It began like every other day at the public library—mountains of books and DVDs to be processed, account and computer questions to be answered, perhaps a few books to recommend. But when a frazzled mom pushing a stroller rushed in with a story about a a cat stuck stuck in a hole outside, we knew the day would be far from ordinary. The woman said this cat seemed hungry, and she’d dropped a hot dog through the metal grate for it to eat (because we all carry spare hot dogs, right?). A staffer walked outside to investigate, and sure enough, a tiny calico kitten’s cries echoed from deep within a storm drain—only feet from the busy eight-lane road.
Being trained library professionals—(don’t snicker, it’s not polite)—we embarked on an urgent research project: who to call to rescue this helpless stray? Animal control? Nope. They said they didn’t “do” storm drains. The city’s sewage and water department? No, we were just outside the city line. The police? The fire department? I firmly stated that the fire department did NOT rescue kittens. My father is a retired fire chief, and he always said firemen never actually rescued cats from trees. Someone called anyway. And five minutes later, the ladder truck rolled into the parking lot, lights off, but ready to help. I was delighted to be proven wrong.
The firemen lifted the metal drain cover, broke out their ladder, and rescued the kitten in just a few minutes.
And then we had a kitten. In the middle of the day. At the library. A very hungry, scared, and exhausted kitten.
We whisked our new buddy to the back room so we could figure out what the hell to do with it. Excuse me—what to do with her—as she was a stinking adorable calico. But the name one staffer bestowed upon
him her would stand: Benedict Cumberkitty. She was also rather acrobatic and could scale a box and escape in less than two seconds, even with the lid on. Not so great in a public building.
You’d think five computer savvy library employees would be able find a home for one little kitten in a jiffy, right? We called at least six animal rescues, a dozen vets, relatives, roommates, everyone we could think of—no one wanted a kitten—including one of our leads, who wanted Benedict Cumberkitty out.
My idea for a token library cat à la Dewey didn’t fly.
By now Cumberkitty had inhaled a dish of food and was purring in our arms as we passed her around. Since none of us wanted to drop her at the Humane Society, we worked out an impromptu fix: since I’d be leaving work first, I’d deliver her to another staffer’s home, and he’d care for her overnight. (That staffer happens to look just like My Cat from Hell’s Jackson Galaxy—how apropos.) Between all of the Facebook pleas and connections, hopefully one of us would find a safe, permanent home for her.
Even though Cumberkitty was about the cutest thing you can imagine, I was not looking forwards to an hour in the car with a crying, malnourished kitten just yanking at my heartstrings. And I knew as soon as my son caught a glance of Cumberkitty he’d turn on those puppy dog eyes, BEG, plead, and try every irrational reason his clever 11-year-old brain could devise to keep her. The hubby would simply say “awwww…” and melt, and I’d have to be the evil, RATIONAL one and repeatedly explain why we couldn’t keep her. (Something to do with already having two psychotic, allergy-ridden, territorial, often bitchy cats who’ve been racking up several hundred dollars in vet bills a month lately, but why let reason speak?)
Minuets before I was to walk out the door with her, fate intervened. A mom and her young daughter had spotted Cumberkitty’s adorable Facebook mug as it made the rounds. They’d hurried to the library to see if she was still in need. The mom told us they’d just had to put to sleep their own beloved cat of twenty years that morning. They’d suffered though a horrible day—but when she’d seen the post she’d though it was meant to be. I knew as soon as the little girl snuggled up with Cumberkitty it was a done deal. She clutched the kitten tight and kissed her, and her blonde curls shook as she began to cry.
So did we—well, at least my eyes got teary.
I was thankful Cumberkitty had found a home. I was thankful our “brave” firefighters proved they could be heroes to even the tiniest of creatures. I was thankful the power of social media could be harnessed for good. I was thankful a heartbroken little girl had found a new love. And I was thankful my heart felt it had swelled a few sizes that day.
Be thankful. Be grateful. Be kind. Be good.