Metazoan mysteries

Metazoan mysteries

It was a stinktacular Saturday at Tabby’s Place.

The septic pump failed. All laundry and toilet-time activities were shut down. And to top it off, we were in very real danger of creating fake news.


Six kittens had just arrived from New York, bestowed with the names Anemone, Shrimp, Anchovy, Barnacle, Scallop and Urchin. Text messages were flying between Tabby’s Place staff, peppered with photos of the wee tabbies and emoji-laden sighs of AWWWHHH!

And also a photo of the septic truck arriving to pump out our problems.

Somewhere in the flurry, someone innocently referred to the kittens as “The Crustacean Litter.” And that’s when His Eminence himself, Founder and Executive Director Jonathan, had to chime in:

“In the interest of not creating fake news, I must point out they’re not all crustaceans. The nearest ancestor to all of them is Metazoan. So please refer to them as the Metazoan Litter. Nuff said.”


Further comments from Jonathan:

“I am also Metazoan.”

“Next will be the Opisthokont litter.”

But there was scarcely time to celebrate our just-in-time name correction or our septic salvation before the miniature Metazoans began struggling.

Amid all the mirth and madness at Tabby’s Place, we are regularly smacked with the kinds of sadness for which you can never, ever be truly prepared. Case in point: the death of Shrimp.


Desperately delicate, Shrimp (also pictured in top thumbnail) crashed on Saturday morning. With perilously low body temperature, plunging blood glucose and a fading heart rate, Shrimp needed all the heroics Denise, Karina and Lisa could muster. For hours, this terrific troika did everything possible, but the littlest Metazoan did not make it.

If you can weep via text message, we all did.

But there were five more furry miniatures to nurture, and so our graceful, gritty staff wiped their tears and went back to blazing forth with love.


It would be needed in narwhal-sized measure.

Scallop would soon sigh into eternity, despite all that Jess and Denise did in the name of love. And, as of this post, Barnacle is burrito-ed up in a makeshift baby carrier, nestled in Jess’ arms with an IV catheter in place, as his temperature and blood glucose are dipping. Anemone, Urchin and Anchovy thrive on, navigating the choppy seas of kittenhood in the care of seasoned captains Karina and Jess.

And so we all forge onward.


This is where I can’t help but get metaphysical about the Metazoans. We all have different ways of dealing with death, and I tend to think we’re all right and we’re all wrong in different ways. But I’m inclined to believe that there’s something very right about feeling that these deaths are wrong, a kind of theft. Newborn lives are not supposed to be snuffed out.

No lives are supposed to be snuffed out.

And if we feel in our bones that death is deceit, we yearn for an invincible truth, and a time when all things will be made right. I’ll stake every breath on that hope.


Shrimp and Scallop will float and frolic, unfettered by pain.

No Barnacle will be battered by sickness.

The last tear will be wiped dry. The last crying emoji will be backspaced.

Today we cry, the ancient wail known since before the Cambrian Explosion. But tomorrow, some tomorrow, we will rejoice, and no one will steal our joy.

Love onward, brave kittens. We are all in this mystery together.

Painful postscript: Less than an hour after this blog went up, Barnacle lost his final fight. Please keep his valiant foster mom Jess, and remaining kittens Anchovy, Anemone and Urchin, in your prayers.

1 thought on “Metazoan mysteries

  1. Aa well, I always say that I want to know the daily activities – my heart is heavy to learn that Shrimp and Scallop and Barnacle did not survive tiny babyhood. Urchin, Anemone and Anchovy are all that is left to carry on the Metazoan name. May they find strength and health at Tabby’s Place in the next few days, and hoist their little flags high. Surely love and goodness (and Jess, Jonathan and Angela) can win this fight!

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