Just when you least expect it …



As we were leaving the house one day, we got a telephone call from the veterinarian who cares for our dog.  We had mentioned to her that we might be interested in fostering orphan kittens at some future time, however the vet was calling to ask if we would be interested in adopting a kitten that her office had just received from the animal shelter.  The kitten had a problem, she told us, he had a nerve-damaged paw which might have to be amputated if the kitten didn’t recover the use of it soon.  We looked at each other and without a word of discussion agreed that we would stop by the vet’s office to “consider” adopting the kitten.

When the little guy was brought out he limped right up to us as well as his three usable paws would hold him, announced “Meow!” and insisted on climbing up into our arms. It was obvious that he had chosen us, so we couldn’t say no.

The veterinarian told us that the entire staff was in love with the kitten and that one of her young assistants had already named him “Skip.”  Trying not to think of the expense of amputation, we said we would happily adopt Skip, and that we’d stop to pick him up on our return trip from town.

Life is full of surprises.  On the way to town, as we were driving across a busy four-lane bridge over the lake, suddenly Bran said, “Oh my god!  That’s a kitten…!”  She had spotted a kitten, paralyzed with terror,  huddled against the concrete bridge rail as cars zoomed by on the busy highway not three feet away.

We turned our car around on the other side of the bridge, drove back and parked.  We hailed a passing police car to turn on his lights to run cover for us and then made our way out onto the bridge on the narrow curb.  As we reached the kitten she panicked and tried to dive down one of the storm drain holes which would have dropped her fifty feet into the lake.  If that had happened, there would have been nothing we could have done except watch her drown. But Bran is experienced in animal rescue and she was able to catch the kitten and pull her back up out of the drain.

We drove back to our veterinarian’s office with the kitten huddled in Bran’s arms. The kitten was cold and frightened, and had several lacerations on her face. We surmised that someone had tried to throw her off the bridge from a moving car, but had missed and hit the concrete bridge rail instead.

Our veterinarian examined her.  Besides being terrified, malnourished and bruised, the vet said what the poor little girl needed was loving care. We named the kitten Brodie after the man alleged to have survived a jump from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brodie and Skip now live with us, or rather we live with them.  Skip’s front leg did indeed have to be amputated but he gets along just fine with three legs. It turns out that he’s probably a Maine Coon Cat, very large, with fluffy fur and huge feet.

In the photos, you can see that little Skip is the baby and was much smaller than Brodie. Even though he’s bigger than Brodie now, she’s still the boss. They were best friends from the start and now play and chase and sleep together. Brodie is sleek and beautiful and knows she’s royalty while Skip is the Court Jester.

Putting up with all of their shenanigans with amazing equanimity is our very special shelter dog, Czar, a Collie-Shepard mix with abundant patience for hyperactive kittens.

If you come to visit, don’t wear dark-colored nice clothing, and do expect to have to move a dog or cat from the most comfortable chair before you can sit down. And if you stay overnight in the guest room expect to be visited by cats who like to play “pounce the toes under the covers.”

If you’re thinking about adding a life-long friend to your home, please adopt from a shelter. We’ve never regretted adopting three of society’s cast offs, they’ve enriched our lives and we feel privileged to have them. All of our pets have been altered of course, and all three are vaccinated and micro-chipped. As mentioned in the earlier post, millions of dogs and cats, puppies and kittens are killed in shelters in the United States.  Shelters wish they could be no-kill, but few shelters have the budget to provide for the number of abandoned animals that keep coming.  Fully 25% of those killed are “pure breeds” and more than 87% are younger than three years old. You’ll never be sorry for saving a life and for knowing that you’re part of the solution and not a part of the problem of dog and cat over-population.

At the top of this entry, I mentioned we were considering being foster parents for orphaned kittens (and puppies). If you’re not sure about the animal you wish to adopt, or if you just happen to love puppies and kittens the way we do, fostering can be very satisfying and just plain fun. Call your local shelter and ask if they have a foster program. Many shelters send orphans home with foster families to be loved and fed and socialized. Families with kids are often good at fostering because the children give the animals all the play and attention they need, and its a good way of teaching kids responsibility for pets. At a pre-determined age or state of health, the foster family brings the orphan pets back to be put up for adoption.  Kittens and puppies who have been in foster homes are almost always adopted because they are happy and know that they are loved, and they’re ready to go into a new home. Its a win-win situation for everyone involved.

— Bran Muffin and Gray Fox