Lee, Larry, Leon and Lyle. And Kirk…

Apologies for the radio silence over the last two months, but with Mama Su and the crew redlining kitten season, trading my litter scoop for a rocks glass and heading off to write is like ordering the crew ‘round the Horn in a storm and heading below for a nap. Not wanting “perished, of mutiny” in my obituary, I’ve focused on litter and laundry and suffered the craziness of what we do rattling around in my head like a nickel loose in the dryer. But a few days back I had the cover of a flight delay…
It's been a busy 60 days. One of us turned 60, two of us had the ‘rona and all of us have been run ragged. The overwhelming story? Kittens. The garages? Kittens. Guest house? Kittens. Laundry room, dining room and upstairs bath? “Do NOT open that door!” We’ve got litters with moms and ones without, bottle babies and self-feeders, hissers and lovebugs, tripods and pirates and one tiny blind tabby who purrs like a motorboat with you open her kennel door. And that’s just onsite.
While a couple hundred kittens tumbling around sounds pretty darn awesome, the furry flood has tested the limits of the crew and has Mama Su throwing me stink eye every time I pick up my phone. But a few days back a tag about kittens on the roof of a boarded-up house seemed on brand, so I figured I’d slip out from work and cross the “Where we gonna put ‘em?” bridge once I had better intel. And can you really have too many kittens? Come on.
Heading to the address given, I convinced the poster that the suit in her front yard wasn’t a bill collector or worse and she emerged relieved to point out two little ones she’d netted and two others still up on the roof. The backstory? Mom had the litter in the abandoned attic, died in street a few days back and the orphans were stumbling around the hot roof looking ragged. I geared up in my head and told the finder I’d be back.
Back home I discovered there’s no quiet way to load a ladder into a truck, and with me banging around in the driveway, Mama Su had questions. ‘What’s with the ladder? ‘Work stuff?’ With cat traps?” No match for her waterboarding, I blurted out something close to the truth, and was startled when she agreed to ride shotgun. “I’m just going so you don’t get robbed.” Tacit approval…perfect!
It was dark when we got to the site—again on brand—but Su soon spotted two sets of eyes from the roof and ordered me to action. “The ladder! Go! Go!” Su’s no fan of heights, but these were kittens, in distress, so she pushed past me as I held the ladder steady, used my shoulder as a top step—“Whoa, whoa…the suit!”—and rolled up onto the roof.
Uh, no. One look at a wild-eyed Korean in an “I like dogs and wine” t-shirt coming at them on all fours, and the little ones shot back into the attic through the broken window. Ok, now what?
Peering through the glass, Su spotted the little punks in the gloom, concluded that pursuit through the rafters had crashing through the ceiling downside and set a trap to let hunger finish the job. She slid back down the roof, dangled her feet over the edge until I directed them to top step of the ladder and pointed out the silliness of my attire on the way back down. “Dress for the job you want.“ Good feedback.
Back home, I commented that the first two kittens were pretty ratty, but Su put my judgment in perspective—“You wore a suit to a rescue”—and hauled them off for a bath. Thus dismissed, I headed off to the kitchen for a rude shock. What the! In my focus on the rooftop kittens, I left the kitchen door unlatched and neither of our paraplegics Kirk or Bran were in sight!
For the most part, Bran and Kirk spend their time patrolling the floor, bullying the other lifers out of cat beds and Amazon boxes and teaching kittens bad habits. Despite their disabilities, neither knows limits—stairs, cat towers, doors…no problem—and if a patio door is unlatched, adventure is only a shoulder check away. Bran’s journeys usually stall out in a flower bed, but Kirk? With the door ajar and no one watching…it’s on.
As expected, I found Bran in a clump of African daisies a few steps from the door—“Back inside you…”—but to my horror, spotted a poop trail past the pool that had “See ya!” written all over it. Given its volume, Kirk was travelling light, and given its texture, he had a strong head start. Not good.
You’d think looking for a white paraplegic cat would be easy even at night, but within minutes of being outside, Kirk blends in like a sniper. After thrashing the hedges and coming up catless, I trudged back the laundry room to own it. Sort of.
“Uh…Kirk’s not in the kitchen.”
“What!? Where’s Bran?”
“I pulled him from the flower bed…”
Su handed me a grungy kitten and grabbed my flashlight. “Put these kittens in a kennel. Latch. The. Door.” Yeah, yeah…latch the door…got it.
After an hour of watching light sweep the grounds, hearing Su call for Kirk and offering her helpful texts—“No way he got that far.” “I’m pretty sure he’ll pop right out if you keep calling.” And “If you can’t see him, the coyotes can’t”—I heard a shout from the hill behind the property. “Hey! I found him! Hurry!” I sprinted toward the commotion and spotted a now brown cat flying past the solar arrays in furious two paw drive, Mama Su in determined pursuit and a cloud of dust billowing behind both.
I’m not going to lie, this off-road rally was a giggle, and given Kirk’s cockroach movements and disregard for dirt and authority, I didn’t see it ending anytime soon. But just as Kirk head-faked right and made a hard left to shoot down a 45-degree hill of foxtails, Su cut him off and held him aloft like Simba to the jungle. “Got you, you little sh%t!”
When I caught up and swatted the dust off my suit pants—“WTF…I can’t believe he got this far!”—Su looked like I do when I come back from a week at Burning Man and greeted me with the same loving enthusiasm. Holding out the now filthy Kirk, legs still thrashing, she said, “Lock. The. Doors.” punctuating each word with thrust and headed off to add him to the laundry queue. “You’re right. You’re right. Got it.”
From here the rooftop kitten rescue was anti-climatic, ending with an excited text the next day. “One kitten was in the trap! And the other just came along.” I told the finder I’d be by, and within an hour the four street punks were reunited onsite under the watchful eye of our dedicated crew. They’re a sketchy bunch and need work before they’re adoption ready, but for now they’re content to eat whenever they want…and I’m re-checking the doors when I leave the house.
Lee, Larry, Leon and Lyle. And Kirk…
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