It's obviously 'New Animal' week around here and sometimes perhaps things are just 'meant' to happen aren't they.
The Rocky-sized cat 'space' and that rug in front of the Aga has been empty for quite a while now, and we had long ago decided a replacement would somehow just turn up. So Bookhound just happened to go out for a walk on Monday afternoon and after about an hour the phone rang...
'I've found a kitten in the lane...and I've waited and waited...'
Now we had seen a stray cat hanging around of late. In fact we had done a double take because it was a bit of a slimmed down Rocky look-alike and indeed it hadn't gone unnoticed by the Dowagers. But no sign of the kitten's mother now, no sign of any other kittens and just this little tiny bedraggled waif sitting under a leaf shivering and wet and scared. Nor would it run off, it just looked all beseeching and helpless at Bookhound having decided he was the one, and by this time Bookhound had morphed into Pet Rescuer Extraordinaire anyway so it was never in doubt..
So in came this little tiny shivering bundle, no bigger than the palm of your hand and out went the Dowagers in high dudgeon, and we sat and stared as it clung onto whichever of us was holding it as we deliberated what to do.
Should we have left it there??
If it is feral what chance of socialising it??
How old is it...it is eighteen years since we had a kitten...what do we feed it on??
Will the Dowagers ever come back??
In the end we rang the vet who said don't whatever you do think about putting it back where you found it hoping the mother might come back for it because she won't and a fox will get it, or it will die of exposure. The most likely scenario seems to be that the mother had now spread her kittens around to fend for themselves... if it's young enough not to run off and for you to be able to pick it up then it's not gone feral yet so you can either bring it into us and we will pass it on to the Cat's Protection League... or you can keep it.
'We'll keep it' said Bookhound, in a flash.... I must remember this moment when it starts laying into the sofa with its claws and dragging headless rabbits in through the cat flap to share with us.
By this time it is 6pm. Bookhound hunts out the litter tray and brings in the dog crate so we can keep it safely in the kitchen for a few weeks and I head off to source emergency supplies of kitten food, kitten milk and cat litter.
We decide it is a boy. In fact we think he is so young, perhaps four to five weeks, that we may have found him in the nick of time. He is very docile, loves being handled, knows what food is and eats it and can lap efficiently, is manfully coping with a litter tray instantly and can just about walk but is not a runner yet, so we are doing lots of holding and stroking and pretending to be mother cats. The Dowagers meanwhile are giving it all a wide berth with some added sound effects.
Then we have several hours of 'Choosing the Name' and we wonder whether it is a sign that the book I wrote about on Monday was by Otto de Kat. Except he doesn't look like an Otto so we go through everything else until we decide there must be something Orkney-ish we can call on.
And then we remembered that lovely day we had in Kirkwall wandering around St Magnus Cathedral a few weeks ago.
And we look at this tiny little bundle curled up in his blanket and we say 'Magnus' in that sing-song kitten way you do and see if it sounds better than the previous 634 suggestions, which it undoubtedly does, and his big ears, which he needs to grow into, perk up and he looks just the ticket.
So we are agreed.
He has had a much-needed bath without protest which is a first. We have 'swum' kittens before to deal with fleas and always been worsted in the process because they obviously think you are trying to drown them. This little chap just floated happily in the water while we lathered him with baby shampoo and lemon juice, which the fleas hate apparently, and fully expecting the flea rush to his ears but to our surprise we saw no sign of any.
Next it was off to the vet who does free Kitten Checks. Little Magnus is basically a set of fur-covered ribs with a toothpick at each corner, very underweight at 1lb 2ozs, malnourished and would probably not have survived much longer out in the open, but he passed muster so we have to keep him safe and warm, feed him up, handle him as much as we can which thus far he seems to love, and just hope for the best.