--- Bring Him Home ---
What were we going to do? We had a sick kitten, family waiting in Tennessee and a plane flight home to California in 4 days. I called my son in Tennessee and said we had a “small” delay and we’re running a few hours behind…and by the way do you have a 24 hour animal hospital near you?
Next we drove to the nearest pet supply store and got a litter box, food, water, bowls, flea drops, flea comb, a couple toys. Mike rearranged our suitcases, workshop supplies and sketch bag in the back seat. I now had a litter box at my feet, food and water bowls on the floor…and an exhausted little creature searching the car for a place to…do his business! Obviously he didn’t know what a litter box was. Let’s say he caught on quick (I was only slightly soiled in the experience). Now we had windows open for fresh air, handy wipes for clean up and cruising down the road. A few miles down the road my son called with the number of an emergency animal clinic in his town. We had a new destination!
We arrived at the Knoxville Pet Emergency Clinic a couple hours later. I felt a huge sense of relief…we would have some answers. We filled out papers, gave them our payment info and sat in the waiting area. We were called into an examination room and a tech came in to take his vitals. She wasn’t the most gentle person and I could see he was afraid. When the tech left the room Mike bundled him up and restored the kitten’s sense of safety. About 15 minutes later the veterinarian, Christine Kline came in the examination room. She had a gentle manner, scratched his chin and got acquainted gently. We told her where we found him, our concerns, travel situation. She needed to do tests before we could discuss the future. She bundled him in a towel and took him to the back room for blood tests, dilate his damaged eye, an exam….and we waited.
|Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 10x8 tinted paper|
She estimated him at being 6 months old and very small for his age. There was good news and bad news. The good news: he did NOT have FeLeuk or FIV (cat diseases). There was hope for the little kitten! The bad news: he was dehydrated, had a respiratory infection, ear mites, fleas, laceration on his foot and permanently blind in his right eye. She followed up with…he’s a sweet kitten and will get better. We reminded her or our situation and living across the U.S. She gave us the name of a shelter in the area. Mike and I looked at each other and didn’t like the idea. We had already been down that path earlier in the day. If we found a place that would accept him it was very likely he would be euthanized. Who would want to adopt him in his current health? And we were getting attached. She asked if we wished to have him treated? We said yes. She wrote out 3 prescriptions: Drops for his ears, ointment to sooth his damaged eye and antibiotics for his respiratory infection.
We went to the waiting area to pay our bill and pick up his medicine. As we sat their Mike and I talked. We tried to make sense of the situation we had gotten ourselves into. The kitten was on our lap purring loudly and so very happy. We had one more question for the veterinarian. What paper work do we need to take the kitten home with us on the plane? She said it would take two weeks for him to be well enough to fly due to his respiratory infection. TWO WEEKS?!!!He would also need all his shots for the required health certificate. We had a flight to catch in four days and I had a workshop to teach in 10 days! I felt like we hit another road block.
All three of us got back in the car. I called the hotel and asked, are you pet friendly? The answer was yes. So we headed to the hotel, checked in, carried in our suitcases, litter box, cat food and a the kitten. I got cleaned up. too. Clean clothes felt good. We were half a day late but we arrived in time to have dinner with my son and family.
For the next three days we visited with family and took in the sights of Knoxville, TN: zoo, national park, downtown…but at night we returned to the little guy waiting for us. Each day he got stronger and stronger. The medicine was doing its work! The stronger he got the bigger his personality got…he was so cute!
There was a large uncomfortable question looming over us. What were we going to do when it came time to fly home? On the second morning Mike woke up and said, do you have a solution yet? I said no, do you? With a cute smile he said, yes. We’re gonna drive home.
All the sudden what looked like a problem became a new and wonderful adventure that would take us all the way across the United States with a little kitten in the back seat… Two days later we traded in our rental car for something more comfortable, loaded up our suitcases, litter box, cat food, dishes…and headed towards home. On this day I named him Boone…the city where the adventure began.
Part 3… The Long Road Home.
If you missed Part 1 click here