Did I wake up that morning thinking I would leave for work and come home with a kitten?
And did I think my mother, who repeatedly declared, often unprovoked, that she would not tolerate another cat in her house, would be responsible for said kitten’s arrival to our home?
On Monday, June 2nd of 2008, my mother called me and said a friend of hers had a kitten under her porch and was unable to lure it out. I went down to this person’s house, and after much "here kitty kitty"ing, I heard this feeble, distant "miiiao." I meowed, it meowed, I meowed, it meowed until finally I could see it in the shadows, where there was a tear in the porch’s lattice. Had it been a bigger cat, I wouldn’t have been so desperate to capture it immediately, as it would have been more likely to be fending for itself in the meantime. But the kitten I saw was the size of an average guinea pig, with round and bewildered eyes, and it was horrified at the thought of the world beyond the shadows of the porch. The home owner first noticed it three days prior to my finding it, so it was likely starving and dehydrating.
I tried luring it out with a can of wet cat food, but it scurried off into the shadows. I left the food for it to find on its own, and went to work.
I spent the afternoon at work calling local shelters in my free time, trying to find someone who would loan me a humane kitten trap, thinking it could possibly take days to get this little kitty out from beneath this porch.
I left work early and returned to the scene to find, much to my delight, the food had been half-eaten. It was a can of adult food since that’s all I had in the house. The kitten recognized me and came out of the shadows just far enough to greet me. I suppose I’d built its trust by leaving food. It came fairly close to me, but flinched and scurried off whenever I stuck my finger out for it to sniff. So I’d walk to the end of the driveway and she would peer out to see where I was going. This back and forth went on for a while. Finally I decided another can of food might do the trick. I went to the grocery store (and drove like a madwoman, almost getting into an accident when I went around someone in a one-lane road for driving like grandpa joe), and returned with a can of food.
This time, the kitten didn’t eat the food. It came out into the sunlight to sniff me! Gently but quickly I nudged her into the carrier. She didn’t struggle or fuss, but she looked scared. I took her to the vet and got her all checked out.
Her initial checkup went well. They said her temperature was a bit low, and she was underfed, but she had been living under a porch after all. She was estimated to be eight weeks old and weighed 15 ounces.
Considering her apprehension to come to me, she was quite the lap cat. She wandered around her new digs in the basement (we had an older cat and a dog, and didn’t want to introduce them until we knew Mochi would be healthy and also strong enough) but mostly she just wanted to sit in our laps. If we set her on the floor, she would hop up into the nearest lap again. She had a hard time climbing and her walk was a bit wobbly, but I blamed it on dehydration and malnourishment and figured she would be fine after a couple days of food and water.
The next morning, she seemed the same as the day before, but she had used the litter box. She cried until I let her out of the crate so she could climb into my lap. Once she was in either my lap or my mom’s lap, she was content. She even purred, and I think once she tried to knead me (but it came out a little like digging instead, because maybe she wasn’t sure how). Her food and water were untouched. I left her some new food and left the water there for her, and I went to work.
I came home to find her lying in her litter box, crying, unable to get out. I immediately rushed her to the vet, who pointed out that she had a strange deformity. Rather than a normal rounded ribcage, her ribs were shaped like a V.. He offered to send her to a veterinary hospital that would put her down, but I could still see the life in her. She was wriggling around and trying to get up now that the vet had injected some water into her, and I thought I could take her home and syringe-feed her back to health.
I brought her back home and held her. A couple of times I set her on the ground to see what she would do, and she kept climbing back into my lap, although she was struggling really hard with it. She was up and down for a while, but by later that night I knew I was going to lose her. I couldn’t even hold her because she was in so much pain, and so limp I worried I would break her if I even moved the slightest bit.
She passed away on June 3rd, around 10 PM, lying on a hot water bottle and a blanket, just a few inches away from me.
All she wanted in the world was to be loved and held, and I really hope I at least fulfilled that wish for her.
RIP, sweet girl.