm ...
I see the twisted logic. But keep him? We have two dogs that likely consider Runt prey, not pal. The idea of nursing him back to health only to have him eaten by one of my own dogs ... I couldn't take that.
But my wife thinks I can train the dogs to coexist with Runt. There are lots of families with both cats and dogs, so I know it's possible. I'm sure I could find tons of information on the Internet. And I've seen that Dog Whisperer guy do amazing things. It might be possible. It might be possible. I guess I'll have to look into it.
But I'm not promising anything.