If there’s one thing more disturbing than an “evil” kitten, it’s a missing kitten.
For that reason, sweet-as-pudding Steve wins the “most disturbing kitten” award at Tabby’s Place this week.
At the moment, we have four itty bitty kitties living in lobby condos: Zac, Taylor, Daphne and Steve. Happy as they are wrestling in their condos, there’s nothing these babies love more than romping through the lobby. (And who can blame them? The lobby has its obvious charms: enormous sprinting space, countless hidey holes, “Weird Uncle” Tashi…)
Yesterday, as usual, we let the wee beasties romp through the lobby during morning cleaning, when staff and volunteers are on hand to keep an eye on them. Once morning rounds were over, volunteer Stephanie began rustling up the kittens to gather them back into their condos. One by one, she engaged the little ones in their favorite game, “catch me if you can.” (Sometimes we can; more often, we need to “double-team” them if we have any hope of scooping them up.)
But, try as she might, Stephanie could only round up 75% of our kitten population. And the missing marmalade boy just so happened to be the gentlest, mildest, (usually) easiest-to-catch kitten of all…Steve.
Stephanie poked her head into the Community Room. “Angela, has Steve been in here?”
I didn’t think so, but, just to be sure, I looked all around my desk. No Steve. The search party widened. Jonathan remembered that, last week, Daphne had disappeared under his bookshelf, so he looked there for Steve. No sign of the little ginger guy. How many places could a kitten hide?
The more we pondered the possibilities, the faster this game of hide-and-seek went from “cute” to “scary.”
With the whole staff and a platoon of volunteers now combing the lobby, offices, and side hallway, Steve certainly had the dream team on his side. My gaze kept going to the outside door…but no. No, I couldn’t fathom that this little angel-face, who’d barely survived his hungry, outdoor orphan days, would possibly dart out again. Didn’t he realize how much sweeter his life had been since coming in from the cold? Could he possibly have ventured back out to the wild world that had almost claimed his life the first time around? It just couldn’t be.
It was Denise who began calling the little guy’s name in the lobby. Denise is the one who nursed our little guy back from the brink, the one whose tender care brought him from looking like a shriveled, fuzzy orange raisin (as you can see in the photo below, taken moments after Steve’s arrival) to a healthy, romping baby boy.
And, as it happens, Steve never forgot his “mama,” or her voice.
All attention snapped to the center of the lobby. “Denise,” someone cried, “he’s answering you!”
“Steeee-veeeen,” she called softly.
“It sounds like he’s under Polly,” I realized aloud, following the tiny feline voice to the chair currently occupied by our pretty torbie. Yikes. As Polly isn’t a fan of her own species (or humans, for that matter), hiding under Polly would not be a wise move.
Jonathan hit the floor and set his sights under the couch. “Aha!! Look at this!”
Sure enough, the underbelly of the lobby couch had a mewing, kitten-sized lump. It seems Uncle Tashi inadvertently created a new hidey-hole for his nieces and nephews. Tashi loves to cling to the underside of the couch with all four paws, and spin around wildly; somewhere along the line, he must have made a slit in the lining…which seemed to Steve an excellent place to nestle.
“Meeeeeew!” Except that now he was stuck.
Elated to have found her boy, Denise reached into the belly of the couch and pulled him out by the scruff. Back in his foster mama’s arms, shy Stevie was all cuddles and purrs, saved again.
What would have happened to Steve if he hadn’t answered Denise’s calls, and we hadn’t heard him inside that big bad couch? I dare not guess. But, when Stevie finds his forever home, we’ll have to tell his new family the power of calling our little adventurer’s name with a heart – and voice - full of love.