Monday, November 28, 2011

$92.48 [There are Kittens in the Office]

Okay, so yes there are kittens in the office, but I can explain.

I spent Thanksgiving with my boyfriend's family in rural Pennsylvania.  Right across the street from Kyler's parents' house is the family barn and pasture.

On Thanksgiving Day, I crossed the street with pup Lulu in tow to take a photo of the grazing cows (see above).  As I walked by the family barn, three kittens emerged and ran over to me.  Two stripes and one solid.  They rubbed against my legs, meowing and purring, crawled up my jeans and coat and played with my hair.

Kyler needed to meet the Thanksgiving kittens (obviously!), so I crossed the street to his parents' house to tell him about them.  The kittens followed me.  Abby, his parents' young lab, took chase.  One striped kitten ran to me, and the other two ran back across the street to the barn.  I carried the striped one who sought refuge in my arms back to her sisters and the barn.  She purred the whole time.

Dropping her off at the barn, I turned around and headed back to the house.  The kittens followed me across the street again.  Kyler and his step-dad helped me scare them back to the barn, right as a truck zoomed down the country road.  I got scolded for bringing barn cats to the house, and also told no, I should not feed them.  I was informed, correctly, that I am not from the country.  Also something about "you can't save every kitten."

In the last two years I've met a lot of feral cats in that barn.  Feral cats, even the tiniest of kittens, have life skills, by which I mean they run away and hide when you approach.  Even if you put down food, they wait until you walk away to come out and eat it.  I agree that you cannot save every feral kitten because they can be difficult to socialize to humans and consequently difficult to adopt out (which is why Trap-Neuter-Return is great).

The three kittens I met on Thanksgiving were domesticated.  Someone had dropped them off at the barn, which apparently happens quite often.  There were no other cats around, no momma cat, no barn cousins.  These kittens were not going to survive a winter in the barn.  They were up against too much:  predators, cars, disease, cold weather, starvation, et cetera ad infinitum.  Life is hard for a feral barn cat, but impossible for a domesticated one without life skills who will walk right up to a predator, purring the whole time.

I decided that I would take the three kittens back to Brooklyn after the holiday weekend to get hooked up with a rescue organization.  These guys would be adopted in a second in New York, no question.  They were adorable.  I informed Kyler and his parents of my plan.  I recall some more about "you can't save every kitten."

The next morning, on Black Friday, I got up early and went out with the dogs.  Across the street, a few of the cows had escaped through a broken part of the fence and were meandering about on the gravel near the barn.  Roxy, Kyler's parents' giant red golden retriever, hates that.  She ran across the street to bark at the cows.

Then she went into the barn.

What happened next is a bad dream.

Roxy killed one of the kittens.  Then she carried its body around in her mouth.

I was horrified, traumatized, inconsolable.  I am not from the country and in that moment did not belong in the country, and those two surviving kittens did not belong in that barn.  So we scooped Stripes and Solids and took them home, back to Brooklyn.  They made muffins on our shirts during the ride.

So now, after some violence and emotional turbulence, we have two kittens in the office.   And they're being adopted, together, by our dear friends and former roommates, Charlotte and Zero.  Charlotte is flying in from Chicago this weekend to pick them up.*

It is true.  You cannot save every kitten, but I'm really glad we saved these two.  Now we get to see them grow up.**

*  A big thanks to (1) Vinegar Hill Veterinary Group for seeing the kittens on such short notice (and for just generally being amazing) and (2) the folks at Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition for being so responsive, offering to help us adopt out the kittens using their network and resources, and letting us use their rescue discount for vet care.

**  First round of vaccines and deworming, $70.66; first week supplies, $14.88; the kittens thinking Betelgeuse is their mom, priceless.


  1. My cousin and I tried to save kittens over Thanksgiving, too! Unfortunately, our SPCA has stopped accepting cats because there are just too many there. We weren't very successful :(

  2. What a bummer. If we had tried to drop these kittens off at a shelter, I think we would have been met with the same response. Part of our rescue success was that we could foster them until they got adopted. Turns out the office makes the perfect kitten room.

  3. I'm so incredibly happy they're staying in the family. They're so special, and you went through a lot to save them. I can't believe the journey they've taken to end up sleeping side by side on my bed right now. They're very fortunate, and so am I.

  4. Charlotte, I am SO ELATED/RELIEVED/EVERY EMOTION POSSIBLE that the kittens are with you and Zero now. I can't wait to see them grow up!

  5. Aww, aren't you an incredible and sweet person! These cats are so lovely! It is so sweet of you to adopt them and turn your office into their home. I can almost hear them purring over here.