Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Kitten in our Campsite

It's hot. We were bored. On a whim, we crammed everything needed for a three day reconnaissance mission to the nearest campground with swimming access. I'm still covered in strange bug bites but this trip to the mountains was much less stressful. Of course this is because we didn't see a single black bear. (Although my son overheard a conversation in the visitor's center that hinted of their presence in the area.) What we did find was a stray kitten. I didn't take a picture of it, but now wish I had. Each day came with the sounds of loud meowing. On the day before we had to leave, the little buff colored kitten summoned the courage to enter our camp and take gulps of some milk and hot dogs we had placed near our picnic table. On closer inspection, we realized that he was severely malnourished, full of worms and fleas. Our six year old son fell instantly in love with him. We decided that since the campground officials knew he was there but chose to ignore him that we would try to find him a proper home.

How many people take a weekend camping trip and end up bathing a stray cat? This is exactly what we did. I filled a dish pan with warm soapy water while hubs firmly held the furry bag of bones. We scrubbed, drowned as many fleas as possible, cleaned out the ear mites and applied antiseptic to the raw areas where the fleas had done the most damage. Finally, we were blessed with the peace and quiet that comes with a satisfied baby. He spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on a towel in our son's lap.

Sadly, on the morning we were scheduled to leave, it rained. Having left the poor thing to sleep outside of the tent (we were still worried about the tiniest flea), he left to find a safe sleeping spot somewhere in the woods. In vain, our heartbroken son called to him in the morning downpour. We all secretly hoped that the kitten would show up just before we were driving away. But it was not meant to be. We left with heavy hearts but hopeful that the next camper would find it. I wasn't so sure. People are afraid of things like the idea of rabies and other diseases that stray animals carry.

This was not a feral cat; someone had simply dropped him off to survive in the wild. We are left with not knowing the rest of his survival story.

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