Stray kittens, geriatric Chihuahuas, and good deeds

About an hour ago, a small calico kitten named Nibbler was sitting on my desk, looking at me. She was obviously considering whether or not to kick me off my computer and go online to look for cat videos on YouTube.

Another cat named Lemon was sitting at my jewelry bench across the office, also watching me and wondering why I wasn’t busily opening a can of cat food for him or cleaning his litter box.

Meanwhile, my sometime co-author Minnie, the now almost 15-year old Chihuahua, was asleep on our bed, oblivious to the feline machinations.

So how did I come to have cats in my office? No, I didn’t forget to close the back door. It’s way weirder than that and involves traps, strays, cat people, and the Dumpster behind the Chinese restaurant.

Sometime in late October, my wife and I were taking our evening walk when we noticed a kitten behind the Chinese restaurant. We explored further and discovered she had friends.

We started out just leaving a few cat treats for them and then we moved up to feeding them. Finally, with winter approaching, my kind-hearted wife started worrying about what would happen to them when it got cold.

They were moving from an abandoned barn across the railroad tracks to the hot-air vent at the Laundromat, but that was obviously not going to cut it once it got really cold. So, being an occasionally smart guy, I called Animal Control.

They don’t do cats. Really. Just dogs, and rabid things and stray politicians I guess.

I called a few cat organizations and was pretty much told the inn was full. So finally, Happy Cats, a nice agency over in Voorheesville said, if we could catch them and hang onto them for a bit, they could find homes for them. Not a big deal right? Oh, so wrong.

Happy Cats loaded my car with three Havahart traps, two good-sized crates, and instructions. Within two days, we had five semi-wild kittens in our living room, eating, meowing, and pooping in pretty much that order.

Now what? I contacted a few other agencies, including the wonderful folks at Whiskers and Guilderhaven.

Next stop, the vet. Using a couple borrowed carriers, I managed to get all five to the vet for checkups, shots, and tests. We now had three crates, five cats, medications, and enough cat food to feed them for awhile.

Then I got a call from the vet that they needed more meds over the following week. That equaled two syringes full of icky tasting liquid per cat per day. Seriously. After an insane session of holding struggling cats, and watching meds fly everywhere (it was very fetching as a hair product), we started mixing it in with food, which mostly worked.

Then began the daily insanity of taking care of Caramel, Nibbler, Lemon, Harry, and Demon Kitty for almost two months. It literally took from Nov. 5 until almost Jan. 1 before the final kitty was adopted/fostered and we were left with the two I already mentioned.

The house is now free of crates, we’re down to one litter box, and there seem to be cat toys everywhere I look. I think cat toys must breed and multiply at night.

This is not my first rodeo. I’ve had a cat or two in my past, but never mildly domesticated kittens. To these guys, each and every object in the house is either for playing with, scratching, biting, or eating (including the aforementioned dog).

They climb better than mountain goats with crampons and eat like starving hyenas. They’re rather comical, very strange, and have the same number of mood swings as a menopausal human woman.

So now, three months after the initial discovery with two more mouths to feed, I realize that no good deed goes unpunished.

If we had to do it over again, would we? Knowing what we do now? Not likely. But, thanks to the fine folks who helped us, all the kitties are safe and warm, healthy, and out of the cold.

So that’s what we’ve been up to for the past couple of months. Nibbler and Lemon are nice people and once they and Minnie reach some sort of agreement on sharing territory, I think things will be OK. In the future, we’ll be leaving animal rescue to professionals or people far crazier than we are.

Editor’s note: Mike Seinberg, a lifelong dog fan and animal lover in general, says, as a rule, he prefers animals to people.

He recommends to everyone who can, to support Happy Cat, Guilderhaven, and Whiskers either financially, as a volunteer or by adopting an animal, and says these are great organizations run by dedicated people trying to do the right thing.