A stray kitten's journey to find a forever family.
Several years ago, I worked in an office building near the Santa Monica pier which had a subterranean parking garage that descended four levels below street level. It was far enough underground that cell phones stopped working around P2, and radio stations gave way to nothing but static around P3. It wound downward in a large, swooping spiral ringed with parking spaces, the final spur at the bottom of P4 dead-ending at a fenced-off area where the building’s HVAC units were stored and maintained.
It certainly wasn’t ever a place that, upon parking way down on level P4 one morning, my coworker and I expected to hear a soft, weak meow.
In the deepest corner of the parking garage, literally hiding among the HVAC machinery, we found a tiny orange tabby kitten! We had no idea how a kitten had managed to wander this far down from street level, or why it hadn’t been able to find its way back out. It was in pretty bad shape: fur was matted with grease and dirt, so malnourished that we could see its ribcage, and injuries to its ear (a missing chunk), and paw (a pronounced limp). Upon closer inspection, this poor little kitten was even missing one of her two front fangs!
I stayed with it while my coworker went upstairs to get some supplies. He came back with a few old cloth towels. We nestled the kitten in the blankets and took it upstairs to the bathroom where we did our best to clean it off. After scrounging up an empty printer paper carton, we put the towels inside and turned it into a makeshift bed, which the kitten slept in peacefully under my coworker’s desk while we called nearby veterinarians to see if we could get an appointment.
Later that afternoon, we took the poor little thing (and the entire bed box) to a vet who had agreed to look at it. They gave a much more thorough bath than we could manage in our office restroom sink, confirmed it was, in fact, a she, patched her up, prescribed her some medications, and gave us instructions about how to nurse the little girl back to good health. My coworker and I ultimately decided to call her Evie, after the late-80s’ sitcom Out of This World for which my coworker and I shared a nostalgic fondness.
My coworker decided to take her home, so it looked like Evie was in good shape.
But her journey didn’t end there.
It turned out that my coworker’s girlfriend was allergic to cats. Neither of them had ever owned a pet before and while both really liked the idea of welcoming a furry friend into their home, there was no way Evie could stay with them while someone in the house had a severe allergy to cat dander.
So Evie came to live with me instead.
My wife and I already had one cat and figured maybe Dora would like a little sister to keep her company. Boy were we wrong! As a rescue from a bad situation herself (another story for another time), Dora is very needy and, as we soon discovered, very territorial as well. If we leave her alone even for a single night, she follows us around for days after we return home. She cries and scratches at the door when we’re in the bathroom or bedroom for an extended period of time and she’s on the other side of the door. Needless to say, apparently the thought of having to share her humans’ affections with a newcomer did not sit well with her!
Dora repeatedly abused Evie. The younger kitten would want to explore, or play, or snuggle, and Dora wouldn’t have any of it. She would thwack Evie on the head every time the young one tried to play with her, sleep on her cushions, eat her food, or try to get attention from us. Since Evie was still recovering, it got to the point where we had to separate them, keeping Evie in the bedroom with the door closed while she recuperated.
It took a few weeks of TLC before Evie was back to normal. During that time she would snuggle with us while we slept, sun herself on the desk next to the window where sunlight would filter through, and find anything and everything to play with that wasn’t safely secured away. Shoelaces and other stringy things were a favorite of hers. Eventually, while she still had a missing tooth and a mangled ear that would never heal without expensive surgery, she made what was for all intents and purposes a full recovery. The medicine had healed the infection in her paw so she wasn’t limping anymore, and she had put on enough weight that the vet no longer considered her malnourished. Her coat was a bright, vibrant orange thanks to repeated baths, and we were even able to have the vet give her the normal course of vaccines and spay her so she was ready to live a full and healthy life.
But the question remained about where she could live that life. We couldn’t spend the rest of our days with two cats living in separate rooms, could we?
A solution presented itself when I was filling in another coworker about the situation about a week later. She mentioned a friend of hers who was debating whether to get a pet for her kids. They were getting to that age where they really wanted a pet to play with, and the friend and her husband had the usual parental doubts. Were the kids old enough to handle this responsibility? Did they have the money to pay for all the vaccinations and vet visits to get the animal checked out? There were already five people living in their tiny two-bedroom apartment; did they have the space for a pet? And what if the pet had a bad attitude or didn’t get along well with kids?
I mentioned sweet Evie to my coworker, who relayed the information to her friend. There very small kitten who was wonderfully affectionate, healthy, and whose medical needs to this point had all been paid up. Would she be interested in adopting it?
Her friend discussed it with her husband and they agreed that Evie would be a good first pet for their family. So my wife and I packed Evie up into a carrier we had bought for her, loaded it up with as many toys and treats and care products as we could, and drove her to her new home across town.
Saying goodbye to Evie was one of the hardest things my wife and I have done. Like Dora, we saved her from a bad situation, raised her back up to good health, and really bonded with her. We didn’t want to say goodbye and there’s still a part of us, even this many years later, that wonders if we should have tried a little harder or longer to see if she and Dora could acclimate to one another.
But seeing the bright faces of those three kids when their parents told them that we were delivering their kitten ... we knew it was the right thing to do. As much as we loved Evie, having her live in a home where she had to share the affections with another needy cat paled in comparison to this warm and loving home where three attentive, delighted kids would treat her like a princess.
We said our goodbyes so they could introduce themselves to their new pet. That night was the last we saw of Evie, rolling around on the thick shag carpeting, purring loudly as three young kids lavished love and attention on their very first pet.
In the months after, I repeatedly heard stories from our mutual acquaintance coworker about how much the kids loved Evie and how much Evie loved them. While having to give her up will always be a sad memory for my wife and me, it’s so gratifying to know that the small kitten we discovered on her last legs had finally managed to find a loving forever family.
Originally written for "The PET NEWS CONTEST" and "I Write in 2018" .