In the early
hours of the morning we were half-way through the alley route. As I pulled out
of one alley and prepared to swing into another, I saw the flashing blue lights
in my rear view mirror. I stopped at the curb and waited for the officer to approach
my window. Officers who know me and what I do usually don't turn on the blue lights,
so I was expecting the lecture about how I shouldn't be in the area and how dangerous
it is. But this officer knew me and put on the lights to be sure she didn't lose
me in the web of alleys we travel with a precision that comes from years of experience.
She wanted to show me two kittens she knew would be killed if they stayed in the
broken-down building where they were living. I followed her in my car as she drove
her cruiser to an abandoned house. We both got out of our cars and the officer
poionted to a hole in the back wall of the house as the place she had seen them.
She admitted that she loved cats and knew we would help these little ones. I told
her she was right.
In one week I discovered the building
was home not to two kittens, but to a family of five -- four kittens and their
mom. Although they wouldn't let me near them, I knew I was starting to gain their
trust because when I pulled up to the back of the house, all four kittens (about
6 to 8 weeks old) would jump out of the hole and run toward the car before stopping
to wait for mom. All of them tiger-striped, they would gather in anticipation
of the meal I put down for them. Soon I could begin working on getting this family
out of harm's way.
The next night I went to their alley
a little earlier than usual to give myself extra time -- I wanted to secure the
whole family in carriers I brought especially for them. No one would be left behind.
I turned the corner and pulled into the alley. My foot automatically jammed on
the brakes when I saw the giant heap of devastation that used to be home to the
little family. That quickly and without warning, the house was torn down. In its
place were wood planks, broken glass, hunks of cement, and a bulldozer still sitting
in the middle of it all, as if proud of its destructive accomplishment. I couldn't
I pulled to my usual place and gave
my usual call, just in case anyone survived. In my mind I could hear one of the
kittens -- he was a talker -- meowing loudly as he ran toward the feeding place.
The others always followed him, crossing back and forth in front of each other
with an eagerness that told me how hungry they were and how glad they were to
hear my voice. That night all I heard was dead silence.
Ican't imagine the fear they must
have felt when the crashing started, the terror of not knowing what was happening
or what to do as their home came down on top of them. Even if mom could have escaped
I know she wouldn't have left her babies; she always kept them in her sight and
protected them as any loving mother guards the lives of her children. I can only
hope the end was fast.
I still go back there and call and
wait, sometimes I leave food even though I know better. I remember their tiny
faces peeking out of the hole in the wall, I see them running toward me and I
hear their kitten cries as they gather at the feeding spot with mom behind them,
all ready to eat.