Zoe and The Stinkertons

Maggie with Zoe just after her diagnosis

In January, we lost Zoe, our sweet little nine-year old calico cat. Mark and I adopted Zoe as a kitten in 2001. Just after 9/11, people in Florida were going crazy, dumping animals in the shelters at an alarming rate, so the shelters were overburdened and over capacity. We found Zoe at a satellite branch of the Pinallas County SPCA and fell in love. Shortly after bringing her home, she developed an upper respiratory infection and needed to be hospitalized. Cha-ching! $1,000. Mark started calling her “Little G.” Several months after she recovered, she began eating things. String, dental floss, curly ribbon, silk razor grass. Cha-ching! Another $1,000. Mark started calling her “Double Down.” Then we got pet insurance, and after 2 more surgeries to remove foreign bodies from her intestines, we were dropped from the insurance company and deemed “uninsurable.” She seemed to have wised up, and after being banned from pet insurance, never needed extra medical attention again.

Until Christmas of 2010. At the beginning of December, Zoe began losing weight. She was constantly sneezing, so we thought that she was having another bout with upper respiratory. We took her to the doc who evaluated her and kept her under observation. She was sent home over Christmas and we watched her closely, administered fluids and force fed her. She never got better. In January, we took her back to the doc. She was not eating and losing weight rapidly. After several more tests, it was concluded that she had a cancerous tumor in her sinus cavity, and there was no course of treatment that could cure her. We made the difficult decision to end her suffering, and I held her in my arms as she passed.

About a week after we lost her, the kids and I were feeling very sad, so we started thinking about adopting a little baby kitten or two to get us past our grief. I visited the city shelter, and there were no kittens. We then called the county shelter, and they had just received a litter of three 5-week old kittens who hadn’t even been put into the system yet.

When the shelter told me one was a calico, we raced to the shelter to see them. A half an hour after arriving at the shelter, the kids and I walked out with three little kittens to foster—two females and one male. Since they were too young for adoption, we agreed to foster them for six weeks. We thought up names the rest of the afternoon. When we got home, we bathed them and cuddled with them, though they were very timid.

After about a week with us, we needed to change little Josephine’s name to Winston. He was boisterous and brave, going after Noelle, Maggie’s 1-year old cat with bravado. Cleo, the calico, was a timid little cuddle bunny, and Conan was the fire-red fuzzball who seems independent, but loves to be cuddled. We still weren’t sure we would keep them all—they were foster kittens after all. At the four week point, we decided that we were all just too attached to take them back to the shelter, so we made an agreement that in exchange for the kittens, I would assume all of their medical treatment.

They’ve now been with us for about six weeks, and while they are still timid, they are an enjoyable part of our family.  We call them “The Stinkertons” because, let’s face it, kittens are stinky little things until they get a little older! Winston and Noelle are the best of friends—they prefer to play with each other and spend time together more than with the others. And Winston goes EVERYWHERE in the house with Maggie. Cleo finds the craziest places to hide, and is faster than a lightening bolt. Conan is easy going, and allows himself to be caught and cuddled all the time.

The Stinkertons have been a blessing to our family. While they require a lot of work and smell up my half-bath (until they’re big enough to be free-range kittens!) they make us all smile. They haven’t filled the void left by our sweet Zoe, but they have made the transition easier on us all.

Winston, Cleo and Conan Stinkerton

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About juliephelpsphotography

To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis. - Henri Cartier-Bresson View all posts by juliephelpsphotography

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