Last week I received a call from a friend. She was driving to work with her car windows down, enjoying the nice weather. As she approached a rural intersection, she heard a very faint "meow". She stopped, and listened intently. There it was again - "meow". She got out of her car and looked around. Her eyes landed on a wet cardboard box lying in the drainage ditch next to the road. As she got closer she could see the box was closed. Next to the box was a small black kitten, who went running into the brush as she approached. She opened the box and found two more kittens inside - one white and one gray. She realized that the family up the road - the one who had just removed the "free kittens" sign from their front yard - must have tired of waiting for new homes for these kittens. It had happened before, and would probably happen again. They had been left to die in a ditch next to the road. She gathered up the two kittens in the box, but no amount of coaxing would bring out the little black kitten from his newfound hiding spot in the brush. So she returned home with the two rescued kittens and placed them in a carrier with food and water.
When she called to tell me what happened, I immediately headed to the black kitten's last known location. I parked on the side of the road and began searching the area. Within five minutes I heard a faint meow, and less than five minutes after that I was able to spot the kitten. He was a cute little furball with a white spot on his chest and a serious look on his face. I climbed up through the brush toward him, thankful that I remembered to put on a sweatshirt to protect my arms from the thorns. I opened a can of cat food and attempted to coax him to me. Minutes passed, and our standoff continued. Finally I tired of the wait, and reached for him. He was less than six feet from me, hiding under some thick brush. He immediately bolted away from me, down the hill. I was blocked from following by the thorny underbrush. I headed back up and around the other side of the thicket. No sign of the kitten. I continued to circle the area, talking softly to the kitten and hoping that the smell of the canned food I had inadvertently spilled all over my arm would convince him to make his presence known. Five minutes passed - then ten. After fifteen minutes I began to fear that I would never find him. I peered through the bushes and vines but couldn't spot the small shape of a kitten hiding beneath the overgrowth. Finally I called another rescue volunteer who lived nearby. She immediately raced to the scene with a live trap, a small net, and more canned food. We discussed leaving the trap out to try to catch the kitten, but we were concerned that the kitten did not weigh enough to set off the trap. As we discussed the situation, my friend who found the kittens returned from work, ready to assist. We decided to try to catch the kitten one more time.
As we surrounded the area where the kitten was hiding, we finally spotted him! We carefully closed in, crawling through the undergrowth, ignoring the mud and burrs and thorns. There he was, just sitting there watching us. And then as we approached him, we noticed a movement. Another small black kitten was less than five feet from the kitten we were surrounding. There were two of them! Suddenly I was glad I hadn't caught the first kitten right away. We would never have known of this second kitten's presence and he would surely have died here alone. So there we were, trying to catch two small black kittens who wanted nothing to do with any of us. We would close in, then they would run. We would regroup and try again, and again they would run, always avoiding us. Finally we were able to get close enough and my friend reached out and scooped one up. After further attempts, the other kitten was caught in the same way. They were both placed in a cat carrier and taken to safety, to be reunited with their two littermates.
At the time of this picture, taken immediately after the rescue, none of the kittens were very happy about their situation. However they have since learned to enjoy a life filled with a lot of love and petting and playing and canned food. They are doing very well in their foster home and will soon be ready for adoption.