When a kitten meows mournfully outside my window, or from a tree in the yard, I’m putty in its paws. My nurturing heart races to find the source of the wail. The kitten knows its spell over me, staring at me with those wide innocent eyes, that sweet little chin full of whiskers, and for the final touch opens its mouth and produces a silent meow.
I’m a goner.
For years all I’ve wanted to do is rescue the little creature. Recently, though, through a painful, personal experience, I’ve learned that’s not the best idea.
My son adopted two kittens, a brother and sister pair, and made them part of his life. The kittens were inseparable, offering lots of laughter as they chased each other and tumbled on the floor playing. The female claimed my son’s lap as her favorite spot, contentedly spending her evening there as he worked at the computer.
As they grew, the kittens begged to go outside. My son would take them out for short forays in the sun, always keeping an eye on their whereabouts. Happy to have time outside they would come in spent and find their bed.
One afternoon, the kittens were outside playing. My son had to run an errand so he left them in the yard. He was gone an hour, but when he returned the female kitten had disappeared. A friend recommended the lost and found animals network in our area to help. On their advice, my son went door to door with flyers. Posters adorned all the telephone poles within a two block radius. The network said cats usually don’t go far from home—dogs are the ones who wander. He ran two ads on the network website and visited every veterinary clinic and pet store around.
We prayed. We cried. We called all the local shelters. But the truth remained. His little lost girl was gone.
I knew what probably happened. As I had done in the past, someone may have heard her crying, successfully captured her, and when they picked her up she purred. They too succumbed to her charms. A sweetie, she meowed for food. They fed her, never thinking she might belong somewhere else or unsure how to find her owner.
Isn’t that I would have done? Before my heart was broken? Before this happened to me? It was a difficult lesson to learn.
Never assume a crying kitten is a stray. She may belong to someone who is desperately missing her. Is crying over her loss. Wants to see her again.