I haven't properly introduced the newest addition to my family, yet. Let me do so now. Meet Harley Quinn, the newest member of our household.
She found us on a cold, wintry day in February. Earlier that morning, I had dropped the older kids off at school and had gone grocery shopping. Since it was just me and the baby, I had no one to help me unload the car. It took 5 trips from the car to the house that day. And with each trip, when I stepped onto the back porch I heard a strange squeaky sound. At first, I thought it was something bumping against the neighbor's house. After all, it was a windy day. But by the 3rd trip, I realized the squeaky noise would only occur when I was near the house. For my 4th trip I started looking around to try to find what was making that strange sound. By the 5th trip, I suddenly thought that it might be a cat. After all, with the experience I've had in the last 4 years as a cat owner, I've come to hear all sorts of noises that sound nothing like the traditional "meow" sound.
I stood still on the back porch, but the sound ceased.
"Hello?" I said out loud, searching amongst the many bicycles and kid's toys that were stashed on the back porch. "Is there a kitty out here?"
Sure enough, I heard the squeaky sound again. This time I was able to pinpoint its source. In the far, back corner of my porch, I found a tiny, scrawny bundle of black with two very green eyes gazing up at me. She opened her mouth for another croaky, squeak and my heart jumped.
It was so cold outside. And she was so tiny! What was she doing here?
"Hi, Kitty," I said, stepping toward her to get a better look. As I came forward, she stood and walked to meet me. I tentatively reached out my hand, thinking this will surely make the cat dart away. Stray cats in my experience never get this close to humans, but she looked so tiny and lost, I couldn't even think of anything else but to reach out to her.
To my surprise, she meowed and let me pet her.
All I felt was skin and bones. She was starving! My heart dropped.
"I'll be right back," I said and quickly ran into the house to get a small plate of cat food. When I came back outside, she was still there. I set the plate down and she pounced on it, gobbling the food. Again, my heart melted. She must be so hungry. When she was finished, she let me pet her again. This time she purred. A loud, rumbly purr. Then rubbed her head against my leg.
A kitten, I thought. She must be a kitten.
I couldn't leave her out in the cold. I knew from the weather reports that we were to have over a foot of snow in the next day or two. Where would she hide in that storm? Would she survive? She was already starving and trembling as I held her, so I didn't think twice about going back into the house to search for the cat kennel we kept in the attic. When I returned to the porch she was still there. I didn't even have to entice her into the kennel. I put another plate of food, plus a bowl of water and a blanket in the kennel and I picked her up and placed her inside.
That was how I met Harley.
The next day, I took her to the veterinarian to find that she was 3 lbs 6 oz. A kitten, I thought, but the vet corrected me. By her estimation, Kitty (as I called her then) was about 6 months old. Extremely small for that age but malnutrition could have stunted Kitty's growth. After all, I had no idea how long she was outside. Was she born out there or had she gotten away from her owners? Besides being undernourished, she also suffered from dehydration. She had fierce congestion, an ear infection and her one eye was weepy. A bit of fur was missing from her belly and paws. But, she was such a friendly kitty. She let everyone hold her and, boy, did she purr! So loudly!
When I spoke to my husband on the phone about her, I wasn't sure how he was going to take the news that I rescued another cat. We rescued 2 about 4 years ago. I had no intentions of keeping her. I just didn't want her dying. I saved her without thinking what to do next. But, when he saw her for the first time, I should've known she was destined to stay with us.
She's a black cat with dark brown stripes and a patch of white fur on her chest. My husband loves black cats. So, it didn't surprise me when no one stepped forward to claim her that he suggested we keep her.