One night, after a long day of medications and force feeding and wondering who would live or die that day, I made my way upstairs to get ready for bed. Jazzy was the last sick one I would take care of before trying to get some sleep. She was living in the upstairs bathroom. I walked in, wiped her eyes and nose, and sat down on the floor beside her. I put out some food and planned to watch to make sure she ate. With her face down toward the food bowl, I heard a bright, loud meow. Jazzy has a mostly silent meow. Her mouth opens, but really nothing audible comes out. I sat there looking down at Jazzy. I said her name. She looked up at me and there was that silent meow. As she closed her mouth, I heard it again. A nice strong kitten meow. She was looking right at me. Her mouth had not opened. I sat there with sort of a semi-shock stare and thought to myself - Well, you’ve done it now. The stress got you, and you’ve gone completely crazy. Jazzy did not just meow even though you’re sure you heard it. Auditory hallucinations. I wonder how long before the voices start. . . .
And then again. A longer, louder meow now. I jumped up. There had to be another kitten in this bathroom. But where? I started looking around. I was sure I was going completely mad. Again. I tried to follow the sound. It was coming from the bathtub. There had been a large crate in the tub that Jazzy had come to us in. I realized that crate was gone, and a slightly bigger one took its place. I looked inside. And there was the tiniest little gray tabby I’ve ever seen. And he meowed right at me. I smiled as tears filled my eyes. I wasn’t crazy. There really was a kitten meowing in that room. The crate was big and there was a very small kitty litter box inside along with a soft towel, and a water bowl. But what was it doing here?
I stepped out into the hall and tapped on Younger Daughter’s bedroom door. (Older Daughter was gone for the evening.) I asked Younger Daughter if she knew there was an extra kitten in the tub. She said yes, but that it had surprised the daylights out of her. She said she was in the bathroom talking to Jazzy, and all of a sudden, Jazzy started talking back. Only Jazzy’s mouth wasn’t moving. I started laughing and told Younger Daughter the exact same thing had just happened to me. We figured out that Older Daughter must have delivered this tiny one to the bathroom between work and her evening plans. We would discover what he was doing here when she got in.
Older Daughter got home and listened to our stories. There were now three stories - all the same. The girls’ dad had the same experience. He was in the bathroom seeing Jazzy with his eyes, but hearing somebody else with his ears. Older Daughter explained that when she got into work that day, this little guy was in a quarantine cage all alone. She named him Oliver. He was a bottle baby. But he was past needing to be fed all throughout the night. He had no idea how to eat solid food yet. He had been returned to the shelter from the foster home where he and his siblings were being bottle fed. Oliver was sick, and the foster mom didn’t have a way to isolate him from the others. When he came back to the shelter, he had not yet learned to eat on his own, and he had two different medications that needed to be given several times a day. Older Daughter knew he would never make it there.
Older Daughter brought him home, and set him up in the upstairs bathtub, and in her haste to get things done and get to her evening plans, she had forgotten to tell any of us about him. We went to bed, and Older Daughter bottle fed Oliver before turning in herself. We didn’t find out until the next day that there was something a little “different” about Oliver. Older Daughter said - Last night, when I bottle fed Oliver, he did something weird with his ears. I can’t really explain it except to say that they move back and forth as he nurses. It looks like he’s trying to get them flapping so he can lift up and fly off. You’re really going to have to see it to believe it.
Well, see it we did. It was exactly as Older Daughter had described. As soon as Oliver latched onto the bottle, his ears started flapping wildly back and forth, just like he was trying for a lift-off. We took turns watching this phenomenon, but it was nearly impossible not to laugh out loud (which would startle Oliver while he was trying to nurse). A little tiny Dumbo, trying to fly away via his ears as he drifted into the pure delight of nursing. Oliver came at a time when we had sick and dying animals everywhere. He, too, was sick, and therefore a worry. But he also brought SUCH a smile.
We set Oliver up in a cage in the downstairs bathroom. So now we had kittens in the kennel office, kittens in the kennel storage room, Jazzy in the upstairs bathroom, and Oliver in the downstairs bathroom. We didn’t know for sure what Oliver’s illness was. But we knew Jazzy had both Rhinotracheitis AND Calici. We didn’t dare put Jazzy and Oliver together. At that time, Jazzy was too sick to care. But Oliver was desperate for our attention. He was living all alone in the bathroom (rarely in his cage) and it was a big old empty room for such a tiny-tiny.
And then Thomas came into the shelter. A single kitten, with nearly the exact symptoms that Oliver had. He was in a quarantine cage, alone. Older Daughter tried him on softened kitten chow (which by now we had weaned Oliver to), and he was able to handle it well. So Thomas came home to join Oliver in our downstairs bathroom. They are perfect for each other. About the same size. Two tiny boys. Another two peas in a pod.
Have a great weekend!