My orphan kittens are thriving. At least, two of the three are alive and doing well.
In June I wrote about new mouths to feed at Las Golondrinas: my seasonal Hummingbirds at the kitchen window and orphan kittens found in a hollow log near my well house. The three little ones were pitiful waifs, boney and frail like furtive ghosts. No sign of the mother cat around the old fallen tree.
Burnsie would whine at the gate at feeding times, eager to run to the fallen tree. He knew the orphans were there before I saw them. He wasn’t aggressive; he was curious.
I took them small bowls of half-n-half milk, almost certain they were too young to lap milk on their own. At first they wouldn’t coax out from the recesses of their log, but I left the small bowl anyway. When they did begin to come to their bowl I noticed the smallest one was roughly pushed away from access to the milk. I tried feeding the runt separately but after a week only two kittens were alive. Burnsie found the carcass of the runt.
As the Orphans gained strength they became quite bold. They would wait at their hollow log for our approach to feed the animals and run eagerly to meet Burnsie and me, often hazarding getting stepped on as they darted in front of my feet practically on top of my shoes. Other times the Orphans played and romped under the feet of donkeys who gathered in front of the well house, the kittens’ tiny size out of all proportion to their fearlessness.
My Orphans have now graduated to large curd “Scottage Cheese” mixed with cat kibble topped with a bit of half-n-half milk. They’re not boney anymore but still tiny and still fearless. I call them “Monkeys” as they scurry about my and Burnsie’s feet on the way to place their food bowl inside their fallen log where other mouths can’t reach it.
I certainly did NOT need more mouths to feed at Las Golondrinas. But, as Wendell Berry says in one of his poems, we live the Life given, not the one planned.
These days my ‘givens’ include two Orphans, now Burnsie’s feline friends and pint-sized inspiration to me. As the Orphans have learned to swarm around me, the Nurturer in their world, so I choose to believe Life gives as well as takes away. Like the kittens, if I am to nurture the fire within me, I must swarm to those who fan my flames.
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine