We started to worry about Emilia being alone for so many hours during the day, still being a borderline kitten when we adopted her. We both work full time & were concerned about boredom, & she had put on some weight rather quickly, so I also worried she wasn’t active enough and was eating for a lack of anything else to do. She had toys but no one to engage her for hours everyday so Rob & I were giving some thought to adopting another cat, around the same age as Emilia so they would hopefully have similar interests, energy levels and be able to live out their lives together.
I have a tendency to talk about Emilia a lot while I’m at work. One day during a cat related conversation, one of my co-workers chimed in, telling us about a family of abandoned cats wandering her neighborhood. This cat family consisted of a mother and three kittens. According to my co-worker, the mother cat, Rhonda, was owned by an elderly couple in the neighborhood, both of who were on Hospice and could no longer take care of her, and the family didn’t want to deal with her. Rhonda was a beautiful, domestic long hair with very unique markings & I believe she was used as a decoration, something to be admired, rather than a living being. Her owners went to the time & expense to have her declawed and devocalized, but never bothered to have her spayed. They wanted something nice to look at but didn’t want to hear her meow, so they took away her voice. They didn’t want a cat who did normal cat things, such as scratch (something that can be taken care of with scratch posts & toys) so they took her away her toe nails. They should have gotten a statue of a cat because to them, that’s what this cat was good for. The owners family didn’t want to deal with the cat, so they let her outside to fend for herself, with no concern over well being. The owners hadn’t spayed her, but who cares her if there’s no one to care for the kittens? Who cares if she has multiple litters, outside, who could then have multiple litters outside, and so on, increasing the number of kittens born by thousands over the years? Sure enough, Rhonda ended up pregnant. Then there is the issue of declawing. Cats need claws to defend themselves against predators, so without these, Rhonda has no way to defend herself or her kittens against anything that comes along. They took away her method of self defense, which could have very literally cost her her life. They took away her method of defening her kittens if a predator had come along and tried to eat her babies. It’s a mother’s instinct to protect their young, cat’s included, and they robbed her of the ability to protect her kittens. Then there is the matter of her devocalization. So, not only is she unable to defend herself or her kittens, but she can’t even call for help if she is in danger! She can’t alert anyone if she in pain or sick or has a need. Not to mention, can you imagine being mute and having no way to communicate even when you’re happy or excited? That’s what happened to Rhonda.
After my co-worker told me that Rhonda and her kittens were running the streets of Tacoma with no protection, I sent my mom a quick message, asking her if she knew anyone who could help them, mentioning that Rhonda had been declawed. My mom does some rescue work for feral cats & knows a lot of people in the local “cat” community, so she was able to get in touch with her friend, Deb, who got in touch with her friend, Amanda, and we were all put in touch with each other. Amanda went and saved the cats that very night.
I never saw one of the kittens. There aren’t any pictures of him floating around, and when Amanda was rescuing them, a neighbor who had been feeding them decided they wanted to keep one so I never got to meet him! Hopefully they’re good people and he is well taken care of. The fact that they are a family who was taking the time to give them some food gives me hope as to the type of humans they are. So, Amanda left that kitten with them.
During my conversation with my co-worker, I asked if there was an orange one. This wasn’t a make or break, but Rob & I were both interested in an orange tabby. She showed me the pictures she had of one of the kittens, who actually turned out to be orange & white! I forwarded the picture to Rob, who right away said to get him! He wasn’t a tabby but we didn’t care. It was an exiciting day! A family of cats were being rescued & Emilia was getting a friend.
Amanda met up with my co-worker that night so that she could be shown exactly where the kittens were hanging out. Apparently there was a specific area in the bushes Rhonda and her kittens were calling home. I was told that Rhonda & the kitten I never met were sweet & friendly, the orange & white kitten we wanted was fairly easy to catch, but the third kitten, a black & white “tuxedo,” was a challenge. He was terrified and had no interest in human contact. They were finally able to get him but it took something like two hours.
After the neighbors decided to keep the first kitten, Amanda took Rhonda and the other two kittens to her house. She estimated the kittens to be about 8 weeks old. I’d already expressed interest in the orange and white one, so she knew he was spoken for and had a home. After a couple of days, Amanda decided that she was going to keep Rhonda, and changed her name to Junebug. She sent me a picture of her, said she was a beautiful cat & just had the sweetest personality. She said that she seen the nice house Junebug once lived in, and said that she felt Junebug was basically an ornament among their things. Amanda also said that Junebug hadn’t made a peep, pretty much confirming what we’d been told about her devocalization. She said she just fell in love with her & she fit right in with her other pets, and I think it was very important to her that Junebug have a home where she would be loved, and where someone would be sure to keep her indoors, and would be able to care for her properly after all she had gone through. It would be challenging to always know what is best for a cat who can’t communicate her needs. I was so happy to hear this news! I’d actually been asking around to my animal loving friends & family in an effort to find her an amazing home because I, too, was worried about her well being. It was massive relief to find out Amanda would keep her. I also knew she would have her spayed!
That left the black & white kitten. I felt really guilty that everyone else had been picked out but no one had chosen him, like I was leaving one tiny, unwanted kitten to chance fate. I asked Amanda what would happen to him and she said he would be adopted out. Adoption programs are great, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how scared he was. She said he was far more afraid than the rest of them & that he didn’t want to be touched. I kept thinking about him going through the trauma of being alone, going to the humane society, then having to go through the fear he would experience meeting strangers who may or may not choose him. I worried about him not getting adopted because he was too skittish to show anything he had to offer but anxiety. Then, I kept thinking about if someone did adopt him, would they be patient enough with him to allow him the time to mellow out and come around? Or would he end up with someone who thought they wanted a cat, but would be frustrated with him when he wasn’t the cute, cuddly kitten they expected? So, I told Amanda I would talk to my husband about taking both kittens. She was thrilled to hear this. I think that any time someone can provide a good home, taking more cats off the streets & putting them into safe situations, or leaving more room in the shelters for other cats who desperately need a spot, it makes her happy. I knew Rob wouldn’t be thrilled about the prospect of having three cats…
… and I was right. He was open to a second cat & was genuinely interested in the orange and white kitten but didn’t want a third cat. I tried to reason with him but he kept saying no. This went on for a couple of days but I wasn’t giving in!
Rob & I are a team. We consult each other on things, discuss major decisions, get opinions on big changes, etc. We show each other that kind of respect. If one really doesn’t like an idea, then the other one won’t do it. He has a huge heart but Emilia had already cost us so much in vet bills that I think the cost of three animals stressed him out. However, I was unwilling to let the conversation go. The kittens were very attached to each other, I knew we could be a good home to both & I knew we would provide the kind of environment where a terrified kitten would be okay. I also figured it would be helpful to them to have each other. Finally, I put my foot down and said both kittens would be coming to live with us. Under any other circumstance, I would have respected his answer, but I just couldn’t let that kitten go. At this point, he wasn’t happy but he finally gave in.
I told Amanda, who was ecstatic that we would take both, and a few days later, we brought them home. Now, here we are four months later, with two six month old kittens!
Unfortunately, Junebug’s new life was a short lived situation. After being in Amanda’s care for only a short time, she became very ill & they discovered she had something called pyometra, a bacterial infection of the uterus. Amanda took Junebug the vet ER more than once and spent hundreds trying to save her life, but unfortunately, in mid July, Junebug passed. The good news is that she wasn’t alone, because Amanda was by her side, showering her with love. That beats being outside, alone, leaving kittens on their own. It makes me so sad to know she died but I’m glad she experienced some happiness in her final days.
I wish Junebug had been cared for better by her owner’s family. If she had been, she might still be alive today. Maybe if she had a voice, she could have communicated that something was wrong and it could have been addressed sooner… or maybe she never would have ended up with it. Pyometra needs to be caught early and treated aggressively. Maybe the world would still be without Junebug… but maybe not. Out of tragedy, though, came three little kittens, two of which are now our babies, Jameson & Sebastian.