Friday 13th July. For some, an inauspicious date, but for Dusty the kitten a lucky day indeed.
The day previously Nell and Mr L had seen a cat with a litter of kittens at La Petite Ferrière, a house that we pass on or daily dog walk. It is a holiday home, not often occupied.
We were out walking with Nell on the Friday and on the road leading down towards La Petite Ferrière we saw several kittens. They scarpered, mostly. We did manage to catch a good view of one black kitten, slower than than most of them but there was one little tabby that just set itself down, curled its tail about its feet and looked up at us through gummy, sticky eyes. There was no sign of Mum.
It was very thin and very small and runty, with a head way out of proportion to its body. I picked it up and it weighed next to nothing at all. It was dehydrated and obviously very weak. One eye was stuck shut and the other covered in a thick goo. Things did not look good for the poor wee mite.
“It’s going to die” I said, giving Mr L my best Hard Stare. He said “I know“. He also said, we couldn’t take it in because we have just adopted Cat. Not only that but we have just bought a new motorhome and we can’t possibly go on the road with two cats and a dog in a small Hymer… I suggested that we try and save it and that there are loads of rescue organisations about and we would find somebody to rescue it.
Thus, I turned around, carrying my pathetic bundle and walked the best part of two kilometres home, worrying all the way how it would manage in that fierce heat. On my way I stopped at a neighbour’s house as I knew that they volunteered at a local animal charity. I hoped they might know of somebody who would rescue the kit. They didn’t but said that they would try to find somebody. It also transpired that they had seen the kitten when out walking, but left it. So had another neighbour. Maybe we are the daft ones but we really could not have done that, it just would not have survived.
When we arrived home, I fed the kit some of Cat’s food and then bathed its eyes until both were open. I had purchased in recent days a cat tray and litter. (We were intending to find out if Cat is properly domesticated and if we might consider taking her travelling.) So I filled the tray and put it down and, blow me, the kitten duly made use of it.
Then it climbed onto my lap and went to sleep.
Now, here’s the thing. Everybody around here says that the mum and litter are ferals. We disagree. I have known ferals. I carried that kit almost 2k home and it struggled to get down just the once. It went straight to a litter tray and used it. It understands Human company and seeks it out. That is in no way feral behaviour. No, this litter was dumped.
I hope and trust that Mum had the skills to survive and invested in the care of her babies. This one she had obviously rejected as unlikely to thrive, it was but half the size of the others.
We think he is a boy and he has been named Dusty. This is a good non-gender name if it turns out that we are wrong in our sexing efforts…
After three weeks with us (none of the rescuers could take him, of course, all full up – it’s kitten season – Dusty is doing well, growing fast and clapping on weight. We obtained special milk powder from the vet and I believe that helped him to catch up. When we weighed him last week in order to get the right worming dosage, he had already reached a kilo in weight! A very different cat to the one that I brought home in my arms.
Strong and sturdy, playful and affectionate. He is certainly going to make it. Dusty has already been out in the Hymer, for two nights away in Adriers. He has a backpack pet carrier so that he can go walking with us and not be left in a hot van. Friday 13th was, I think a very lucky day for this wee chap. Perhaps we should have named him Lucky.
Things are not going well with Cat, who has been refusing to enter the house due to Eau de Chat Étrange. Today, as I write this, I am able to note that Cat has been in the house, growled a lot, and asked plaintively to leave. Getting these two together in the confines of a 6 metre long motorhome is going to be challenging.