We have recently welcomed a new member to the Dragonfly Pond Farm family. His name is Toby, and though he only stood eight-or-so inches tall at the time, he managed to catch my attention from a few hundred yards away as Hans and I were driving past at fifty miles an hour. Hans was driving, and I was gazing out the window just before dark as we headed home from a visit with our son, who lives at Lake Martin, AL. Just about the last thing we needed to encounter three hours from home was a people-shy kitten to add to our already double-digit number of critters (okay, cats. We have a double-digit number of cats, and even more critters altogether).
In the split-second after I noticed his big ears and wedge-shaped head poking up from the short grass surrounding a used-car lot, I managed to scan the area and determine that there were no houses within sight; only businesses and car lots. No place for a baby kitten to be hanging around on July 3rd. I thought about the inconvenience of turning around and trying to catch the kitten. I thought about the difficulty of driving three hours with a probably-scared kitten in my lap. I thought about the chances this kitten would have of survival living in a used-car lot next to a major highway. I thought about the fear he would feel when the fireworks started booming the very next day.
“Turn around,” I said to my husband.
“We’re almost at the interstate,” he protested. (Knowing me as well as he does, he knew what was about to happen.)
“Turn around,” I said again.
“What did you see?” He slowed down and shifted to the left lane to make a U-turn. “What are we about to take home with us?”
When we pulled into the car lot, I noticed a second kitten, but I focused on the one who’d caught my attention when he stood statue-still and looked straight at me through the car window. In the gathering dusk, with no food or treats to lure him closer, I sat on a curb and called him to me. After a few minutes of hesitation on his part and courting on mine, he allowed me to pick him up. He smelled of motor oil and was so dirty he turned my fingers black. I took him to the truck and handed him to Hans through the open window. Then, I tried to woo the second kitten, who hid in the inner workings of a car and refused to come out.
So, we came home with only one of the two kittens whose mother was nowhere around. I have the feeling that she had long-since been hit by a car, and the kittens were left to fend for themselves in a non-kitten-friendly area. I hope that the other kitten was ultimately rescued by someone else, but at three hours away, it wasn’t feasible for me to go back and try to catch her the next day, or even the next week. I have learned that you can’t save everyone everywhere all the time. But I do think that as humans who give two shits, it’s our obligation to save those we can where we are with what we’ve got.
As you might expect in meant-to-be situations, Toby fit right in with the rest of the critters here. He has won-over even the most crotchety cats, he loves all the dogs, and he has the capacity to purr for hours on end if there’s a human lap available.
FYI, even though it’s September already, it’s still kitten-and-puppy season. If you notice a little wedge-shaped head crowned with big triangular ears poking up from the weeds to get your attention, please stop and help, because whether you think you’ve got the room and the time for it or not, that little critter is meant for you.