One Wednesday, as my daughter and I drove to a barn where we volunteered, we sat at a red light, waiting to turn left. As we turned, we both saw a tiny kitten on the small rectangle of green in front of a local bagel store. Confused and crying, the kitten flirted with the idea of dashing into traffic.
“Mama, can we stop? Can we stop?” begged my daughter, as we passed the entrance to the bagel store.
My heart responded with a u-turn across the four (empty) lanes. But the kitten had disappeared. We got out of our car and searched near a culvert. We heard her crying, and found her crouched under a bush.
She ran from my daughter, across the path of a car leaving the parking lot. The driver, on a cell phone with windows rolled up, slowed enough to miss the kitten.
Still crying, the kitten climbed under one of the parked cars, climbing through framework towards the engine.
My daughter started looking for the owner of the car, while I went into the store to buy some milk. I couldn’t reach the kitten, but we poured some milk on the ground, hoping she’d come down. Several minutes passed. We weren’t able to connect with the car’s owner.
My daughter and I both expressed our fears that the kitten would bolt and run where we couldn’t catch her. In the stillness of a whispered prayer, I thought to smear the milk over my hand. I could just reach her tiny paw, and daubed it with milk.
Feeling the gritty asphalt underneath me, I continued to stretch my hand out to the kitten. I knew she’d be safe with us, but she didn’t; she had to decide to trust. I finally felt the kitten’s rough tongue lick my milky finger. She inched forward. Gaining a fresh mechanical perspective of a car’s engine, I pulled her over the last iron bar. My daughter quickly wrapped her burrito-style in a towel.
We borrowed a pet carrier from the barn staff, and took her to the vet that day. Covered with ticks and fleas, Tortilla Chipotle, about eight weeks old, had several torn pads, cuts and bruises. She stayed overnight at the vet for some treatment; then we took her home. Amidst some hissing and swatting, our other two cats, Frito and Leila, are starting to see Tortilla as a snuggle-n- play buddy.