By the time we reached the address sent to us, it was almost noon. The sun shone brightly that day, and it’s hot everywhere especially this summer, but that rather secluded strip of housing were surrounded by big trees, so along the slow wind and the serenity around, it’s kind of nice.
There was a tiny girl peeking from behind the opening of the garage in that fenceless house. I thought I’d asked her, but she ran inside before I made my first step. So I called instead.
I didn’t know who to call, really, I only know her Instagram username as I learned about her story through its messaging system. She found a box of abandoned baby kittens on her way home from campus, and with the help of her friend was caring for the babies. As her studies become increasingly demanding, she was struggling with bottle feeding six babies once every hour. Before she lost the war, especially because she has no knowledge about caring for cats, she sought help.
I really don’t need extra six babies; but looking around, the extra six babies (and their college student surrogate) really need me.
No one answered the call, but a petite young woman, who looked very similar to the one who peeked on us earlier, came from the front door with a clean box of dirty, hungry, desperate babies.
Well, at least she tried to keep the babies clean, looking at the pile of dirty and smelly boxes at the corner of the garbage.
It was brief, sort of. She came down on me with barrage of questions, out of pure curiosity about the welfare of the cats and how she managed thus far, and I answered whichever question I managed to catch.
And then, we bade farewell to each other, I picked up the babies, and she ran into the house.
But, putting on my helmet, a tiny hand tapped on Sheilla’s shoulder, and as we turned around, the girl we just saw pushed two bank notes into her hand, turned around, and went back running inside, wiping her tears.
We looked at each other – Sheilla and I. It was a little bit of a comic story we read in our teen years, but we smile regardless. There is still hope on humanity, and our respect toward the college girl only grows. She did her best for the babies, now the baton passed to us.
It was clear to us by the scream and screech of the babies all the way home, down to our living room, and as they scrambled like an army of the undead into our kitchen, that they have been on their own for so long, despite the best effort by the college student lady to catch up on their behalf.
It was unclear to us whether it was pure magic, miracle, twilight zone, or heaven when Igor started putting them together, and lay down beside them, letting them nurse on him. We are not mistaken. That cat was Igor, and as the name suggested, and the two bells he always had, is male.
The kittens fell silent for a few minutes; but failing to get what they so sorely missed (from their own mother) they went back scrambling and screaming.
Like a genie from the lamp, we got three bottles ready; but still it was unclear to us the magic of it all, when we found Penny collected the babies one after another into an empty container we reserved for them, and let them nurse from her. Penny is young, and she was spayed before she came into heat.
The kittens fell silent for longer time; thus we didn’t waste any time to start picking them up and bottle feed them, putting them back to Penny’s side as they slowly fell into slumber, for the first time feeling the warmth of a mother.
In the next days, until they start to wean and learn to eat by themselves, it takes a village. Igor, Penny, Flash, Mama Pearl, The old lady from the slum, Mama White… took turns lying on their sides and lend the babies their lives, their licks, their love.
Then comes the pang of reality. The toll of being dumped, the toll of being under nourished for so long, the toll of having to claw back into life too early, too far.
One by one the babies perished. Sickness, weakness, but the village goes on.
Like hope stayed in Pandora’s box, one remain, and Emmy is getting stronger, although slowly. She is the smallest, and weakest, and prone to all sort of sickness.She is also the loudest, the most demanding, and the most relentless of more than 25 kittens (less than 2 months) crowding our house.
But the village goes on, and so do we. Whenever Emmy chased one of us with her nasty screams, we will put down everything, pull our blendered food, and give her as much food as we want; or whatever she wants, really. From pats to hugs, to piggy back ride to cradle to the rest of the world. In the day, at night, during breaks, even when we sleep.
Tomorrow, Emmy will be six weeks old. She looks like she is still four weeks baby cat, but she has the love of the whole village, and the whole village goes on.
One evening we told the village as they finished their dinner, that the whole village has us two.
We two hope Emmy and her village has you too.