Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A kitten's tale

Last night I got some bad news. Chester, one of our outside-turned-inside kittens, had died while under anesthesia while being neutered at the vets. I'll tell you his story.

You may remember this picture from my June post, 'spring pics.' These were Pepper Cat's kittens, born in early May. Four kittens, as cute as can be. We could never get near enough to pet them, but they came up with the other outside cats for feeding and the occasional bowl of fresh milk.

When the neighbor's dogs attacked our farmyard in early September, all of our outside cats disappeared for a few days. Slowly, one by one they came back: Pepper, Sally, Calico. Two out of four of Sally Cat's kittens returned. Three out of four of Pepper's kittens returned. The light orange kitten from the above photo never came back, and we still don't know what happened to him or to Sally Cat's missing kittens.

In mid-September we had a family get-together at our house. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all visiting and celebrating Graham's fifth birthday. At these occasions our farm animals get a lot of attention. People vie for the honor of collecting eggs and feeding the outside cats. My brother Bob and his wife Linda were there too. Being animal lovers of a high degree, they took an interest in our outdoor kittens.

They knew about the life of outdoor cats, and what the chances of survival are. When they were visiting, one of Pepper's kittens (the grey one in the photo) was sneezing and wheezing a lot. Bob and Linda live near Brookings, and in Brookings there is a really nice animal shelter. After a bit of serious thought, my brother and his wife decide that they would like to take the kittens to the shelter when they drive back home. They are going to keep the kittens at their house for awhile, to see if they can be 'socialized' before going to the shelter.

This is good news, but the devil is in the details. On our first attempt to catch the kittens, my brother catches the calico female. On the second attempt, my brother manages to grab the dark orange one, but decides to let go after his arm gets shredded to a bloody pulp by claws and sharp teeth. So my brother leaves with one kitten in a carrier. Over the next two days, luring them with food, I manage to corner and capture the remaing grey and orange kittens. I then drive them down to Brookings. This is the trip I mention in my September post 'uh-oh.'

So, Bob and Linda now have three new kittens, and to make an already-long story short, they successfully socialize them into playful, purring pets. And, as might be expected, they fell in love with them in the process. They name the calico Chloe, the grey Baxter, and the orange Chester. They decide to keep all of them.

Yesterday was their appointment with the vet to get neutered and declawed. Yesterday afternoon the vet called them and told them the bad news. Yesterday evening I got a phone call from my brother. Chester had been his favorite, of course.

This weekend we are having another family get-together at Bob and Linda's house, this time to celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday. Kind of a pre-celebration celebration. I'm pleased that I get to see the two remaining kittens, kittens that were born on our homestead and that are now living a very happy life in a loving home. I'll be sad to miss the little orange kitten, but I'll be happy knowing that the calico and the grey can look forward to a long, happy, contented life of an indoor cat.


Karen said...

I am so sorry about Chester. It sounds similar to what happened to your Zeus. I told Bob that he could wait for Pepper's next batch and get another kittie! He said that ten was a much nicer number than nine and he should maybe consider two more instead of just one!!

Harold Phillips said...

Oh Jo

A sad and yet strangely uplifting tale... Chester had a short life, but obviously a full one. And you tell it so well. Hope you guys find reasons to smile this weekend, even in the face of this loss!

Jo said...

Ten cats! Zounds!

Harold - good to hear from you! I must go to your website soon and hear what is going on in your active life. The actress-in-me-living-vicariously-through-you is anxious to get some stage time. Ta!