On February 15 2019, in the evening and snow, I went out to pick up a pair of two-day old kittens. Which makes today their one-year birthday.
There is a post up at CCI with a general update, as I usually write them. What I don’t say is how both boys absolutely saved me. Losing Gus was beyond devastating–it was traumatizing, something that has stayed with me ever since. Shawn’s birthday is bittersweet because his brother should be here too.
Gus was a bit fluffier than Shawn, and I think he would’ve had slightly longer hair, and with a big ruff around his neck. He’d be more slender, maybe a little taller. He’d’ve found a way onto the kitchen cabinets by four months old and baffled Shawn, who would of course have assumed his brother went missing. There would be hundreds of new photos continuing to chronicle his growth, and everyone would be amazed that a 57g premie neonate–half the weight a kitten his age should’ve been–would grow to such a beautiful big cat. He’d be just as clingy with me as Shawn is, and I’d somehow have to share my pillow with twenty pounds of cat instead of the current eleven. And I would sleep better, because I wouldn’t have the memory him struggling to breathe in an oxygen tent while that heart, too big for his body and this world, was failing.
So today we celebrated Shawn’s one-year birthday. I picked up presents from his Twitter friends, and he got new toys from me. He got to have kitten milk as a treat and ate canned food all day. He’s so spoiled as it is, he has no idea today is anything other than a regular day. But it’s impossible for me to forget that Gus was that perfect wave that returned to the ocean too soon, and I miss him tremendously.
Shawn is the best-natured cat (I keep wanting to call him kitten, but he’s a grownup now) anyone could ask for and my constant companion, the absolute light of my life. He’s not very good at catting, but he has an amazing understanding of human vocabulary and gestures. He’s trusting (except when I trim his claws) and codependent and absolutely perfect.
His survival is a miracle and some days I think I am only breathing myself because I have him at my side. Gus should also be turning one year today, but I am never not grateful to still have Shawnie.
So many kittens could have the chance to be a Shawn for someone like me if they had caregivers who knew how to raise orphaned neonates. Please, in honor of him and Gus, consider fostering for your local shelter or rescue, and offer neonatal supplies that are crucial to a kitten’s survival.