January 12, 2017

Guest Column:  The lucky little kitten

Written with KEVIN McCABE

My name is Ramps, and I was born on the Outer Banks in Avon in late August of 2016. This is my sad but true story about the beginning of my life.

My poor mother was not someone's pet and nor were my brothers and sisters. We all had a very hard time surviving the first three weeks of our lives. Living under dark  houses or spending the night in the mosquito-infested marsh grass was the only home we had. Wherever our mom could carry us each day would become our home. Very little food and desperate conditions made me very unhappy and unhealthy -- unlike  pets with good intelligent owners.

I was mostly afraid of the barking dogs, but then came the dreadful  Labor Day Tropical Storm named Hermine. When the wind switched, the sound water rose rapidly and flooded everything. This is when my  brother and sister were the only two left -- along with me -- as our mom tragically lost some of us in the chaos. We climbed up and under anything we could find to avoid the rising water and all the worries below. The I-beam of a  big truck seemed to be a safe place to live for a while, but  it began to move one day without our mother!
The noise, the motor, the wind, and bumps were terrifying. We were going so fast and so far but to where? After 15 minutes we started to slow down and went down a bumpy, gravelly road over a high ramp onto a beach. There was a line of trucks in the front of us and behind us.

The new smells and sounds were petrifying as thousands of large hungry gulls sat looking. We were all shaking violently as the road turned into sand and the bouncing truck made it harder and harder to stay on. Nearly at the tip of Cape Point I made the decision to jump onto this desolate piece of sand. It nearly cost me my life. 
My four small paws hit the sand where few kittens have ever been. Seconds later, the man in the truck behind us watched the rear tire of the truck in front press me firmly into the sand. It flattened me all right and squeezed every bit of life-giving air out of my tiny lungs. I could not breathe. It hurt so much! My eyes, ears, nose, and mouth were stuffed with rough coarse sand. I didn't know where I was as I shook and wiggled in horrific pain. 

The man in the truck behind glanced over to see me  stretched out  on a rut three feet out of the tracks the trucks were driving in. He thought I was dead. I was called the "luckiest cat alive" by the next driver to come by. His name was Kevin, and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Sadly, at this same time, my brother was run over and killed as he too jumped from the bottom of the moving truck. A dog leaped from the bed of a pick-up and killed my sister when she jumped. I lost my mother, brother, and sister all in 15 minutes.
I couldn't move but managed to get out a small meow when Kevin's gentle hand first touched me. It was the first hand ever to touch me. He carefully brushed some of the loose sand off my face when he realized I was somehow still alive. As the brushed sand fell back onto Cape Point beach I was placed onto the front seat of his truck. 

The slower ride back through the sand was not as bumpy as I rode over the National Park Service access ramp numbered 43 once again but in a different direction. I know I was supposed to be one of those wild feral kittens, but I just sat quietly on the seat and meowed once in a while to make sure I was alive. I was also very thirsty, afraid, tired, and sore with no idea what was to be next in my short  little life that had been so hard.
We drove about 10 minutes to a house tucked into the woods, and I was greeted by another pair of friendly hands. Her name was Kim. She cleaned me up even more and feed me milk made just for kittens. I almost died twice the first night as she forced water mixed with the milk down my sandy throat. She petted my bad memories away and spoke kind words like I never heard before.

I learned earlier that day how to catch my breath and had to do it twice again that night to stay alive. Some of my pain began to slowly go away but I had other health issues  that were found when they took me to the veterinarian to get the sand out of my ears and eyes.

Living in the stressful conditions I did as a kitten is not very healthy. I had to take medicine for 40 days through an eye dropper to cure me from diseases kittens can get in the wild. I hated it every time they gave it to me, but it made me better. I'm now the healthiest kitten alive.
Today I'm 14 weeks old and so thankful my owners Kevin and Kim took me in to their home. They say they love me and that makes me purr loud. I'm very cute too. They also say I'm good when I'm good and bad when I'm bad whatever that means. All I know is they love me so much they brought a real tree in the house for me to play in this December. It even had lights and bright glass balls on it that I swatted and bit regularly.

Other people come over to see me and admire my gray stripes and spots.  Please don't  tell me to go to sleep when I want to play and vise versa.  I'm a kitten with a home now.

I learned today something is going to happen next month I might not like but has to be done. They call it spaying or neutering. It should happen to all cats and dogs that are household pets. It is so sad to see all the animal shelters filled with dogs and cats with no home or like I was -- no food, no love, or no hope.

The bottom line is there are just too many unwanted animals. People can simply reduce our numbers by getting their cats and dogs fixed. There are also groups out there that pay to have it done. Please pet owners, be responsible and do this. I got very lucky but so many other animals are not. Help reduce our population by simply getting us fixed.
Thank you, Christinia Hicks, at the Coastal Animal Hospital in Buxton for helping me.  The Friends of Felines in Avon at 252-995-4725 can help get us fixed at no cost. Please don't be lazy -- just call and get it done.   

(Kevin McCabe is a writer, fisherman, outdoorsman, animal lover and one of the founders of the Cape Hatteras Wounded Warrior Project. He and his wife, Kim Mosher, an artist and animal lover also, live in Buxton -- with Ramps, of course.)      

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