Years ago I worked with a lovely woman who worked in our accounting department. To look at her, she was the poster child for what I always imagine people who work in accounting to be like: She was mild-mannered, unassuming, and kind of, well, beige.
She wore her hair back in a very tight bun and never met a cardigan she didn’t love. Especially if they were beige. She lived up to the stereotype quite nicely. Or so I thought. It wasn’t until I actually got to know her that I found she was anything but beige.
Randomly one evening, a friend invited me to attend a comedy show at the Laugh Factory. I was shocked when she came up on stage and did a set. She rocked my world with her biting wit and gift for storytelling. She was completely hilarious.
But besides all that, I barely recognized her with her hair down, in jeans, a leather jacket, and thigh high boots. She looked like a Harley Davidson ad. It was amazing.
Nothing pleases me more than when people surprise me by completely going against stereotypes.
I was recently surprised again by a very nice gentleman who came to the shelter having just saved a newborn kitten. I was surprised by both the harrowing account he gave of how he saved this kitten, and his commitment to making sure this newborn had a fighting chance.
I apologize in advance for the rather graphic circumstances of this particular situation, but it’s kind of important to the story, so bear with me.
Manuel is a professional landscaper. Early one morning a couple of months ago, he was out working when he saw a coyote in the distance carrying something in its mouth. As he got closer, he noticed the coyote had captured a cat. As he got even closer, he saw something fall to the ground as the coyote walked off.
He ran over to find that the cat had literally delivered a kitten as it was being carried away. She must have been in active labor when the coyote found her. Unable to catch up with the coyote to try to save mama, he rushed to aid the newborn.
He scooped up the kitten, cleaned it off, and made sure it was breathing. Not knowing what to do next, he made a quick decision to bring the kitten to us. Our medical staff assessed her and made sure she was stable.
More than anything, the kitten was starving. Being born is hard work, after all. So our team quickly gave her formula. Seeing that Manuel was worried for the kitten, and obviously wanting to help, we talked him through how to bottle feed, and all the other basics of how to care for newborn kittens.
Since we don’t have the resources to care for kittens so young, we rely on our foster volunteers to step in and care for the bottle babies in the first critical weeks of life until they are old enough and strong enough to be vaccinated, spayed/neutered and placed for adoption.
We explained this to Manuel, and without hesitation he agreed to foster her. So we finished training him on care and husbandry, and stocked him up with the supplies he’d need to care for her properly. He knew he could call us anytime for medical support, so he felt more confident taking on the responsibility.
Throughout the next several weeks, this lovely gentleman, a “typical guy’s guy” who could best be described as the “strong, silent type,” turned into a big pile of mushy love over this tiny kitten. He took her everywhere he went. She went with him to his job sites where he would work, and every couple of hours he would check on her, make sure she was fed and comfortable.
So in love, in fact, Manuel was, he found he was far too bonded to his foster kitten to give her up. Proud of how far she’d come in those first weeks, he couldn’t fathom not having her with him permanently.
He adopted her on Friday.
Though her first moments were traumatic, and the loss of her mother tragic, this little miracle kitten escaped certain death and found a wonderful home with a man who’d clearly do anything to save her.
To look at Manuel, one would never assume he was the kind of guy to foster a newborn kitten. For that matter, he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would be particularly good at it. But he defied all stereotypes to save a life, and did it with tremendous care and compassion.
It just goes to show that truly any type of person can be a capable foster to young kittens in need. Our team of fosters come in all types from college students to wealthy attorneys and city officials. There really are no common denominators except for a palpable love for animals and a willingness to help.
And we need more of you. We haven’t even hit the peak of our busy season and we’re already overrun with kittens who need to be cared for until they are old enough to find permanent homes. If you have space in your home and your heart, please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our foster coordinators will talk you through the process and get you all set up. It’s important work, but more than that, it’s incredibly adorable work.