Meet Jasper (black) and Tater (Tots) (black and white). They were born August 30 to a homeless mother, and she disappeared September 15th. It had been about six weeks since my sweet old man Calvin had succumbed to kitty Alzheimer’s. Swishy, Jeff’s cat, is 100%, wholeheartedly, unreservedly…Jeff’s cat. She adores him. She has come to tolerate me, but no more. And who can blame her?! But, even understanding that, I was still left cat-less and mourning Calvin.
So, these guys came along as an answer to a prayer. With Jeff’s encouragement, I accepted the opportunity to develop a bond that can only come from bottle-feeding a kitten.
They had had their mama’s milk for about two weeks, which increased their chances of survival. But this was still a huge undertaking! At that age, kittens are totally dependent upon their caretaker. They need to eat every 2-4 hours, they need help going to the bathroom, they can’t regulate their own body temperature…their very lives were in my hands.
I had them with me at work at first, since they had to eat so frequently, but once they were mobile, I came home twice a day to feed them. We couldn’t travel, even short distances to go bird-watching, because by the time we got there, we would have had to turn around and go back home to feed! I bathed them each night, to keep them clean and keep the fleas at bay, since they were born outside and came to us with eggs already laid on their bodies, and they are too young for flea meds. And always, along with their physical needs, they need love and affection.
Sometimes they fight me, because they don’t understand what I’m doing and why it’s necessary for them. They don’t see that without the baths, the fleas would multiply and they would become anemic and ill. They don’t realize that when I put canned food in their mouths instead of the bottle, it is so they get the nutrients they need to survive once they outgrow the bottle. I smile at their frustrations at times, because it is so apparent to me what they need, even as the very fiber of their beings INSISTS they need what THEY think they need.
As they’ve grown, they have developed their own very distinct personalities. They take a bottle less frequently, use their litter pan on their own, and are learning to eat canned food. I help them some, but really, they have to learn these things themselves so they can be healthy, happy cats.
Oh, my goodness. So many parallels to our spiritual lives, aren’t there? And as much as I love Jasper and Tater, how much more does our Papa God love us and have the absolute best for us in his plans?