Acquired: Other (stray, given cat by friend etc.)
Posted Jun 09, 2015
Many years ago, I lived in a rundown residential section of Oakland, California. There were many renters in the neighborhood and some of them did not take their cats in to get "fixed".
My hippie-dippie next door neighbor Bob was just such a cat owner. He had several unfixed females who became pregnant and they all happened to give birth at about the same time.
A few weeks after the babies were born I noticed many of his mama cats hopping over the fence to my yard. The mama cats all carried kittens in their mouths. It was surreal.
I didn't know if Bob was out of town or what his status was so I put some dry cat food and water out on my porch. The cats continued to drop by my backyard. Sometimes they had a kitten in their mouth, sometimes they didn't. This went on for about a week.
Then, at about 6 AM that Saturday morning I heard a horrible noise and I ran out to the backyard. Over by an old brick bar-b-que I saw several mama cats striding around and an unknown amount of kittens. Something made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I turned around and noticed something gray behind a bush so I looked further. I saw a decapitated gray kitten lying on the ground.
"That's it," I said, running back into my house. I came back out with a laundry basket and scooped up fifteen tiny kittens and one mama cat and brought them inside.
Later that morning my partner and I brought the kittens to the vet and almost all of them were suffering from exposure and cat herpes. Most of them were very sick and some were blind because their eyes had filled up with herpes. One of them, a gray and white, with a white blaze on her nose, was very loud when we gave her her medicine. We named her Screamer. She was the smallest of the bunch and the vet said the one most likely to die.
Regardless of her prediction, the vet gave us a bunch of medicine and some kitty baby bottles and told us how to take care of the "patients". We did the best we could but still lost one, another gray and white, whom we had named Champion. Somehow, we were able to save the rest.
Our goal was to nurse them all back to health and then find them homes. We were able to do that with most of them but some of them were just too sick to give away. Screamer fell into that category. Her eyes were constantly gooey and her nose was permanently crusty.
But despite all of her travails, when Screamer got her health back a bit she was a playful and loving kitten. She loved everyone: all of the other kittens, all of our other grown cats and even a neighbor's visiting bunny that dropped by every now and then. But most of all she loved me. She always had a loud purr or a happy sounding, ringing meow whenever I got near her.
Throughout the eighteen years that I had Screamer the herpes attacked her many times. More than once various veterinarians told me she probably wouldn't make it, but she always did. It was only at the end, when she was too old to fight it any more that she finally died.
Even though she was never very healthy, she was always very loving. She was, without doubt, the best cat I ever had.