It had been a fairly typical spring morning at the animal hospital, with a steady stream of clients and their pets passing through. Just before lunch, a local homeless man—whose dog my boss allowed us to care for pro-bono—came in with two tiny kittens wrapped in a towel. He said he’d found the mother dead, hit by a car, and had followed the kittens’ cries to locate them.
We thanked him and brought the two frail kittens, a male and a female, back for an immediate exam. They were about two days old and were severely dehydrated. We placed them on a warming pad and gave them fluid injections under the skin, which is standard for severely dehydrated animals. When the two kittens had stabilized, we offered them formula. The male kitten refused the food. His condition deteriorated quickly and he passed away about an hour later. The female kitten, took to the syringe of formula immediately and drained it.
Having fostered my fair share of kittens, I volunteered to take the female kitten to my house and care for her. My fiancée and I fashioned a little bed for her using a shoebox, a sweatshirt, and a heat lamp. We took turns feeding her at 2-hour intervals around the clock. At feeding time, she was so eager that she at first tried to bite the syringe before suckling from it. It was clear that this kitten wanted to live.
After a few days, when it became clear she was getting stronger, we named her Annie (after Little Orphan Annie). At the time my fiancée and I shared a house with another couple, so we all pitched in to feed and clean Annie. The overnight feedings were the hardest, but sharing the labor made it easier. Within a few weeks, Annie was able to come explore the rest of the house (with our supervision). Our other cats (all 5 of them) were skeptical but curious; however, Annie was quickly welcomed into the family. Our dog, Misty—an 11-year-old Shepherd-Sheltie mix—took a little more convincing, as she seemed understandably afraid of stepping on the new arrival.
Annie was an odd-looking cat. She had a very short neck, a pear-shaped body, and her rear legs were slightly pigeon-toed. The combined effect gave her the look of a short-eared rabbit, especially when she descended the stairs in a series of hops. One of her favorite games was to sit in someone’s lap and kick herself in the head with her rear legs. We were never sure what she enjoyed about that.
As the weeks went by, it became clear that our temporary foster would be a permanent family member. Annie took an immediate liking to the dog and followed her around the house. She loved being held and cuddled, though because she had been bottle-raised, she didn’t learn to knead until she watched our oldest cat, Frank, do it. We were pretty sure she thought she was a person, not a cat, as she preferred spending time with us, instead of socializing with the other cats.
When Misty passed away we adopted a new rescue dog—Hammer—and Annie took to him immediately, following him around the house. A few years later, when our daughter was born, Annie welcomed her open-heartedly into the family. Annie remained a much-loved part of our family for nearly 15 years, and we are much the better for having known her.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.