I’d heard it mewling, maybe since the first day I arrived. I assumed the kitten was being unattended periodically as its mother perhaps searched for food in this country where stray cats and dogs often fend for themselves.
By the third day however, the sound the kitten was making took on proportions, for me, on par with Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart. I couldn’t stop hearing it.
When I awoke at night to use the bathroom, the sound of its plaintive crying forced me back into the air conditioned bedroom where I couldn’t hear it. The sound was breaking my heart. Finally, this morning I needed to obey the call and I ventured out to see if I could find it (them?) in the rear of the building where I was staying.
I was ill prepared, bringing nothing with me other than a need to see if there was anything I could do to help. I considered that I might find an injured animal and wondered what I would be able to offer in a situation such as that.
“You got the wrong Meder kid, kitty,” I apologized in advance.
It took only a moment to find the tiny kitten. It was curled into the base of a tree, eyes closed and howling with misery.
A more adult cat was posed about 15 feet away, almost as if on sentry duty. I saw no evidence that this other cat was the missing mother, looking for teats or a loose belly and finding neither. This other cat was lean, but healthy looking. His (?) coloring was similar to the kitten’s and I’d definitely consider fingering him as the father in this situation.
Despite my slow pace and gentle voice, the big cat took off when I arrived on the scene. I turned my attention to the little one.
He was absolutely pathetic, despondent, with a dash of outrage, that he had been left behind. His body was mostly white, with touches of light ginger and grey on his tail and ears and he was so very small.
I left him to retrieve a few things, returning with water, inappropriate adult canned food which I hoped might attract bigger cats to return and comfort the baby, and small tins I had found at the market around the corner.
I found him rotated about 180° when I returned. He looked bad. I did what I could – finger fed him water repeatedly and then stroked him with my wet finger hoping he’d be comforted by a touch similar to his mother’s tongue.
I spoke to him ever so gently, telling him he was loved and coaxing him to take in more water, thrilled each time he smacked his mouth. I loved him, love being a verb, of course.
Then, I had to leave him. He was a situation I couldn’t take on and it broke my heart. I sat on a park bench with pastry from a lovely bakery beside me, feeling undeserving of the beautiful brioche I had purchased. I cried.
I stayed at the beach as long as I could, trying not to think of the kitten. My pace quickened, though, as I drew more near to my accommodations, even as I prayed that the kitten would be gone – one way or another. I found him in the same location, quiet for a moment and taking his siesta.
I gave him more water, and stroked him for quite some time, not certain if I was comforting him or myself. His body quaked, but he seemed consoled by my presence and did not try to escape my touch. Gently, I cleaned his eyes with water and a paper towel, revealing his perfect blue eyes.
I cried some more.
Circumstances in which I feel powerless distress me more than anything. For the first time on this trip, I wanted to go home. I needed a hug.
Intellectually, I understood that the responsibility of this abandoned animal did not fall upon me but, damn it, why does the world have to be such a cold place sometimes? I just want this little, living creature to have a chance. That doesn’t seem like so very much to ask, does it?
My consolation is that something or someone who has been loved, lives forever. Even though I can’t take him home (believe me, I checked), he won’t be forgotten. Please, consider putting this sweet animal in your thoughts and send some positive energy their way – and hug me next time you see me. Both would be appreciated.