24 Hours With a Stray Cat

This certainly isn't my usual kind of post. It's not about something I made, but about something wonderful that happened that I feel is worth sharing. Here goes.

Recently, around the grounds of my apartment complex, we'd see this scrawny little long haired black cat. She'd be darting around the parked cars, slinking through the bushes, or just sitting in the grass. A tiny little thing, I thought that it couldn't have been too long ago that she was a kitten. Jeet and I each started toting around a small Ziploc baggie full of dry cat food to give to her when we saw her, but she was always too shy to come over and take it if we were too close. Tuesday evening, that changed.

We were just on our way out the door, heading to a yoga class together, when there she was, right in front of the door, meowing. The poor thing was obviously hungry. Jeet ran off to get his baggie of food from the car, and
I stayed behind. For the first time, the cat actually came up to me. I squatted down on the sidewalk, and she brushed her cheek against my hand, flopped down on the concrete, and began purring like we were old friends. We fed her as much dry food as she would eat, brought out a dish of water for her to drink from, and just sat with her as she purred, rubbed against us, and generally charmed the heck out of everyone going in and out of the building.

As we sat there on the sidewalk, we knew yoga was out of the question. This cat wanted friends, needed food, and had so much affection to give. Other residents stopped to pet her as well, offering their ideas and suggestions for local shelters. One woman believed that this cat had belonged to a former resident, and was abandoned when they left, and had survived the whole winter on her own. She, too, was one of the regular food providers for this kitty. We couldn't just leave her, so we had to think of a plan.

I sized her up. She was a little dirty (she had been rolling around on the ground in glee, after all), but otherwise looked healthy. She was extremely friendly, not at all aggressive or scared, very skinny, trusting, and, here's the kicker: she was pregnant. Leaving a stray cat to fend for itself is one thing, but a tiny pregnant kitty? Not happening. We decided to do what some might consider to be highly questionable: we brought this little stray inside our apartment for the night.

"So what are you, a dog? Big deal."
The rest of the night was pretty crazy. I gave her a bath and clipped her claws, for which she was amazingly patient and well-behaved. We set up a second litter box for her, hoping she'd use it correctly (she did!) and did our best to keep Casper, our resident fatty, away from her. He growled at her, hissed a few times, and was generally unimpressed with her desire for his friendship. I slept on the floor in the living room so I could help keep things from going too crazy, while Jeet pretty much stayed up all night emailing shelters and finding new shelters to call in the morning, all while making sure that the free spirited sweety didn't scratch the couch, jump on the counters, or get too close for Casper's comfort. As nuts as it was, it was fun, too! Kali, as we'd named her after the black-skinned Indian goddess, was just non-stop affection, cuddles, playtime, and action, with catnaps in between. As soon as I lay down, she curled up right on my chest, wanting always to be right up in my face. How can you resist that?
Little mama-to-be
Daytime brought frustration and worry on top of exhaustion. Jeet was as tenacious as ever, calling shelter after shelter, in an ever widening circle. Animal Control was out of the question, as they were so full they would just euthanize her if we turned her over. The result was always the same. They were full. Over capacity. There was a waiting list. I was getting really nervous for her. When I held my hand against her swollen belly, I could feel little baby kittens moving inside. We could not let her down, and keeping her just wasn't an option for us, even though we both grew very attached to her very quickly. We decided that if we couldn't find a place by 4 pm, we'd just have to let her outside again and try and keep feeding her, because we couldn't stay up all night again. 
Who knew Casper had such foul language?
Around 12:30, we got our wish. A wonderful shelter about an hour away called The Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter, agreed to take her as long as we could get her tested for various cat diseases beforehand. They closed at 3, and by a miracle we got an appointment with a vet less than 10 minutes away from the shelter with just enough time to get the tests done (came back negative! yay! also, 9.1 lbs, kittens and all) and rush her over to the shelter. They've got a great play room for the kitties, a nice yard for dogs, and most importantly, a nursery where Kali can give birth and nurse her kittens, who will then be placed in loving homes when they're old enough. Jeet deserves 100% of the credit for making this happen, for his can-do never-give-up attitude and stick-to-it-iveness! If any cat deserves a wonderful "forever home", it's Kali. She was literally the sweetest cat I've ever spent time with, and I already miss her. What a blessing to spend (nearly) 24 hours with a stray cat!

PSA! Adopt shelter pets, have your pets spayed or neutered, and donate to shelters if you can. Thank you!


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