by Mark Antony Rossi
I love cats. So much that if I were in the Pharaoh’s court during the glory of ancient Egypt I would have hidden the cats to protect them from the priests who were required to kill and mummify them for the journey into the afterlife. If the Pharaoh or other high-ranking members of the court died — the cats die too.
I love cats. So much that the family regularly fosters abandoned kittens until they reach eight weeks old and ready for adoption. Recently, we fostered a mother cat and her three kittens. This experience was drastically different than the entire lot of kittens we fostered in the past two years.
The mother cat was barely an adult, severely malnourished and two of her three kittens had nipple feeding issues.
One by one despite all my efforts which included kitten formula bottle-feeding eight times a day, antibiotics, dewormer, electrolyte replacement, and body massages the kittens died in my hands. The mother would howl most of the night while frantically searching for her children.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted but the mother cat was gaining weight and her sole surviving kitten grew slightly stronger every day. Unless I imagined it I could swear the mother cat appeared to be much more attentive to her remaining kitten. She cleaned it and carried it around everything she visited. Once I saw the mother use her cat box but first dropped off her kitten outside. She stared at her baby while in the box.
Maybe I was reading too much into the situation but the mother cat seemed to triple its efforts to keep its last baby alive. She had a look of seriousness in her once playful face. For the first time, mother cat became defensive when I held the kitten. Mother cat’s immature body gave birth to a premature litter of three. Each kitten had neurological issues that hampered its feeding and growth.
Love brought us from the brink. A stubborn force that refuses to let death have its way. It’s a forward motion against the tide of grief that threatens to steal even the slightest of hope. Baby Baby, as we like to call that kitten, turned the living curve. This imbalanced black ball of underdevelopment opened its eyes wide and could see a better day. And all I could see was work and worry fade as Baby Baby started playing with a toy I once thought would have to be returned to the store. Untouched.
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