Someone abandoned five kittens in the laundry of Building 8 in Hillcrest, in Hollywood, Fl., this fall. A woman, someone I identify as being an "animal lover" in the good sense of the word, not its pejorative usage, took them to her condo in Building 10. She spent a lot of money, with the financial assistance of some concerned neighbors, to nurse them and raise them and get them medical care until she could find homes for those who survived their ordeal.
One kitten was an orange lad. He was named Oliver by the animal hospital that examined him and put him to rest due to a birth defect. A second baby, a tuxedo girl, died, apparently from Fading Kitten Syndrome, according to the same veterinary hospital. A brother, later named Taz for his devilish ways, laid on top of her to keep her warm. Taz is sweet and lively, as is his sister, Norma Jean. The third surviving cat, an orange guy with a big appetite, found a home with a Hillcrest unit owner, as did Taz and Norma Jean.
Norma Jean lives with me, in Building 10, where I care for my 93-year-old father when he is not at Memorial Hospital or a local nursing home, as he is as of this writing. Norma Jean is a fitting name for the baby girl cat. She is cute and playful, and very, very pretty. The animal lover suggested the name, knowing 10 pictures of Marilyn Monroe adorn the condo apartment that I share with my father, who obviously loves Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jean.
But this is also a story about the animal-lover who nursed them from about a week old. We suspect they were very young because most did not have their eyes open when they were found, either ditched by their mother or an uncaring human critter.
The woman invested her money to buy them cat milk, and wet and dry cat food. She fed them milk for weeks from a small bottle. She did this early in the morning before she left for work. And throughout the evening, when she returned from her job. The animal lover also played a nurse on weekends, when the frisky young things demanded lots of feeding and attention. They enjoyed the toys she gave them and learned to play with her four grown cats, who were also strays.
I'm writing this story because the abandoned kittens have given me great joy, especially Norma Jean, who just crawled up my leg and jumped onto the desk that I'm using to write this article on a laptop. She gets into everything at about 10 or 11 weeks of age. Initially, my two grown, abandoned cats deployed their cat instincts to tell Norma Jean to keep her distance. Now they play, sometimes rough, sometimes they chase one another, but they play. They are learning to share human attention in the condo apartment we all call home.
I'm also writing this article because it is easy for some people to mock and condemn "tree huggers" and "animal lovers" and other people who don't meet our expectations. We may see them as a strange breed that creates problems.
And maybe they do cause "problems" to the extent that they really care, and are willing to demonstrate their concern in a variety of ways. In a busy world, a fast-moving world, a disposable world, that is not always such a bad thing.
Steve Schneider lives in Hollywood, Fl. He thinks registering and voting should be easy and convenient for everyone. He started a Substack newsletter, What's Going On, on Christmas Day, 2020.