In my life I have mainly fostered orphaned baby birds. I did once have a small litter of feral kittens in my backyard that my border collie herded into a hissing, spitting mass, but I took those to the shelter for adoption. I also once rescued a puppy I found on the side of the road that someone had doused in kerosene (flea remedy? mange??), but my then-husband wouldn’t let me keep her so I bathed her and gave her to a nice lady who fostered her and found her a good home.

So this afternoon my dog Lily and I set out to run a few last-minute errands, the bank, post office. As we crested a hill in the neighborhood I saw a lady off her bicycle, standing on the side of the road cradling something very small. So we stopped.

A tiny, fruzzy, very thin grey kitten. I asked her if she thought she could ride her bike home with the kitten, I could give her a small box. Just as we agreed to this we heard a tiny, faint “>mew!<" close by. We stood by a sewer, looked at each other hoping against hope. We looked down into the shadowy darkness below. Yes, there it was, on a rung on the side of the sewer. A tiny black and white kitten, its mouth as big as the rest of it, mewing for all it was worth. So I sat down on the road by the sewer grate and stuck my arm in. I needed another inch. The other lady (Julie I learned was her name) stuck her arm. Same thing. We tried to fabricate a sling of bungee cords which scared the kitten off the rung, but he jumped back up. Clearly our ingenuity was running thin. Julie offered to ride home for some lovely cat food, about 10 minutes away.

"I live 2 streets over, do you think tuna would work? chicken??" I offered. We decided on tuna and when I returned to the rescue scene a small crowd of young girls and their mom and a friend (with a small and very interested puppy) had gathered. Julie stood, still comforting the tiny grey cat. I leaned over the grate, talking and doing my best mewing to the little one under the grate while Julie got the can of tuna open. She handed me a chunk and the little cat in the sewer practically ate the tip of my finger to get at it, then happily jumped to the bottom, totally out of reach. Uh oh. Hoping he would soon finish and be wanting some more. He did. This time I was ready. As he stretched his tiny legs toward my waiting hand I closed my fingers around him and carefully drew him through the edge of the grate. We bundled him up in a soft cloth bag with his little sibling and Julie happily rode off with the two of them.

It's a great feeling when you have helped something, no matter how small.

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