by Kris Teague
(Truth or Consequences, NM)
It was a blistering cold & windy day in Junction, TX, Christmas Day 2008, about 14:30. I was heading back to Truth or Consequences, NM from Tallahassee, FL & had pulled off I-10 at a small convenience store in Junction to fill up w/petro.
After getting my fuel I parked in front of the store went back inside to get a bottle of water & some beef jerky. When I came back out of the store I noticed a small (what appeared to be a Calico) kitten sitting right under the front bumper of my Ford F-150 P/U.
“It” was pretty dirty looking & I suspected a stray looking for a handout from a nice customer. I told “it,” “You’ll have to move so I can get on down the road, don’t want to run over you.” The kitten (which I assumed to be a female & not more than 3 or 4 mos old) simply looked at me & softly “meowed.” I instantly felt the strings pull on my heart!
I needed to get back on the road to home & decided to go back into the store to see if they had any cat food on the shelf. There was one can left & I bought it intending to put it out & to lure the kitty from underneath the front of my truck.
The lady behind the counter asked, “Are you going to feed the kitty?” I replied, “Yes.” Then I asked the lady for the skinny on the kitty. She informed me that the kitty’s mother had had her litter somewhere in the brush out behind the store back in Aug of ’08, which put its current age at about four mos old & that “it” was the last of the bunch!
The lady told me that the kitty was not a problem never bothered customers; “it” simply would sit quietly outside the front door & if a person/customer offered a bit to eat “it” would accept.
The lady storekeeper also said that some male customers passing through would throw a bit of their food on the pavement for the kitty & when “it” ran for the morsel the male customer would kick at the kitty sometimes connecting & hurling “it” several feet away! The kitty would scurry off no doubt in pain from being kicked!
I processed this info & decided that this kitten if left on its own would, for the short duration of its life, be at risk for abuse/death from other animals as well it seems, from cruel human beings. I made a decision to rescue this kitten, take “it” to my home, begin its socialization in the hope that I could eventually find he or she a good loving home.
I put the cat food in a paper dish, sat the dish out in front of the store between the front door & the ice machine hoping to draw “it” out. The kitten scurried out from underneath the front bumper of my truck & onto the sidewalk, stumbled got up again & began to consume the cat food as if “it” had not eaten in days!
I allowed “it” to eat a bit then I bent down close to “it,” “it” shied a bit but allowed me to stroke its head, neck & back. I gently grasped “it” by the nap of its neck & picked “it” up. The kitten did not attempt to fight, scratch or bite me it simply went into the fetal position. I immediately looked to check its sex & as I had suspected she was a female!
I cuddled her close to me (she was very frightened), put her in my crew cab, closed the door & let her go. She scampered to the back of the cab & underneath the backseat. The lady at the store asked, “Are you going to give the kitty a good home?” I assured her the kitten would have the BEST of care & a safe loving home! I stopped in at Ft Stockton, TX, where there was a Walmart (providence you know a litter box w/clumping litter was needed!) as home in TorC, NM was several hrs away.
Somewhere between El Paso, TX & TorC, NM the kitten showed herself. She warily came around the front passenger seat. I made the mistake of making eye contact w/her. Even in the darkness of the cab she was skittish & darted up underneath the dash of my truck! I had just purchased my “new” truck a month before & was not at all happy about having the Ford dealer up the road from me in Socorro remove the dash (oh, the cost!!) to retrieve the scared/stuck kitten!
We arrived home at 2200. There was NO coaxing her out from under the dash. So, I left her in my truck w/a dish of water, a clean litter box & NO food, overnight. The next morning I went out to my truck opened the door; yep, she had in fact used the litter box, the aroma was “intoxicating” to say the least!
She was still secure underneath the dash though. I opened a can of tuna in water, placed a spoonful in a dish, placed the dish of tuna on the front driver side floor of the cab of my truck & shut the door. After about 10 mins I went out to my truck peeked through the passenger side dark window & voila; she was eating the tuna.
I quickly opened the front passenger door & it was a race but I snatched her by the nap of her neck & hung on! She screamed bloody murder! I mentally visualized all sorts of wiring underneath my dash being ripped out trying to retrieve this little girl!
Finally, she gave up & I got her out, held her close, spoke softly to her while reassuring her she wasn’t being attacked! Took her into my home & bathed her (what a pretty Calico-color).
Strangely, she had no fleas, ticks nor any earmites (I checked)! My other kitty (also a female & a rescue kitty), is sooooo docile, sweet, gentle & doesn’t know a stranger; she thinks everybody likes her! The two of them hit it off instantly (they are inseparable to date!).
Two days later I took the kitty in to the local vet for the once over/shots to include spaying. The kitty has come a LONG way in her socialization these past two yrs! I can now hold/pet her, she even comes & wants to be picked up/held. It’s been a series of small steps at her pace and has paid off. She’s absolutely fine w/me & my other kitty (trusts me explicitly), BUT when anyone else enters my home she hides. That’s our story!