With apologies to Charles Dickens...
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I'm referring to two weeks in late April when Callie and Nellie came into our lives. Callie appears on the cover of our June catalog, which started arriving in mail boxes across the US yesterday. Callie may also be seen on page 50, sitting atop the gift box for our new Felines on a Fence commuter mug gift set. Callie and her adorable sister Nellie appear together on page 51, modeling the small version of our new Paw Print Pet Carrier. Early catalog recipient feedback indicates that we were not alone in thinking they're just about the cutest things ever. Here's their story. Don't worry, the ending is happy!
Last year, in spring 2016, my husband and I began seeing a calico cat with a bad leg around our house near Lake Springfield. We attempted to get close, with no luck. She was obviously feral. We started putting food out for her in an attempt to gain her trust. One day, there she was with an adorable kitten with white socks. He or she was already also feral. We continued to put food out and see them regularly but unfortunately, despite many attempts, we've been unable to trap them in a humane trip and get them spayed.
This spring, Mother Nature struck again and the feral calico deposited two babies in our neighbor's basement window light well. The neighbors asked our advice, knowing that we're cat people, and we offered to retrieve the kittens and take them to our veterinarian. We got them out of the window well on a rainy spring morning and headed immediately to his office, planning to leave them there to be spayed, before going to work. He pronounced them both to be girls, healthy, ready to be weaned, but too young to be spayed for quite some time. He said they were about 5 weeks old. They weighed a little over a pound each. They got a dose of wormer and their first shots, some baby kitten food and an appointment was set for the following week for more shots.
We knew we couldn't take them back to the window well. The vet confirmed our opinion that we had gotten them just in time before they became too independent to catch. We didn't want them to get away from us and become feral too. We also knew we couldn't take them to our house. We already have two adult cats and two adult dogs. So they came to live here, at the office and warehouse.
They stayed in Phil's office but I was in there many, many times a day, along with all of the other people working here. We all grew very attached, especially Phil and me. And that made us both sad because we knew we would have to give them up, and soon. We had no trouble, with their small size, keeping them inside a makeshift playpen in his office but they changed and grew very quickly. By the time they left us 2 weeks later, they were very close to being able to get out. With doors opening and closing all the time, being in an industrial park with lots of traffic, there was just no way they could have lived here much longer.
I took them to their appointment for their shots the following week. At that appointment, the vet's lead technician who we've known for years, said she would take them both. Her nine year old son had been asking for a kitten and she was quite taken, of course, with these two. I was so relieved! I called Phil and told him. I asked if I should leave them there with her or if he wanted me to bring them back so he could say goodbye. I was happy to hear him say to bring them back because I wasn't ready to say goodbye either. It was agreed that they would be with us for another week.
We spent the week playing with them a lot! We also took a lot of pictures and shot some video. The day before they were to go to their new home, we took them to my mom's house. Her home and garden have been the locations for many of our product shots. We tried for a very long time to get a shot of Callie and Nellie both in the African Market Basket on our cover. It was not to be. Both kittens were very curious about the great outdoors. The spaces underneath my mom's hostas were so much more interesting than the inside of the basket. We got a lot of good shots with one or the other, but none of both. We got a consensus from everyone in the office and decided on the shot of Callie that was snapped just before she leapt out for the umpteenth time to go chase her shadow or a leaf or a bug. It was a nice afternoon.
The next day Phil took them to the vet's office. But first I held them both and cried. I had gotten way too attached to them. The technician said that she hadn't told her son about them. She was afraid we would change our minds. I'm sure that that day will be one of her son's happiest memories of his childhood. I miss the little stinkers so much, but am so happy that they're together and will be spayed in a couple of months. We felt very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to meet and care for Callie and Nellie. It was a wonderful two weeks, and one very bittersweet day.
We still see their mama cat around the neighborhood and we continue to hope for an opportunity to get her spayed. Several of us make sure she's got food and a place to sleep. She's got a home too, on her terms. And lots of people who care about her safety.