Kittenball Run

Some houses have names. Usually, they are big, grand houses with giant yards–which get called “gardens” because it makes them sound even fancier–and staff that wait on you hand and foot. 

Our apartment also has a name: The Cattrap Hotel and Day Spa. 

Gwyd was guest number 1. And no, he’s not checking out any time soon.

Ever since the pandemic started, we’ve had stray after stray come up to our back door. We don’t go looking for them, they just show up. Sometimes they stay. Sometimes we are able to get them back to their people. In every case they’ve needed medical attention and a little help that needs to come from someone with thumbs (like Ichabod, who was stuck in a dog collar so tight he couldn’t breathe or swallow correctly, or Hekate who had a bad case of mange). 

In February we had not one but TWO repeat visitors, which I guess means we’re doing okay on the hospitality front. 

The first, Freya, an extra spicy tabby, turned out to belong to our neighbors. We’re not going to talk about that one for reasons, the biggest one being that it still makes me mad to think about it. 

The second was this orange baby that we dubbed Apollo: 

Apollo is an intact male who loves ear rubs, belly rubs, reciting poetry and singing the songs of his people, and eating. 

The first time he came to us, we kept him overnight and then took him to the local shelter. Despite our burning desire to help local strays, our apartment is just too small for two humans, four cats, and a stray, particularly when one cat is FIV+ and another is extremely territorial and having behavior issues. We’ve been working with the RASKC for about two years at this point, and up until Apollo, never had a bad experience. 

When I dropped him off, my social conditioning had me smiling all the way through, but as soon as the door closed behind me I just stood there like, “What the hell just happened?” 

The person who checked him in was unnecessarily rough, treated me with suspicion, like she thought I was turning over one of our household pets and trying to be sneaky about it, and then said “Well, if you let them back out again they usually go home.” I had just handed her an extremely dehydrated, injured, underweight cat, and she wanted me to put him back outside in case he went home? What?

I placed a hold on him, which means that if his people didn’t claim him, I would get first dibs on adoption. I did this because as soon as I posted his photo online, a Ravelry friend claimed him. She was absolutely in love, so if he didn’t have a family waiting for him the plan was for me to pick him up and then arrange transport to her down in southern California. 

Everything was falling into place, but then about half an hour before closing the last day he was listed as “lost” and not “up for adoption,” someone came in and claimed him. 

We thought the story was over, but it wasn’t. Three weeks later, guess who showed up at our back door again? 

This time, he was even worse for wear: Skinnier than before, with scratches all over his face. His notched ear was torn, and we found two big bite marks on his shoulder and chest. He practically jumped into Ash’s arms as soon as she opened the door.

We immediately got into triage mode. His injuries looked a couple of days old and didn’t show any signs of infection, so we cleaned them with water and gave him a wipe down with a rag. He’d been treated for fleas and worms at the shelter, so thankfully we didn’t have to worry about that. We provided him with wet and dry food and plenty of water, and a warm bed in the bathroom, since that’s the only room where we can isolate him from the other cats. 

I contacted his would-be adoptor, who was still interested. We looked up vet appointments, and got him in as soon as possible. He was given a rabies vaccine, some medication in case there was pain from his injuries, and an otherwise clean bill of health with a caveat that we watch for the development of abscesses. 

Paperwork in hand, I went back to the internet and set up what we call a “Kittenball” on Ravelry–the relay transport of cats (or dogs, or occasionally people, looms, and spinning wheels) to new homes, often thousands of miles away. 

While we waited for volunteers to sign up–and they did!–we spoiled him absolutely rotten with new toys, a collar, harness, treats, and all the love and affection he deserved and clearly didn’t get. He didn’t have a microchip, thank goodness. There was no way I was handing him back to the “family” who let him get into such bad shape. 

I took the first leg, bundling Apollo and his little bag of luggage into the car and setting off. 

At first he hid in the carrier, but like the true child of a millennial, when Evanescence came on the radio his head popped up and he came out, crawling into my lap. And there he stayed, for two hours. We cuddled all the way to Portland. Occasionally he’d raise up to look out the window, but then always settled back down in my lap, deciding the scenery was nothing worth note. As we crossed the Columbia River, though, he climbed on my shoulder and found that VERY exciting. 

We arrived at our meeting point and while we waited for the next driver in the relay, I clipped on his lead and opened the door so we could both stretch our legs, thinking he might want to sniff around a little. 

It turns out, that idea was a solid NO from him. He crouched, he cowered, then he looked at me, sat back on his haunches, and raised his front paws for me to pick him up and take him back to the car. Poor baby has clearly had enough of the great outdoors. When we got back to the car, he hid under the front seat and refused to come out until it was time to transfer to the next vehicle. Pretty sure he was happy to be rid of me at that point!

Apollo has now made it all the way to his new home in Southern California, where he is enjoying being an only cat and getting all the love and snacks he can handle–and not going outside at all. Very soon he’ll get his neuter and microchip, and will live out the rest of his life in the spoiled state he absolutely deserves.