It happened as I was leaving work at Johnny’s Selected Seeds last night…. I was glad to be done with the phones and happy to be free of the cubicle for the day, laden with my canvas mail-sack filled with my books and notes, and carrying a 6-pack of tomato plants and another of pepper plants (the company gifts each of it’s employees plants every year). Walking across the broad parking lot I thought nothing of it as a Jeep Cherokee drove past.
The vehicle pulled up at the far side of the lot alongside the shrubby undergrowth of the forest that borders one side of the Huhtamaki parking lot that Johnny’s shares. At that time of day the parking lot was largely empty, so it was an odd place for someone to park. Lost in thought I wasn’t really paying attention to the blonde woman who got out of the Jeep and went around the vehicle to the woods. Maybe she really needed to pee?
But just a quickly as she’d gotten out of the vehicle she was jumping back into it with a glance in my direction. I had a sinking suspicion, and as the Jeep sped back past me toward the exit I could hear the pitiful cries of a kitten and my guess was confirmed.
Horrified I raced across the parking lot─my bag and plants flopping─and I carelessly dumped them on the ground at the spot where I’d seen the woman in the Jeep. I could hear the kitten crying and moving the plant growth aside I found her crouched in fear upon the cold damp earthen floor of the forest. I reached down and picked up the kitten, but shock and fear propelled the creature and she chomped down on my finger with those sharp baby teeth and twisted out of my grasp.
In fear for it’s life the kitten scurried away deeper into the forest, seeking cover under the fallen brush and branches. I went after it knowing that if I turned and left, the kitten would surely suffer a worse fate. The brambles tore at me and the uneven ground wrenched my bad ankle, the kitten cried and I was bleeding like a stuck pig from my finger, but eventually I managed to catch the terrified animal, and this time─though she scratched at me and wailed loudly as I made my way back out of the forest to the place where I’d left my things─I did not let go.
Outraged that anyone could so callously abandon a baby that way I sat in my car, using my shirt to stem the blood from my finger, and made my way to Skowhegan and Tractor Supply to get kitten formula before they closed for the day. Because I drive a standard, and because the kitten was terrified and would not sit quietly in my lap, I could not hold the kitten as I drove, and she hid under the passenger seat and cried the whole way. From outside the store I called my baby sister Marie for advice on what to do next. Marie has worked closely with the Franklin County Animal Shelter to foster animals for year and is an advocate for animal welfare. Even now Marie is fostering a young kitten, getting up in the night and even leaving work on her breaks to run home to bottle feed her charge.
I was not sure how old the kitten was, and because she was under the seat I could not send a picture to my sister. But Marie told me I can use goat’s milk to feed the baby, which I happened to have at home thanks to my friends from Hide and Go Peep Farm. So then I just needed something to feed it with.
It turned out Tractor Supply had just sold out of their kitten bottles, and Walmart had none either, so Marie suggested a medicine dropper, which I managed to find for $4.
Once I finally got the kitten home to Runamuk and was able to take a photo of it to relay to Marie, we were able to determine that she is about 5-6 weeks old. Thankfully I will not need to bottle feed the kitten after all, and instead Marie suggested I feed her canned cat food mixed with the goat’s milk and train her to the litter box.
This morning the kitten has eaten her breakfast and is exploring Jim’s big old farmhouse while Murphy watches over her protectively, and I have given the feisty unfortunate critter the name of Sheeta─which is the name of the heroine in the Hayao Miyazaki film “Castle in the Sky”─a favorite of mine. And while my finger is still sore, I know I’ve done the right thing in taking in this woeful kitten. Hopefully she will be a good mouser and a valuable addition to this farm.