Last September, a woman from my mom’s yoga studio found two abandoned kittens outside her house. They were just three weeks old –– so tiny they could both fit in the palm of my hand.
The woman sought out my mom, a well-known cat person, for advice and for help in caring for the two babies. My mom thought of me.
I grew up with cats and have always had a special fondness for the animals, but, two years ago, my childhood cats, Nimbus and Heckler, passed away. I was devastated, especially with the loss of Nimbus. He was admittedly my favorite of the two.
In September, I had just started back at Carolina and was having a difficult time. My living situation wasn’t great and I was upset by COVID-19’s effect on my senior year. I felt robbed of tradition and the experiences promised to me and my peers.
My mom thought that caring for the two kittens until they found a permanent home would bring some much-needed joy to my world. I thought it was a fantastic idea.
The following week, I picked up the kittens and took them back to my house in Chapel Hill. But, at three weeks old, they were A LOT of work. They needed to be bottle-fed every two hours and be kept warm by a heater. I didn’t anticipate having to wake up every few hours throughout the night, or the challenge of caring for such helpless creatures in addition to my classes and work schedule. Ultimately, it was too much.
I broke down and asked my mom to take them back. Luckily, she was able to care for them in my place. But, after several months of watching them grow, she couldn’t give them up and I didn’t want her to. We adopted the “beans,” as we called them, and they became part of our family.
In January, I’ve moved out of my toxic living environment and started my last semester at Carolina. With this fresh start, I decided I wanted to try again.
Last week, while visiting home during the wellness days, I packed the kittens up and took them home with me.
They are now 7 months old and much lower maintenance. I knew that this time, I could do it. Although they’ve only been with me for a few days, it has already been such a blessing.
Surprisingly, even when it’s difficult to care for myself, caring for these sweet creatures feels like such a gift. It has given me a renewed sense of purpose and, rather than a burden, is a welcome responsibility.
Taking care of Coco and Winky, the beans, have given me joy when not much else has. And, it’s taught me a valuable lesson: that taking care of others may be the best gift you can give yourself.