After a week that included bad news and a flooded basement, a box of kittens was just what we needed. Holly agreed.
So, Sunday morning, when her brother asked, “Any news on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (the young man, who, with his now-deceased older brother, allegedly committed acts of terrorism at the Boston Marathon and was apprehended last Friday night after being holed-up on a boat in someone’s backyard)?” I replied that I’d heard none.
I wasn’t at all surprised when Holly, curled up beside me, cupped her hands and whispered, “They’re this big, Noah,” as she crooned over and cradled a tiny, imaginary kitten.
I get it: killing, no matter who perpetrates it, is hard to digest. Kittens, not so hard. As the old saying goes, “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”
So, yes, the way my daughter copes works for me.
In fact, needing a respite from news of terrorism, manhunts and torrential rains, Holly and I headed to the Humane Society the afternoon before (dodging road-closures along the way) to volunteer.
We learned that a box of five kittens was on its way in, so we readied a clean cage in the kitten room. Maybe 4 weeks old, they’d weathered the storm, too, but outside, in a woodpile. Their mother was nowhere to be found and they were hungry. So, we fed them.
We’d never bottle-fed kittens before. I’d never even bottle-fed my own offspring, so this was new territory for me. But Holly? She got the hang of it immediately, even managed to swing feeding two at a time, a bottle in each hand. I called her the “kitten-whisperer.”
I sat nearby, at first, one tiny, orange tabby in my lap, who required a bit more coaxing to take a bottle. “Jim,” a curious, fun-loving, all-black 1-year-old cat, who’d been at the shelter a month already, reached through the bars of his cage a mere foot away. He slowly stretched out his paw, in an apparent effort to connect with the younger kitten. Not at all flustered that he couldn’t actually reach him, he simply arranged himself against the cage door with his paw outstretched, while we fed his new roommates.
This simple gesture made my heart swell.
Before long, the kittens (who, we discovered, seem more relaxed and feed better when in close proximity to each other, as they naturally would if they were still nursing) curled up together in a pile of pure sweetness and dropped off to sleep.
When we returned to feed them again Sunday morning, this time with Noah, we learned that a foster family had been found and was on its way to pick them up (we couldn’t take them in ourselves, as we have an older, medically challenged cat whose condition worsens when his environment changes). We fed them; they left; and we spent another hour walking the dogs and playing with the puppies before we headed home.
Unbeknownst to us, however, we weren’t done, yet. A block from our house we spotted an old collie out for a romp, no leash and no person attached, so we followed him. A lanky boy soon followed, breathless and running.
“He’s been running for three miles!” he said through my open window, when I slowed down to inquire. The dog showed no signs of stopping, but the boy looked wiped-out, so we offered to help.
Twice, we pulled up alongside the dog and my kids jumped out to try and catch him, but he eluded them. The boy eventually caught up with us on a bike. Eventually, a good mile later, the dog’s luck finally ran out when the kids all managed to corner him against a fence where Noah was able to grab his collar. Shaking, a tired and muddy “Tucker,” as he’s apparently called, got a ride home in my car.
What fun Sunday was! My children were so filled with energy and laughter as they recounted their stories, and I am grateful for that. We may not be able to do anything about, let alone understand, what transpired in Boston – or anywhere else, for that matter – but there is always something we can do to make something, somewhere, better for someone.
That’s what I want them to know. There’s always something they can do.
We discussed why I wouldn’t normally recommend that they attempt to round-up a strange dog; however, this one obviously had a collar and people, one in hot pursuit. My instinct was that he was probably well-cared for and had simply gotten out, not that he was sick or rabid. He simply had spring fever, managed to sneek past someone, and had a good romp. I almost hated to end it.
So yes, a box of kittens – and an old collie with a few wild oats left to sow, are just the thing, the perfect antidote, to a mad, mad world.
We already miss the kittens.
“Any news on the kittens being fostered?” I asked, when I called the shelter on Thursday.
There wasn’t any, and the worker who answered the phone and I agreed that “no news is good news.” Ain’t that the truth? There will be more bad news, more misguided people making bad choices, but no worries. There will also be more babies to let us know that life must go on.
Spring is here, and Mother Nature’s just getting started.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.