Kitten Therapy

If you haven’t gathered from my previous posts, I love cats. I just really love cats. Sometimes I make my friends take me to the animal shelter when I feel blue so that I can hold some cats. It’s a surefire way to help me feel better in no time, because I just love their little faces and paws and tails and slinky attitudes.

The summer before my junior year of college was pretty miserable. I was living in Williamsburg, VA, in a house with drafty windows and a broken air conditioner, so it was constantly a million degrees. My roommate was going through a bad breakup and I was on a diet where basically all I could eat was grass. There are no carbs in grass. This diet made me pretty unpleasant. So between the semi-constant crying, and the totally constant sweating, it wasn’t the fun-filled environment you might hope for if you were, say, a nice girl from Missouri just trying to take a few summer classes. Sorry, Sara. Also sorry, Jules. Just…sorry, everybody.

I worked as a nanny that summer, spending most of my days in silence as my 9-year-old charge rarely wanted anything to do with me. One afternoon, I got a text from my roommate Taylor saying she had a surprise for me later. My interest was piqued, since my carb-and-fat-free ways meant that it had to be something other than pizza, which was usually what we meant when we told the other we had a “surprise”.


Several hours later, I was weeping into a rapidly melting tub of fat-free cool whip when Taylor walked in with a carrying crate. She opened it up and a long hair torti kitten wandered out followed by the tiniest, lankiest, cutest little booger I’d ever seen. Immediately, I named the kittens Basket and Bruner, and commenced snuggling. Taylor maintains that those were stupid names, but she let me call them that because she’s a really good friend.  She had found the one thing in the world that would make me happier than pizza.

Amelia, me, Bruner

Basket and Bruner had the cutest little colds and the sweetest little eye infections, but they would never get better if they had stayed at the humane society, with all the cat germs floating around there. So we gave them their little medicine and hugged them and made them chase string, and soon they were ready to go back and get adopted. By then we had realized that this rent-a-kitten thing was too good to abandon, so we got more.

Next, we got four gorgeous polydactyl tabbies who needed to be socialized. At the start of their 2 and a-half weeks with us, they all hid behind the couch all the time and hissed whenever you looked at them. By the end, I didn’t even have to chase them to get them to sit on my lap! One time, Taylor made some cheesy potato soup, and all four kittens started shouting and climbing up her shoulders to try to get to the soup. In that moment, we knew they would have no problem finding families, so extra toes and all, back to the shelter they went.

Cuddle Pros

After that we had Phyllis and Angela, who also had colds.  They were with us for a few weeks before they were healthy and went back to the shelter. Soon after, we brought home the detectives. Detective Elliot Stabler, Detective Olivia Benson, and B.D. Wong were about 5 weeks old and needed some socialization. They were adorable, and if you’ve ever had any doubt about how cute it is to act out scenes from Law and Order: SVU with kittens,  I am here to confirm that it is very, very cute. The only downside to the detectives was that they had a serious flea issue, but they were too little for flea medicine. We gave them baths, to no avail. Soon, the whole house had fleas.

Detective Elliot Stabler; dreaming of killing perps, infesting my house.

A note about fleas: fleas don’t latch onto humans, but they do bite. Also, they get into your clothes and carpet and are just terrible. Also, people make fun of you when they find out you have fleas. Also, exterminators are expensive, but DIY flea bombs don’t really work, especially when your house has a bunch of holes in it.

At that point, school was starting, I was skinny, and our sub-letters were leaving. We were getting back to reality, so the stream of kittens ended. I think of those little guys often, though, and I completely attribute my weight loss success to them, distracting me from my misery. I could try to market it, but “The Kitten Diet” sounds a little sinister. I’ll work on it. I speak of those kittens fondly, and whenever I bring them up in conversation, whoever I’m with always is in awe of my kindness for helping foster and rehabilitate kittens in need. But to paraphrase Sandra Bullock from The Blind Side, “No. Those kittens were fostering me.”


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