The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

Soft but not bleeding

This is for frigg.

A month or so ago, while walking with N, I heard a pitiful mewling coming from a ledge on a graded hillside fronting the road. I glanced over and saw a kitten, barely a few weeks old, cowering amidst the branches of a tenacious bush. Its eyes were almost completely gunked shut, and its ribs were visible as its lungs puffed with pathetic cries.

"I didn't want to see that!" I said and grabbed N by the arm, hustling her away from the scene of the crime. Crime because there is no way that the poor thing had gotten up there by itself, and I was hard pressed to believe that its mother had carried it to such a dangerous, unsheltered place. No. Someone wanted to be rid of it and had stuck it there.

N and I continued our walk, but the guilt monkey kept jumping on my shoulders and squeezing my heart.  I ignored it until I got home. I kept reminding myself that we cannot save every animal-in-danger here in Mayotte, else we'd be overrun. Still, I couldn't take the thought of it being abandoned there. 

Suddenly, I was hit by an inspiration. I could save it, clean it up a bit, feed it, and then take it to the CRA (the "jail" and police headquarters here in Petite Terre).  mana_trini is always telling me about people leaving animals there where his colleagues feed them and sometimes adopt them. There's also a tomcat that hangs around who mothers all the kittens who "find" their way to the CRA, so I was sure the kitten would be better off there than starving to death on a ledge or becoming the torture toy of bored/twisted Mahorais kids. 

Plan in mind and flashlight and basket in hand, I set off on my rescue mission. And the kitten was no longer on the ledge. I meowed a few times and was rewarded by hysteric mewling in the tangle of weeds at my feet. The kitten happily let me pick it up, but it was less happy to stay in the basket. Once in the car it clawed its way out and started scaling the back of the passenger seat, wailing all the while.

When I got it home and into the harsh glaring of the kitchen light, I knew I would have my work cut out for me to get the poor thing looking good enough that someone would want to adopt it. It had some kind of mange, missing patches of fur from its black and white coat; its eyes were gummed together; and it was crawling with fleas. However, neither J nor I wanted to keep it for the weeks/month it would take to get it looking cuddly enough to entice the goodhearted metro French who are already heavily solicited on the Save-the-Poor-Abandoned-Mistreated-Animals front. 

So I stuck to the plan. I gave it some pâté because it wouldn't drink milk. It was acting very sweet until N'djema snuck up on us and pounced on its back. She took its neck in her jaws and bunched up her body like she was going to eviscerate it. I had a devil of a time getting her to let the poor thing go. After that, it hid under the kitchen shelf, and I had to force it out for its clean-up session in the bathroom. The whole time, J just shook his head, watching me with the look that said, I know you are going to end up wanting to keep it.

But no, after cleaning off the worst of the grime and eye gunk, I took it to the CRA. Now, even though the police feed the cats that are abandoned there, they do not appreciate people using the CRA as an impromptu animal shelter. That's right. I couldn't just knock on the door and say, Here you go; have another kitten.

Nope, I had to sneak inside the first fence and cross the yard to leave the kitten at the gate leading to the offices, where it would have the best chance of being found and cared for.

With ultimate stealth, I slipped out of the car, taking care to leave it running for my quick get away, and cuddled the tiny kitten to my chest. After making sure no one was in the yard, I soft-footed it to the inner gate. As I neared my goal, a man came out of the shadows to my left. I spun on my heel and hurried away, trying not to look suspicious and praying the kitten wouldn't mewl. I mentally cursed my luck with each step away from the gate. I'd been made. And I'm not easily confused with the other inhabitants of the island. Someone was sure to connect the "new arrival" with my presence there at the CRA.  Fortunately though, I didn't know the guy, and I don't think he knew me.

I sat in my running car, parked behind a huge garbage bin, and mulled over my options.  Still convinced that the kitten would have its best chance there, I waited until the man went inside the jail. Waited until I was sure he wasn't coming back out again. Waited until I was afraid I'd waited too long.

This time I eschewed caution in favor of speed. I sprinted across the yard, gently pushed the kitten under the gate, and embracing suspicious tell-tale behavior, bolted back to my car, giggling with the adrenaline rush of my stupid cinema. Just what was mana_trini's wife doing skulking about the jail last night? Yep, I could hear the speculation already as my wheels spun in the gravel and I hightailed it away.

The next day, J heard his colleagues talking about how someone had left another kitten. It was all J could do to keep from laughing and admitting my part in it. The tom took the kitten under its wing paw, and enough people were concerned with its survival to ensure it put on some weight. J kept me updated on its progress, how it would romp around, how it was getting sleeker, how one day it was no longer there.

I hope that means it found a good home.
Tags: kitty, life in mayotte

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