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During Kitten Season, my In bin fills up quickly with pleas from people who have found abandoned kittens and are confused as to what to do next. They find me through one of my websites www.kitten-rescue.com. Years ago, I vowed that I would answer every email. No kitten would be left behind.
In 2011, an email arrived at my home. My reply along with the actions of a young girl in India altered the fate of a days-old black kitten left stranded on the streets. As emails flowed between the two of us; myths would be shattered, Elders mystified as a young girl stands by her belief; Fate doesn’t mean turning a blind eye.
Leaning over the monitor, I read: 1-2 days old abandoned kitten in street. Please reply ASAP.
“My parents are not allowing me to bring it into our home. I’ve put him a box with a thin cloth. Feeding him whenever is mooing (after 1-2 hours) I’m afraid to hold it, instead of belly rubbing, I’m rubbing its lower back after feeding is that okay? It crawls but hind legs are not working. Approximately how much milk does it need every time? Please respond ASAP...”
Time to get to work.
Meanwhile, 7,729 air-miles away…
At 12:30 in the afternoon. Jigyasa heard “mooing.”. She noticed a black kitten in the road. Lying on its belly, hind legs flat, it was trying to move forward by using its front feet. With the streets empty, Jigyasa picked up the phone and called her parents for advice. Her Dad told her “Not to worry, just do your work.” Her mom’s contribution, “Don’t pay attention, they die every year even if we put in efforts.” Concerned, Jigyasa kept watching the kitten. When people started gathering about it, she hurried outside.
“Please not touch the kitten.” She implored. She comforted those who worried about the state of the kitten. It didn’t move. The ears were flat, tail tucked low and his face looked swollen but from what? After a bit, the Queen came near the kitten sniffing. Nervous from all the people the Queen fled. Trying to follow, the exhausted kitten only made it as far as a patch of grass. Jigyasa fetched a cardboard box to offer shade.
When her parents got home, her Dad scolded her for being distracted from chores. Her parents concerned told her, no kitten had ever survived very long when the family tried to care for them. Jigyasa explained in a later email;
“I called my cousin and asked what to do? He has many pets. He told me to feed kitten using a dropper. I went to chemist shop and got a dropper. With an old cloth, I tried to put drops over its mouth but I didn’t’ know how to do it, drops fell over its head and nose only. After a few minutes I was able to feed him a little.”
The crowd challenged Jigyasa during these feeding times: “Why are you feeding him? All because you want to pet him? What? You don’t want to pet him? Then why are you wasting your time? It’s gonna die my child. Don’t waste your time on it!”
“In my heart I was prepared for his death. I told the elders that we were taught in primary classes to help other creatures. But when time comes few do. They said efforts aren’t done where there is little hope and this one is very tiny. I told that I can’t let it die miserably. I know these kittens die a lot here but what’s bad in putting some efforts? I was afraid to handle it and needed some help. I asked few people passing by if they knew how to hold it? Or if they can hold it for me or just feed it? They quickly slipped away saying, ‘No, no we’re also like you. We don’t handle any kitten.’
“No one would help me.”
I wrote to her instructing her on the importance of keeping this kitten warm and safe. After receiving my email Jigyasa hurried outside with supplies. On the bottom of a shoebox, she placed newspaper and a warm cloth. Poking two large air holes in the lid, Jigyasa used the lid to gently push the kitten inside. “I was afraid of getting scratched.” Before going back in the house, she made certain the box was in plain sight from her window. Two large rocks anchored the box.
Two slum girls trying to steal the kitten caused such a commotion that Jigyasa raced outside. She got in their face and told them to leave! She ran to the chemist shop for a syringe to help feed the kitten. Returning, she noticed a stray dog near the box. Shooing him away and now afraid for this kitten, she placed the box nearer to her home.
Back on the internet she sent off a quick email to me. The time was 6:00 p.m. and it was mooing. Knowing that what I was asking her to do- feed the kitten every two hours would anger her parents, I wrote carefully that this kitten needed to be fed. Jigyasa recalls:
“People were stopping. Most had negative comments. But I smiled, saying I know they don’t survive but I can’t leave him on street in cold to die. What’s wrong in doing efforts? Nobody was positive that it’ll survive.”
I emailed back,” Rub the belly after eating.” Following my instructions, Jigyasa was surprised when the kitten peed.
Jigyasa wrote; I remembered a momma mouse. “The momma chews and tears papers and cloths in tiny pieces to make warm bedding.” She took newspaper and tore it off into small pieces lining the bottom of the box. Then she covered the box up and went back in the house.
The kitten slept for 3 hours. When Jigyasa heard it moo, she fed it. Suddenly, the Queen appeared! Jigyasa placed the box with its lid open. Her parents told her to go to bed. They would check on the kitten in the morning. When her dad got up at 4:00 a.m. for his daily walk, she was already awake.
“I couldn’t sleep that night. I heard him mooing, its momma made weird sounds twice. She was at our home for whole night. We could hear bangs and ruffling sounds during night. I checked on him, fed him and left to get some sleep. At about 8am I fed him again. I showed mom your emails.
Jigyasa kept sending emails to me. The kitten was responding to her care.” He looked like some black tiny ball of wool/fur. He was moving freely around the box now.”
Taking a sock, she stuffed it with old rags and placed it with him in the box. He slept. At 4 p.m. she took him back to the house. “It wasn’t mooing.” She placed the sock by his side, covering him with wool. At seven o’clock, he mooed. She fed him and rubbed his belly. Then he started mooing. He wanted to jump out of the box.” Excitedly, she called her mom to come and see the kitten. “Mom was surprised.”
She wanted him to sleep but the kitten had other ideas. She wrote: “With delight I watched. He crawled out of the box. Weakly, he started walking unsteadily across the floor.“He was walking, mooing and looking around. He started running towards corners and gaps. He was mooing in high pitch.”
Suddenly the Queen showed up at the gate. The kitten cried loudly. The Queen stood on her hind legs trying to push open the gate. It wouldn’t budge. There were people on the street but the Queen didn’t care.
Jigyasa talked to the Queen and told her to get aside and let her open the gate. The kitten fell down the stairs trying to get to mom. Jigyasa placed the kitten back into the box. Placing the box by the gate, she removed the lid. He stood on his hind legs, his forelegs holding the top of the box. “He was mooing loudly.” She left the gate open just a bit. Mom cat appeared, snatched the kitten in her mouth and ran away.
Jigyasa’s joyful, final email to me: “Thank god this happened. Mom and dad were happy now. Three myths had been cleared:
In re-reading her emails, I see where Jigyasa while caring for him forms a protective attachment to him; understanding, every life is precious. Abandoned on the streets, this kitten wasn’t truly alone. He had Jigyasa at every step.