Three years ago about this time, a storm named Ike was churning in the Atlantic Ocean. There was speculation that it would likely hit the South Florida coastlines. Since hurricanes give you time to prepare as they toil in the warm waters, I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. After all, I was a seasoned veteran to hurricanes and their aftermath after the 2005 season. Or so I thought.
On September 3, 2008, the squalls from the storm were dropping quite a bit of rain in our area. Since we anticipated that it would only get worse, it was time to check the yard for things that could become projectiles in hurricane force winds. My husband and son were outside near the shed in the back yard when the hubby swore he heard a bird chirping under the shed. After looking to find out where the noise was coming from, he finally located it. There, between two landscaping pavers, in a spot no bigger than four inches wide was a tiny scrap of soaking wet fur. Still thinking it was a bird he went closer and invited my son over to see it, only to discover it wasn’t a bird chirping after all.
It was a kitten. Eyes still closed, ears still shut, the umbilical stump still quite red as it couldn’t have been long gone. Lying in a puddle of water, shivering and mewing pitifully for it’s mother. My son picked it up and brought it inside to show me. I was amazed that it was alive. I grabbed a hand towel, dried it off as best as possible, tucked it inside my bra to warm it and then went through my neighborhood looking to see if anyone’s cat had recently had kittens. No luck. Since I lived in a fairly rural area at the time, I knew there were many feral cats in our community. If this poor thing was going to have a chance, it was left up to me to help it along. Problem was.. my husband was NOT a fan of cats. In fact, he was borderline scared of cats thanks to his mother passing along her fear of them. He wanted me to take it to the shelter but I couldn’t. With a storm coming, there would likely be an influx of animals brought in as well as the shelter being short staffed during a hurricane. I had to do it.
I called my dog’s vet and also got some very good advice from friends on a message board I was a member of at the time. I went to a pet supply place and bought kitten milk and bottles that were made especially for tiny critters. I even bought Pedialyte since I had no idea how long it had been since it had been fed. I suspected that it could be dehydrated and thought fluids would be best to start with. I was scared. Scared for me and scared for that poor kitten. The vet had told me that it had a less than 5% chance of survival. The odds were certainly stacked against a good outcome. Since the majority of failure is the lack of trying, I had to at least try.
The first feeding went pretty well. I learned that I not only had to feed it, I had to stimulate it to go to the bathroom! When I figured it out and had my shirt sleeve wet from cat urine, I knew that I was now this cat’s Mommy. Since it was so young, there was no way to determine if it was a boy or a girl but we decided to call it IKE after the hurricane, since that is what brought it to us. My son helped me take care of it and it was just like having a newborn baby again. I hadn’t done that in 18 years and the feedings every two or three hours were taking a toll on me but it was working. It was growing and thriving and SURVIVING. After a couple of weeks, it started trying to move around and crawl in the box I had set up for it. If it was cold, it would find it’s way to the end that had a heating pad underneath. If it got too warm, it crawled to the other end to cool down. It’s eyes opened and it’s ears started to unfold and open to the world’s sounds.
I took it to the vet’s office and they were amazed to see it was still alive. They sexed it and we discovered that we wouldn’t have to call it anything other than IKE as it was a boy! He was thriving, growing and making me smile every day. The hubby still wasn’t too pleased with the idea of a cat but it seemed that IKE instinctively knew that he needed to win over the hubby’s affections if he was going to stay.
IKE grew bigger and bigger and the antics of a kitten are just too hard to resist. Bob started softening, especially when IKE would cuddle up next to him and lick his hands. He was able to go to the bathroom unassisted after a while and learned how to use the litter box with very little training. He was playful and even though the dog wasn’t happy about a kitten being around, she tolerated him. She was old and used to being an only pet. She decided to just give the invader some space. Lots of space. 😀
IKE was a part of the family. There was no way he was going anywhere. Three years have now passed and during that time we lost our beloved dog of 15 years, found a place in our hearts to bring in another dog, adopted another cat to keep IKE company named Opie Taylor and we’ve also found room in our home for a displaced cat of a friend down on her luck. We have a lot of fur in our house.. and I love it. Hurricane IKE is still going strong three years later and my husband has now resigned himself to be labeled as a cat lover. Bless his heart.