a few days before i left for america, i was at chris's site, i was still mourning for my loss of jamm rekk (still am) so it was rather exciting when chris's little brother came running up and telling us that there are kittens that are just like sacckat (chris's strange black and white runty cat) and would we want to go and see them? being the crazy cat lady that i am, of course i did and it turns out that the kittens were in chris's garden -- 4 tiny kittens meowing their heads off for their mother. they weren't at all like sacckat -- they were striped (or at least parts of them were) and they were absolutely adorable (that's not to say that sacckat isn't cute).
of course i cooed over them and a fuzzy little brown stripped one came tottering out from their hiding place straight into my hands. nothing gets me better than a kitten who chooses me. i immediately felt that i had to have him but it was terrible timing as i was leaving for america. considering the increased amount of foot traffic since the discovery of the kittens (seemed like all the kids of the town had come to see what was going on) there was a huge chance that the mommy cat would come and whisk them away to a new hiding place and i would once again be in a sad, lonely, catless world. a plan had to be hatched.
i called jc who had been wanting a kitten as well and gushed about the adorable kittens and did she want one? she said yes -- but the timing was bad, she would soon be going away for almost a month so there would be nobody to care for her kitten. being that she would leave when i got back i suggested we cat-sit for each other. it was a tempting offer and she agreed to it -- especially because there was a little grey striped one just for her -- but we still needed somebody to watch the cats for the week between my finding them and when she could get out of site again to pick them up. i began a desperate string of phone calls to see if anybody would cat-sit (failing to mention that they were extremely tiny and helpless) but everybody had a really good reason as to why they couldn't take 2 kittens under their care (especially with no particular incentive or reward). i called karim and offered him a kitten, which he heartily agreed to but then when i asked him if he would take 2 more for the week, he said, "oh no...3 kittens is way too much work." i was disappointed that i had now committed myself to 3 cats but only had a home for one of them. i was stressed out. finally, i called laura who was hesitant at first but then giggled and said, "sure! it'll be fun." i was elated and laura is a saint.
so operation kitty grab was in full gear and i went off to buy a bucket for cat transport and some food. as we came back to the compound we could hear the cats screaming. what was happening?? kids came running up to us telling us that the cats were crying and when we went over to see what was up, we realized that the poor things were smothered in ants! an anthill must have been knocked over or something and the ants were retaliating in anger on the kittens, swarming and biting. we grabbed the kittens and tried shaking and brushing off the ants but there were so many and cats were screaming, children were yelling, and everything felt chaotic. what was supposed to be a light and easy affair became a few minutes of crazy. it was dark by now so all i could see was whatever was in the beam of the flashlight -- a kitten covered in ants, a kid trying to get into the garden, the mom cat staring at us from under an eggplant bush. finally, we grabbed 3, leaving the runty one behind so to decrease his competition and i,prove his chances (i felt horrible about it but this was the justification), and ran into chris's room and put them in a big bucket. suddenly everything was calm again and we (cats and humans) were all exhausted from too much excitement.
the next point of worry was that now that we had them, i realized just how small they were and that perhaps it was too soon to take them from their mom. i felt awful -- in my attempt to help them i might have made things worse! though they ate some fish offered to them, they couldn't lap water out of a bowl and they suddenly seemed so small and helpless. i felt helpless too and was terribly worried that they wouldn't poo on their own. i'd seen a kitten die during PST from a failure to poo and it was a terrible sight and i didn't want to see it again. so i stressed all night about whether or not they could poo and told them that all i wanted for them was to poo (foreshadowing).
the morning following -- no poo and disappointment. nonetheless, it was time to bring them to kaolack to be picked up by laura in a day and a half. because they were so small it was pretty painless -- they sat in the bucket quite silently and caused no ruckus. we stopped by karim's who knows towns about kittens he told us that they were 2 weeks old and were still drinking milk but just about done. he gave us a bunch of advice, lunch, and after managing to feed them some milk with an eyedropper (after much coaxing) we left, depositing the kittens in the kaolack house bathtub and left for dakar.
long story short, they were picked up by laura, adored by everybody who passed through the house, brought to sokone, then back to kaolack for thanksgiving and turned over to jc, once again adored by everybody, fed some turkey and Takabski meat, got off of milk, and were still alive and kicking when i got back from america and jc turned them over to me. they -- especially mine -- suffered from diarrhea and pooped themselves a bunch of times (after all, i had begged them to poop) and suffered a bunch of traumatic baths. as they've gotten bigger, they've become more to manage -- they are demanding now and noisy and will scream until i cave into their demands. it's like having a child -- they must be fed and washed and trained and they live their lives in 3 hours cycles: play play play sleep wake pee eat play play play poo sleep wake poo play play play sleep and i have become inextricably bound to this cycle because when they wake they pounce and romp all over me and bite me and then they scream for food or poo on the floor so i must wake to take care o these things. it is a lot of work -- i've never had a kitten so young and it often makes me miss jammo and how easy it was to take care of her. but it's too late for regrets now, so wolfgang leviticus (mine) and rumi (jc's) remain here and have dominion over my life. like a real mom i now find joy in being able to lock them into the hut and run away and love them when they're sleeping and purring or playing with each other but really hate them as soon as they wake and beg for food. oh well, at least it's something to do during the dry season...