Rico, the Feral Kitten that Won the Lottery

Just 8 days ago my love presented me with a kitten for my birthday.  She didn’t have to spend much time shopping.  He was found at a monthly spay & neuter clinic that we both work at.   Many times feral animals are trapped and brought in for this minor surgery so as to keep the hungry and starving population down to a minimum.  There are always cats and kittens, dogs and puppies, available for adoption.  And many are adopted, but more are not.  Rico was one of the lucky ones.  He won the lottery.

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It didn’t take long for him to irreversibly worm his way into our hearts.  Maybe a few hours.  He came to us with a couple of good-sized wounds on his head and throat, probably from other, bigger cats.  The little guy we brought home was maybe 5 wks old and 3 lbs or so.

He loved to eat, every few hours suited him admirably.  And did he woof it down!  Reminded us of another cat we rescued 4 years ago as a starving kitten.  Cinco could not and still cannot get enough to eat.    Rico needs to constantly look back over his shoulder when eating.  A lesson learned no doubt in the feral cat community.  There was always some bigger guy looking to take over what he had.

Late morning today my lady commented that Rico must be growing up.  He’s not in her lap or otherwise right at her side as he usually is.  We thought little of it.  A couple hours later we realized he hadn’t made his presence known for a while.  Surely he must be hungry by now.  We called and got no response.  We called again and got no response.  He ALWAYS responds when we call as invariably that means food is at hand.  But he didn’t answer.  We looked all over the house and couldn’t find him.  I began to think the worst.  Many years ago a young kitten that we had taken in managed to kill himself in a most freakish accident.  I’m fearing the same thing again.  Rico is NEVER quiet for long.  I began pulling out and looking behind electrical appliances.  Refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry room appliances.  No Rico. Pulled apart the couches, recliner, furniture.  No Rico.  We did this not once but MULTIPLE times.  No Rico.

My love realized that the sliding window above the kitchen sink was open just a bit.  This was a new arrangement for the “big” cats when we brought Rico home.  Up to then we left one of the sliding doors open for their happy ingress and egress.  But I never saw Rico even up on the kitchen counters much less near the open sink window.  Still, my gut told me that if he was still in the house he was somehow dead.

We went outside in a light drizzle looking and calling.  Calling and looking.  I knew our only realistic chance was to lead him into answering our call.  He always did that readily.  We live on the edge of a rain forest.  A jungle if you will.  We never realized how many sounds came from the surrounding woods that COULD be, MIGHT be, a cat.  But they always disappeared before we could track them down.

We came back in the house and repeated the search procedure we’d done already several times before.  Then we went outside and repeated that search procedure, covering our entire perimeter and beyond.  No Rico.  We were both just sick, almost physically sick.  It had been fully 6 hours since we last saw him.

I went down the drive to do some gardening work with the added hope that I just might hear him meowing.  After maybe 20 minutes my lady called to me. “I have him!”

Could it be?  I thought not.  The poor woman is just imaging something she wants so dearly.  But when I got to the house, there was Rico in her arms.  She had been sitting in her favorite recliner when Rico just came sashaying up.  She has no idea where he was all that time but she was confident he hadn’t been outside.  He was clean and dry.

We will puzzle over this for a long time.  We repeatedly searched our home from top to bottom without success.  Where could he possibly have been?

Predictably, Rico was ravaged.  He ate with gusto the canned tuna we opened for him.

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