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The cat is domestic only as far as suits its own ends…

— Saki (H. H. Munro)

Stanley’s Ads

First Couple of Hours

Living in a quiet, older suburb with ½ to ¾ acre lots zoned for a limited number of animals on each lot, I was out in my pajamas and housecoat picking up the two newspapers around 5:30 in the morning when I heard a kitten mewing.  The healthy sound was coming from across the street.

I couldn’t resist.  Shortly, I found myself searching through the trees and dense bushes bordering the two lots.  Following the cries, I dug through a thick, prickly bush to find a newly born black and white kitten all alone in a spot with flattened leaves and needles.  I looked around for other kittens and the mother, but saw nothing, so I picked it up to see if it was okay.  It still had a moist umbilical cord.  Everything seemed to look okay, so I put it back, thinking I just scared the mother off and she would return for it.  At the time, I wondered if I had made a mistake by picking the kitten up knowing some animals will abandon their young if there is human scent on them. 

Around 7:30, I was heading out for work when I remembered the kitten.  As I opened the car door, I paused to listen for mewing, but heard nothing.  I figured the mother had come back for him and was about to get in the car when I decided to go check the bush. The bush where I found the Scottish Fold kitten

Dressed in my blue business suit , pantyhose and heels, I carefully dug back through the bush.  As that prickly shrubbery parted, I saw that lone kitten shivering, taking long, noisy gasps of breath.  I quickly dug through to get to it.  Just as I reached it, it stopped breathing.  Snatching it up, I rubbed it to try to stimulate it and warm it up.  No breath. 

I began giving it CPR as I hurried across the street and with one hand unlocked the front door, then ran to get a towel from the linen closet.  For twenty minutes, I rubbed and breathed for the little kitten. 

After the first fifteen minutes, I found myself tearing up.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I hoped the kitten would live; I didn’t want the kitten to die in my hands.  How could I stop trying?   Those were my primary thoughts.  Other thoughts kept creeping in:  I’m late for work, I need to call; how can I call at the same time I’m trying to revive this kitten; Don didn’t want anymore cats since we’d found homes for our other cats before moving.  I’d deal with all that later, if only I could revive the kitten. 

Just as I was calculating how long he could go without CPR and if that would be enough time for me to call in to work, the kitten finally began to breathe on its own.  As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I called one of my staff to let them know what was going on and to say I’d be in shortly. 

I went around the house gathering supplies.  I had the towel.  From the hall storage and living room I grabbed a heating pad and a basket.  From the back of the bathroom cupboard, I found the old pet nursing bottle and nipple I’d saved from when I lived out on the two and a half acres scattered with farm animals.  There was no formula, so I searched the pantry and found a small can of evaporated milk.  I knew that really wasn’t adequate, but figured if the kitten lived through the day, I would stop at PetsMart on the way home from work to pick up the newborn formula kit.

I did stop long enough to fix a diluted, warmed mixture to see if the kitten would eat.  Yep.  It nursed from the bottle so, after successfully helping it urinate, I cleaned up, changed my torn pantyhose, packed up everything and we were off to work.  By that time, I knew the kitten was a male.

We arrived just in time for me to quickly explain what had happened, hook up the heating pad and settle the little critter in the Authorization Unit where my staff could keep an eye on him.  They weren’t too thrilled:  the kitten was so tiny and scrawny looking, Melissa and Angie thought I had brought in a rat.  And they weren’t too hopeful he would survive.

Every couple of hours I tended to his needs and on the way home, I did stop for the newborn kit.  That evening he got as much of the colostrum as I could get down him.  I tried to follow the instructions, but the kitten didn’t think that was as good as the bottle . . . an indication of his independence and stubbornness right off the bat now that I think back . . .  

That was the first few hours in the life, and near demise, of the kitten who came to be known as Stanley, the Scottish Fold.  April 15th, 2002 was more than tax day that year. 

But I didn’t yet know Stanley was a Scottish Fold . . .