On the Thursday evening of our vacation, we spent hours trying to trap a crippled tuxedo we named Domino out of a feral colony living in an abandoned hotel. We failed. But just as we were packing up to leave, an orange kitten went in the trap and we got him. The problem was that during the hours of waiting to get our Domino, we had lots of time to watch this orange kitten playing with his sibling. There were two orange kittens, and now they were separated. Getting the second kitten would be like plucking a needle from a haystack. The next day would only offer daylight hours to try for trapping. The cats weren’t out of hiding until late evening. Anita needed her trap back on Friday afternoon, AND I had to start packing to get us ready to leave early Saturday morning. On Thursday night, we took a very late, very short stroll around our palm tree paradise. The cottages were all dark - everyone was tucked in for the night. We walked and quietly talked. We had one orange kitten - one little soul who wouldn’t grow up in that nightmare. Of course we were happy to be taking him home to our cathouse. But we didn’t have Domino and we didn’t have Sunshine’s sibling. We also knew we wouldn’t gain anything by taking the trap back the next morning. But we had to do it - just in case.
After breakfast Friday morning, my husband and daughters decided to make the trip to the hotel without me. After all, I was trying to keep a crying baby quiet in our cottage. It only takes one person to operate the trap, so my family assured me they could handle it between the three of them. I would stay at the cottage, do some straightening up and some packing. I told them to keep me posted via cell phone.
My husband texted me twice while they were there. First text said - No cats. No movement whatsoever. The second text said - Nothing. Sorry. We are packing up. I could feel it in my chest. A wave of sadness washed over me - for Domino, for ALL of the cats in that colony, for Sunshine and the sibling he loved. I wondered if it was a mistake to be taking Sunshine away. But I knew he would adjust over time, and he would be the lone starfish in this story that got a chance at the good life. I texted back - OK. See you soon, and then I stared out the window at the palm trees. I would have to be OK with saving one little orange kitten. I wished I wasn’t feeling so sad. My phone alerted me to one final text from my husband. We got the kitten.
I started trying to dial through and talk to my husband. When he didn’t pick up, I tried one of the girls’ phones. Call waiting beeped through and I grabbed it. You got the other kitten?!? How? My family said they were on their way and they would tell me the story when they got there. My heart was pounding. I had already decided that I was willing to burden my new friend Anita with the prospects of trying to get Domino at some point. But we all wanted to take that orange kitten home NOW so that he wouldn’t be without Sunshine and Sunshine wouldn’t be without him. When my family pulled up in front of the cottage they raced in with our soft cat carrier (ALWAYS in the vehicle) but no trap. Everybody started talking at once.
They were leaving and had walked over to pack up the trap. Older Daughter stepped into one of the abandoned rooms just behind where the kittens had played for so long the evening before. And there he was. Older Daughter motioned Younger Daughter into place and they cornered him. Older Daughter said in the split second that she scanned the room, she saw dozens of places for this kitten to escape into. She absolutely KNEW they were gonna lose him. She went for it, pinned him, Younger Daughter threw her a towel, and they literally ran back to the vehicle. They quickly put him into our soft carrier and it was done. (Older Daughter later said she knew I would never have allowed her to go into one of those rooms. She was right.)
Sitting there in the cottage on our last day of vacation, I felt a whiff of happiness. My heart was still broken for the huge colony we would leave behind. We felt as if we knew some of those cats after watching them for so long. And I wouldn’t rest until I talked to Anita about Domino. But I was ecstatic to have the two brothers re-united. This was a very stressful thing for them to go through. They needed each other. And now TWO little souls would escape the nightmare and head directly into the good life. Wow.
I called Anita and told her we would be on our way to return her trap. She said she would be feeding at some of the colonies they manage, but I could just leave the trap in her driveway. She asked if I got my tuxie. I told her no and what had happened and that we had gotten a couple of kittens. She, too, was sad that we hadn’t gotten Domino. She would leave a folder of information under a watering can in her driveway for me to pick up. We would stay in touch. She told me that her organization had applied for two grants. She said if they somehow got lucky enough to be awarded one, she would see about investigating the colony I had discovered. I was to leave detailed directions and a description of Domino under the watering can when I retrieved the folder.
I moved everything out of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and moved our two scared kittens into the cabinet. That’s all we had until we could shop. Then we happily spent that afternoon traveling to Anita’s and then stopping several times on the route back to get supplies. We needed something for these babies to ride in on the way back. We needed kitten food and a litter box and flea treatment and bedding. We laughed and talked all afternoon as we drove and shopped and collected our supplies. What a way to spend a vacation day. So many wonderful things we could have been doing; and yet, we had a really good time doing just what we had to do.
Now we only needed to drive a thousand miles back home with two scared kittens and very little room in our vehicle. There would be a night in a hotel on the way back, too. That would be a load of fun. Ha. I knew I had alot of time on the way home to think about this crazy rescue life I lead. For some reason, rescuing in small numbers didn't seem like enough anymore. It's easy to get tunnel vision when you live and work in one particular area your whole life. Seeing that large feral colony in Florida had reminded me that this country is full of homeless animals. During the hours and hours of driving home I would fantasize about saving them all. Alas, when I actually got home, I would need to get in contact with my cousin's wife. It seemed like months ago when I had talked with her on the phone about a mom and two kittens she was trying to keep safe until I could get there.
See you tomorrow.