Kittens, like small children, can get into everything. And while cats, at least most of them, are extremely intelligent and practical creatures, their attraction to climbing, exploring and getting into small spaces can get them into serious trouble.
I like to tell the story of how Oz, the second dumbest cat I have ever owned, used to get his head stuck in every shopping bag or item with a handle he found. And then he would run around the house like the Tasmanian Devil.
This morning, I had a scary experience with my almost seven-month old fosters, The Roman Pride. They are part of the rescue efforts of volunteer nonprofit group, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
Teenager #1 spent the night with her dad. Teenager #2 got up early, fed the household cats and mastered the art of an over-easy egg. I apparently had fallen into a deep, cozy sleep and after several days of getting six hours of sleep, I slept from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m.
I headed to Teenager #’s bedroom after a breakfast of two eggs on a crumpet and a cup of tea, prepared by Teenager #2, and immediately knew something was wrong.
The room looked like this:
And the kittens looked like this:
And my mom instincts immediately were on alert. Headcount… 1… 2… 3… 4…
Where is Mars?
I text Teenager #1 the photos to warn her. I open the wet cat food, which isn’t necessary as they have a self-feeder.
Everyone congregates at the food bowl. Except Mars.
Teenager #1 suggests he got into the closet. That she’ll check when she gets home. But I am unsettled. Other moms will understand. I text Teenager #2 the photos. Teenager #2 comments. And I mention I can’t find Mars. She joins me. And she finds Mars lying docile in a corner.
Now, between Mars and Vesta— the two who did a residency at our local Petco— one of them has loose stools and has peed on Teenager #1’s blankets. We are starting a protocol today to decipher who needs to go to the vet. But meanwhile, I am looking for clues.
Vesta has been a little lethargic lately. Mars is the spunky one, who, often panics when being handled. He bit one of the other volunteers which is why they came home. And he’s not usually prone to biting. I wouldn’t have sent him out to Petco if that were the case. So now he’s missing. Maybe he is the sick one.
When teenager #2 tries to handle him, he doesn’t fight but he doesn’t cooperate either. He sticks his claws in the nearby cat tree. But we found him. So I relax. And teenager #2 leaves. But he’s still not joining the others for food. I open one of the coveted squeeze-up treats. Still, he stays put.
My gut says something is wrong.
Teenager #1, in her second year of wood shop, deconstructed her bunk bed and made it into a loft. On one end of what used to be the lower bunk is a bookshelf and a seat that hides a storage box.
The other side is a cat tree and some cat beds of various types.
Mars is under the cat tree in a cat bed. Between the seat and the cat area, the new soft sided carrier I got for Christmas is on the floor, open. I reach for Mars. He doesn’t move. I pull him up to my lap, the cat carrier bangs into my legs and prevents me from getting him to the destination.
Quickly, with the cat in one hand, my hand supporting his belly, I put it all together. I grab the carrier with my other hand.
I pull everything into my lap. Now this cat is silent and limp. Remember— he’s the spunky one. This is very wrong.
My fear is legitimized. Mars has somehow crawled through the handle of the soft-sided cat carrier and gotten it twisted tightly into a knot around his hips. He has soiled himself— his back legs are wet. And if you know cats, you know they will go to great lengths not to soil themselves.
Do you know that moment in any bad situation where you have to chose between calm and panic? I am thinking about all the ways poor Mars could be hurt and trying not to panic. I need to free him. I’m trying not to think about how long he has been trapped like that.
I have to swirl the bag in one hand over poor Mars to untwist the knot against his belly, again and again. I call for teen #2, verbally as I have no hands left to grab my phone and text her. She runs in. I free him. She gets more wet food. He gently jumps free of me and goes to the bowl.
A few moments later he jumps up to the water bowl and drinks slowly for a good five minutes.
And when he is done, I hug him. He doesn’t fight me. I take the carrier into the hall. Now, if you excuse me— Mars needs another hug.