Monday, June 20, 2011

Foster kitten

My parking spot for the Mississippi flood Red Cross relief operation was behind the giant empty industrial facility we used as a headquarters. The building was over a quarter mile in length, and the walk from the bus to the front door was about a half mile. Fortunately, the warehouse staff arrived early each morning and opened the loading dock near the bus, cutting my walk in half.

The dumpster and truck parking area was near the loading dock, and I often strolled there in the evenings to drop off my trash and enjoy the only part of the day when temperatures dropped below 90 degrees.

About a week before Sean finished in Alabama, I was on my evening walk when I heard a very loud, distressed animal cry from under one of our box trucks. I knew the security guards were feeding a cat at the front door, and several puppies had been dumped on the property about a month earlier. The puppies had been adopted within days. I had also seen armadillos and possums, and had been warned to watch out for snakes. I'm pretty sure copperheads don't cry, so I approached the truck. Whatever it was, I figured it would be wild and afraid of humans, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't in the truck engine compartment.

Much to my surprise, when I got within 20 feet of the truck, a tiny kitten came barreling out from underneath. His tail was in the friendly, straight up position and he came right over to me, rubbing my legs, purring and meowing to beat the band. When I pet him, I could feel his skinny ribs and his fur felt matted and lumpy. Poor little guy! You can't be more than 6-7 weeks old. Where is your mother?

I scooped him up and carried him back to the bus. At the very least, I had soft canned cat food and a safe place for him to sleep. He inhaled the food, purring and crying while he swallowed. How long had it been since he last ate? I took Opal's plastic carrying crate outside, put in some soft rags, a small litter box, more cat food and a bowl of water. Since I was worried that he had fleas or other parasites, I put the kitten in the secure carrier and tucked it under the eaves of the building for the night.

I knew there was a No-Kill animal rescue center in town, so on my lunch break the next day, I drove kitten and carrier to the shelter. I had plans to drop him off, make a small cash donation, and be on my way. But as soon as I walked in, the staff shook their heads and said, "No room at the inn." However, they gave me worming medicine, kitten food, and special gentle flea shampoo without asking for any money. They suggested that I take some photos and write up a story about "Rudy the Red Cross kitten" and they would post it on their website, assuring me that he would probably be adopted in a week or so.

A week! What was I going to do with a kitten for a week? Well, obviously I was going to feed him, and bathe him, and give him his meds. The good news was that the lumps that I thought were scabs or fleas turned out to be small burrs and his own skinny vertebrae. After his bath and a few more meals, he was looking and smelling good. He must have only spent a few nights out on his own, and I never saw any evidence of worms. He was also impossible to photograph, because Rudy never stopped moving.

Back in the office, I put up posters asking if any volunteers who lived locally were interested in a kitten. Within 2 hours, a young woman who had just taken a paid staff position at the local Red Cross chapter approached me. Ashley had just moved into her new apartment and was looking for a kitten for company. She met Rudy and couldn't resist him. Hooray, Rudy has a Forever Home! However, Ashley was going to be away from Jackson for the weekend, working on the relief operation in the northern part of Mississippi. She didn't want him to spend his first few days alone in her apartment. Could I keep him two more nights?

Now that Rudy was clean and healthy, and I knew I could enjoy his company without having to commit to adding another animal permanently to the Odyssey menagerie, I was thrilled to cuddle and play with the little guy for a few more days. He was great fun and very cooperative about sleeping in the dog carrier at night and when I was in the office working. Rudy and Opal became great friends. The old girl wagged her tail and followed her tiny buddy around from one end of the bus to the other. George and Angel...well, you'll have to watch the video to see what they thought.

Ashley picked the kitten up and reports that he is happy and healthy. She renamed him, but he'll always be Rudy to me.


  1. Red Cross to the rescue once again. Nice to read a feel good story once in a while. And I am glad to see that you are back on the road. I missed Sean and your posts but understand that when you are doing good things for folks in bad straits it is difficult to entertain us more fortunate folks as well. Travel safe

  2. Can't get over those ears! Sure she didn't rename him "Dumbo" or something similar?
    A fine bit of entertainment. Thanks. Keep on keepin' on.

  3. What a cute little guy. The video was hysterical! Looks like he entertained everyone on the bus...including the vacuum cleaner! Ha!

  4. I couldn't get the video to run, my Internet is the pits here sometimes, but little Rudy is darling. I'm so glad he found a good home.

  5. Opal will be missing him and he will appreciate your good deed forever...As Bob said, with ears like that, he will be able to hear you no matter where you travel! Another job well done.

  6. SO CUTE!!!!

    Missing Kiki right now - we need to buy a bus so we can get her back!


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