On Monday, Jan. 23, I met Inkwell the kitten.
He had been brought in the door at the Daily Sun News by a customer who had just found him in the wheel well of a car in the parking lot. The kitten was completely black, hiding the motor oil in his fur, except for four very muddy feet.
I stroked the little guy's head for a bit, impressed by the sheer volume of his purring. He seemed extremely grateful to be inside, away from the cold and noise, the slush and snow and surrounded by appreciative humans.
The motor oil infusing his coat leaked onto our hands when we pet him. A towel was found to clean off his muddy feet.
A discussion ensued about what to do with him. Stray cats often don't have good lives, in this town or in any other. The odds are against them.
With the customer who brought him in wanting to leave, I finally, reluctantly, agreed to take charge of the little charmer and get him to a vet for a check-up. He purred dramatically even when I put him in a box. He was serene and calm in the vet's office, purring loud enough to hear from across the room.
He seemed fairly healthy once the vet saw him. Yeah, covered in toxic motor oil, but he wasn't licking it too much. I left him there for an exam and a wash, and returned after work to take him home.
The kitten, now dubbed Inkwell from the way he dripped black fluid at a newspaper office, settled into a bathroom while we ran an ad looking for his owner.
Over a week later, with no response, I think I've been adopted by a kitten.
I'm fortunate that I'm able to afford a cat (barely) and that nobody in my household is allergic. The choices for his fate otherwise would not have been wonderful.
There are shelters that would take him, but that's no life for a cat. His chances of being adopted are higher due to his young age, but "higher" doesn't mean he'd find a good home.
We have far too many cats in this area. My own neighborhood appears to have a colony of feral cats loose in it. I've seen the results of car versus kitten in our streets, and they aren't pretty. Unwanted cats are constantly being turned over to shelters. Many end up euthanized. Others are let loose to starve by cruel owners.
We can't stop the flood, but if everyone who adopted a cat would spay or neuter, we could stem it a bit. It breaks my heart to see irresponsible owners "getting rid" of kittens any way they can when neutering or spaying before kittens are even a thought is much less trouble all around.
There are programs to capture feral cats, spay or neuter them, and return them to their colonies. The action prevents more cats from moving in for a time, and slows the pace of reproduction. I'd like to see that program here.
For every lucky kitten like Inkwell that finds a forever home, there are a dozen more that won't live to adulthood, and more that will lead miserable and desperate lives.