(This is a long post. I hope you will read to the end.)
FRIENDS!!! We got it!!! We got the third kitten!!!
Here’s what happened. On Monday, Younger Daughter was free for a couple of hours and was visiting at my house. I told her that Husband and I were about to go set the trap. Of course she wanted to go along. As we drove the 45 minutes to the location, we talked about how this was the beginning of the THIRD week of trapping. We got the first kitten (Truly) on the first night of trapping. We got the second kitten (Autumn) only four days into our trapping spree. We wondered if the third little kitten we had seen that very first night was even still alive. As we talked, we discussed a plan for going forward. I had spent $200 so far on gasoline. I couldn’t keep doing it. And the time it was taking out of each and every day was making for much longer work days. I would have to cut back, but I couldn’t stop altogether. Not yet. I told Husband and Younger Daughter that I would start trapping twice a week. Deep in my heart, I was pretty sure I would never see that third kitten. I had been leaving food, but it was uneaten. (I was surprised that even the possum we caught one night wasn’t eating the food.) The kitten had to literally be slowly starving to death. Unless of course, it no longer existed. . . .
We kept talking about our little mystery kitten. No one had ever seen it up close. The night before Truly was trapped, Older Daughter had seen her clearly - a little tuxedo. A few days before Autumn was trapped, Younger Daughter and I had seen her in the weeds beside the road - a calico. Was this third kitten a tuxedo, too? a calico? Was it a boy or a girl? Was it a littermate? or a son or daughter of Autumn? What would we name this little one if we ever did get our hands on him or her? We decided that if it was a girl, we would name her Ivy. Younger Daughter and I both have poison ivy as a result of our days trapping in the wild blue yonder. (Younger Daughter’s poison ivy got REALLY bad.) If the kitten was a boy, we would name him Shiloh because the last leg of our trip into the remote wilderness was via an old country road called Shiloh Road. But we more than likely would NOT be naming the third kitten. I couldn’t imagine us ever finding it now.
Only a couple of days before, I received a notification of an e-check for $100 from Julie H. It was for gasoline. With a giant smile on my face, I knew that this would carry me through a few more trips. If I went to twice a week, I could keep going up into October. But every day that went by was another day of barely surviving for one little kitten all alone. (Julie ~ THANK YOU.)
To get to the area where we trapped, there is a concrete bridge over a big creek, then a hard left just after the bridge. You can see up the road quite a ways once you turn. We made that left turn and like dozens of times before, I started straining to see way up the road. Immediately, I sucked in my breath. NO! It couldn’t be. There on the side of the road about fifty yards away was a black & white kitten. We all held our breath as Husband slowly put on the brakes. My mind was clouded with panic. Oh, my gosh we couldn’t lose it now. Everybody stay calm. OK. Think. It was only seconds but I finally said aloud - Stop here and let’s walk the trap up there. If we scare it completely away, it might not come back to this area. We all three got out of the vehicle. We were doing things in silence. Close the vehicle doors - quietly. Get the trap out of the back - quietly. Slowly start walking in that direction - quietly. I popped open the can of food and dug out a spoonful for the trap - quietly. We were whispering about where exactly to set the trap. We wouldn’t set it in a hidden place and leave this time. We would set it and wait. But just then Younger Daughter saw the kitten. She froze solid and pointed just to her left into the deep grass. Husband backed away in one direction and I backed away in the other. Slowly, Younger Daughter stepped backwards. We quietly made our way back to the vehicle. We could see the trap from there but good grief - in our haste, we’d left it right on the edge of the road. Now this is a deserted area with little traffic, but this trap was sitting right on the road. We realized it still needed to be off in the grass. Back to the trap. Kitten nowhere to be seen. We moved the trap into the deep grass and walked away.
We sat in near silence in my vehicle with the windows rolled down. I could feel a joy rising up in my chest that was almost uncontainable. The kitten was alive. We could no longer see the trap, so we started whispering about when and how to check. Younger Daughter said it was too soon and to just be patient. Husband said we could drive by - that shouldn’t scare the kitten since it had heard cars before. I asked if we would hear the trap trip from this distance. Husband said no. And we sat. Younger Daughter whispered that if it had run away, we could set the trap farther off the road and check late tonight. But I thought I heard something. I cocked my head and said to my family - I think I just heard the trap door slam. I couldn’t stand it. I got out and started VERY quietly walking towards the trap. I couldn’t see and couldn’t see and then I saw the corner of the trap showing through the weeds. Two more steps and I could see in. OH MY GOSH THERE IT WAS. A little black & white kitten was sitting in that trap. It was identical in size to Truly. I couldn’t believe it. I turned and threw both of my arms in the air. Husband and Younger Daughter let out a cheer and headed my way.
We loaded our little catch, trap and all, into the vehicle and we were on our way. Home. It was over. There was SUCH relief. And so much joy I couldn’t express it. I kept laughing out loud, and I said over and over - We got it. I can’t believe we got it. I had as much as given up. This is amazing. It’s like a miracle that we got this one.
When we got home we set the trap down in the bathroom floor to see what Truly and Autumn would do. Truly didn’t seem to be terribly interested, but Autumn came right over. We opened the end of the trap and our new addition stood up to walk out. I quickly checked to see if we had an Ivy or a Shiloh. Shiloh it was. And then I saw it. His back left leg hung limp. He hopped immediately to a food bowl and started inhaling kitten chow. (He was skeleton skinny.) Autumn started sniffing all over him. He bumped noses with her and went right back to eating. I stared at the leg. It was broken. I couldn’t tell what else was going on, but there seemed to be something wrong with his hips, too. Autumn wouldn’t leave him alone and then finally, he stopped eating and seemed to take notice of his surroundings. He bumped noses with Autumn again and then he rubbed his face on hers, over and over. I think all of you were right. Autumn is mom to Truly and Shiloh.
Under different circumstances, seeing that broken leg and knowing what it would cost to fix it would have deflated me. But my joy was even greater now. Imagine what this baby had been going through out there. He was ALL alone. He was starving. And he was trying to survive with a broken leg or hips.
It was too late to call the clinic. I called first thing Tuesday morning and they got me right in. Dr. S showed me the X-ray. Shiloh’s leg was broken in the knee joint. Dr. S said his injury was extremely painful because the upper leg bone had rotated in one direction and the lower leg bone had rotated in the opposite direction. In addition, there were fractures in the hips but nothing could be done about those. There were too many blood vessels there to do any type of surgery. She said those would heal on their own. There was also a growth plate involved, so the leg might be shorter than the others when Shiloh reached full size. The leg break was a difficult one, but it could be fixed. I asked how soon could it be done. She said their surgeon was just finishing a surgery, and Shiloh could be next because of the extreme nature of the injury and the pain he was in. Poor little Shiloh hadn’t even had the time yet to learn that I loved him. But I kissed him on the head and told him I’d be back. He was finally on his way to comfort.
I picked Shiloh up from the clinic yesterday. He has to have VERY restricted movement for a couple of weeks, so I set him up in a soft crate in the bathroom so that he can see his family and they can see him.
I have a Chip-In at the top of my sidebar. You all know that I will ask for homes in a heartbeat. But I don’t like to ask for money. However, Andrea’s FUNdraiser money was to help me with the recent neuters, the spays to come, the series of kitten vaccinations for the NINE kittens who have come here over the last four months, and food and kitty litter. Some of my dear friends encouraged me to set up the Chip-In. Shiloh’s surgery was $400.
I am still today floating on a cloud of joy that Shiloh is with us, with his family, and no longer suffering. I hope this makes your day like it’s been making mine.