Last week, on Wednesday, there was an “occurrence” here that was initially horrifying. My dogs had let me know that something was happening in the area between my house and the “shelter area.” I was creeping down the gravel walkway trying to discover if a rabbit or some other little creature was in the blackberry bushes. What I discovered instead was one of my Winnie’s Wishers sitting underneath the front step to the cathouse. I was frozen there staring at this tabby face with my mind racing. Only a few seconds went by, but it was plenty of time for me to flash through the pictures of full-on calamity. If one cat was out, they could all be out. I went nearly dizzy thinking about all of these Winnie’s Wishers having scattered into the dense West Woods.
Frozen there, I stared at the cat under the step. It’s an enclosed wooden step, so quite dark under there even though it was a bright sunny day. The face was looking up at me but was hard to see as my eyes tried to adjust to the dark area.
My brain finally told me to squat down and call to whoever this was. Even though a lot of my Winnie’s Wishers are easily spooked, I had to hope this one would just come to me. The barking of the dogs had to be scaring him/her. I was emerging from the shock and beginning to devise a plan while trying to identify which of my tabbies this was. I bent down and said my first Kitty, Kitty. Just in the moment when I was questioning the identity of this hard-to-see-under-the-dark-step cat, it turned to bolt away from me. And there was the second wave of shock. NO TAIL. Wait. WHAT?! There are no tabby bobtail Winnie’s Wishers. WHO WAS THIS?!
Now a new flood of thoughts poured all over me. There was no tail. This was NOT a Winnie’s Wisher. Thoughts were competing with each other. So I haven’t lost a cathouse full of kitties, long gone into the deep West Woods. Relief. But here’s a cat. SERIOUSLY??? Under the front step of my CATHOUSE??? What are the chances that a cat would COME TO THE FRONT DOOR OF MY WINNIE’S WISH SHELTER?!? This was what the dogs saw. They certainly aren’t used to seeing a cat scooting around outside. Bobtail. Crazy. Think.
I needed to set the trap. It was all the way at my house. I took off running, grabbed the trap and some canned food and frantically started trying to figure out where to set it. Well, I’ll just set it here on the WW Walkway. Yeah. Right here facing the step. Then I raced into the kennel and out the side door. I could creep around to the back side of the kennel. There was a space within the perimeter fence where I could see under the cathouse. I shot around there and dropped to my stomach on the rocky ground. Darn. I couldn’t see the trap from this angle after all. I could see the entire area under the cathouse but not past that step to the trap. But then, just as my eyes adjusted to the darkness under the cathouse, I thought I saw fur. Crawling slowly under that building, as low to the ground as it could get, was a skinny tabby bobtail kitten! It was an older kitten, probably three or four months old. I didn’t breathe. My heart was pounding so loudly that I feared I was sending vibrations through the ground. Turn around little guy. Go towards the trap. Of course, I didn’t say that out loud. I held my body stone still, lying there in the rocks, trying to will that kitty back in the direction of my trap. Instead, it kept creeping until it got to the edge of its cover and then it shot like a bullet across the grass and straight into the West Woods.
I tried not to feel defeated. I jumped up, back around the kennel and over to the trap. Picked it up and as quietly and softly as I could – set the trap in a small mowed area right at the edge of the woods. Now all I could do was wait and hope.
All morning I checked that trap. Trying to convince myself that “a watched pot never boils”, I took myself to my house and sat at my desk to do some paperwork. I kept drifting back to that moment when I realized this was a stray cat. When I was running to the house for my trap, every inch of skin on my body “goose-bumped”. Seriously?! A stray bobtail kitten sitting under the front step to the cathouse?! Over the years there had been numerous rescues that were strange and unusual to the point of HAVING to accept that they were meant to be. But this . . . This HAD to be the most unbelievable of all. I live in the middle of nowhere. There are dogs in my yard, dogs in the kennel – enough barking to keep any cat from entering such territory. There had been a couple of cats show up in our driveway. But that is quite a distance from any dog area, AND they came late at night when all was quiet. Both were adult intact males, straying through no doubt while looking for unspayed females. The closest thing to this cathouse event was when Evers was just suddenly in my yard – just lying there, immobilized, like he’d been dropped there from above. But now I had a skinny older kitten SITTING UNDER THE CATHOUSE STEP. Unbelievable.
I had to get this kitten. I had no idea how it had managed to survive this long on its own. I couldn’t imagine where it had come from but it must have been straying over a long distance. It didn’t matter that I am over my maximum number in the cathouse. If there was EVER a cat who was meant to be here, it was this one! No way would I look Fate in the eye and suggest that there had been some kind of mistake. This baby crouched at the front door of Help.
I made myself eat lunch before going back to check the trap again. I strained to see into that trap as I approached the heavily shaded area next to the West Woods. And there it was. I had it. I could feel the relief. I raised an imaginary glass in a toast of gratitude. And then I walked over to meet the newest Winnie’s Wisher.
It was immediately noticeable that something was wrong with his right eye. (He is blind in that eye, but there was also a serious ulcer on the eyeball, now being treated with prescription eye drops.) I set him up in a cage in the kitten room. He did a lot of hissing and would not let me touch him. When I stepped away, the first thing he did was start eating. Imagine a three or four month old baby - skinny, alone, with a serious eye injury - trying to survive on his own. How grateful I am to have him.
His name is Kismet. That is the word I didn’t want to mention yesterday because it would have given away the ending of the story. Kismet means fate or fortune. No doubt this little Kizzie was meant to be here.
Have a great weekend.