Here Comes the Judge

This past Saturday, Sarah and I were on our own; Trever was at a train show and Abby was in Arkadelphia visiting her boyfriend.  We had plans just to hang out at home before going over to my mom’s as usual on Saturday evening. But not long after I got up, I got a text from Mama: he was back. “He” was a tiny gray tabby kitten that Mama had found under her car in the driveway on Friday.  She fed him Friday morning but she didn’t see him again. Saturday morning, he had returned.  Again, she fed him, and my mind immediately turned to the kitten rescue I knew was imminent.

Hungry boy

Mama actually had toyed with the idea of trying to keep him, figuring that it might be good for Smokey to have another kitten/cat to play with. The first order of business would be to get him cleaned up; she had noticed some fleas and he was in need of a bath.  We headed over to her house where we sat out back on the deck with him for quite a while. He ate and drank well and we gave him more than one bath in the kitchen sink, after which we would bring him back outside and comb some more. (He was too small for a traditional flea treatment or shampoo so we tried everything from Dawn to coconut oil!)

Greasy after his coconut oil bath

The hope that Smokey would accept a sibling was short lived.  He not only hissed aggressively at the sight of the kitten, he would growl and hiss at us whenever we came near him. Obviously it would have been a long involved process to try and acclimate them to one another, but with Smokey’s, um, “high strung” personality, it would be too stressful for everyone involved.  Sarah became enamored with the thought of keeping him ourselves – bear in mind, we have three cats, three dogs, and a hamster.  We knew it wasn’t a good idea but she thought he might become a good companion for her aging cat Jack.  She even started calling him “Teddy” for the Theodore Laurence/Laurie character in Little Women. In the meantime, I started posting “free to good home” on social media.

It was a tiring day and Sarah and I finally went home – kitten in tow – sometime after dark.  We made only a minimal effort to introduce him to our pets before Sarah set him up in the bathroom. He was not a fan of alone time and I made sure I had earplugs handy for the night.

I slept in Sunday but Sarah got up early to take care of her charge. It had only taken one night for her to realize that this was going to be a foster, rather than a permanent, housing situation so I reached out to a contact with Maumelle Friends of the Animals who told me she would get back to me in the afternoon.  When I checked Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had posted that if they were local, they would take him. Had I already not had plans that day, I would have immediately hopped in the car and hit I-40 west toward Fort Smith.  Unfortunately, I had to drive to Arkadelphia to pick up Abby. After some coordination and messages back and forth, Audra said that their family would be happy to have him; soon, we had finalized plans for Operation Kitten Drop Off.

Abby was delighted that we still had Teddy when she got home Sunday evening, and she and Sarah alternated time in the bathroom with him. The only pet he was allowed to interact with was Lucy the very old wiener dog. She is both fascinated by kittens and relatively harmless as she has no teeth! He stayed in his bathroom abode, except for some trips out to watch TV wrapped in a blanket or towel, and both of the girls took great care of him while he was here.

Sarah and I set out Tuesday afternoon to drive to Fort Smith. It’s a little over a two hour drive, and the first 30 – 45 minutes were a bit stressful. We hadn’t brought a carrier since he was so small and could be easily held, but he was more than a little curious and nervous and it took him that long to settle down. We made it to his new home around 5:45 and were able to witness the surprise of two little girls getting a new pet! Teddy was rechristened Judge (long story!) and after a few minutes visiting, we turned around to make the trip eastward and home.

We hadn’t made it far when we got an update – a picture of Judge with his new girl. Junie is the same age Sarah was when she got her now fourteen year old Jack. I don’t think he has quite the same type of relationship with 2 1/2 year old Winnie – she just loves him with reckless abandon. I am so happy that he found such a great home with the Titsworths and hope they make lots of memories!

Karri Temple Brackett
August 29, 2021

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