December 23, 2011: Christmas kitten

A quiet sort of day. I worry that I’m falling behind in my volunteer work, because it’s awfully challenging to buckle down and do non-paid work when there’s a whole Chile out there. I have a project to finish before my Patagonia trip, which should be tough but manageable; once I’ve done that, I can relax.

Last weekend, V. had asked me to pick up a carton of milk because she had discovered some gatitos in her garden and wanted to feed them. Today, I got to meet the remaining kitten (I think the downstairs neighbor moved the others). V. is neutral about cats, but one of her daughters is an avid animal-lover, and spend part of the day tending to this kitten. It is a handsome, long-haired marmalade kitten, with piercing blue eyes. It is covered with fleas and mites and lord-knows-what, so it is weak and at risk for anemia. Still, it munched on some dry food she gave it, and lapped at a bowl of water, and feistily attempted to steal some of the foodpile of an adult cat who also visits the garden.

I sat nearby as the daughter tried to clean some of the dirt from its wee face, before wrapping it in a blanket and dripping some anti-flea formula along its back. It spent much of the afternoon napping, first on an old shirt, and later in a small box that she prepared for it.


As with the street-dogs, this is another situation where I feel a little ill-equipped to help. I did basic Internet research, which suggested kitten formula and anti-flea shampoos, but I don’t know Chile well enough to have the first idea where to buy these. (For example, supermercados sell food and toiletries, but never have anything along the lines of painkillers; you have to go to a farmacia for things like that. With this division of goods, I have no idea where kitten-supplies would fall. I checked the pet store on the corner, but no luck.)

I also waver a little between “Oh what a darling kitten you are! Let me stroke you and comfort you,” and “I can only guess how many diseases you have that are transmittable to humans, and I’m afraid to touch you.” The former won out, although I still washed my hands multiple times very well after interacting with the little one.

EDIT 12/24: The little kitten died in the night. It was fed and warm, but its anemia proved too much. V.’s daughter told me this morning. They buried it in the garden. Rest in peace, sweet young one.


In the afternoon, I got my very first Chilean post! It included two postcards from my father (one of which was mailed 1.5 months ago), a photo-collage Christmas card from my mother, and a card and an entertaining family photo from my auntly creature. The arrival of all these items on one day makes me wonder how the Chilean post system actually works. Do they keep foreign mail stacked in giant piles, and then disburse them once every month or two?

In the evening, I ventured into town for a mercifully brief outing; everything was crowded with shoppers preparing for Christmas. I stocked up on groceries (I’m not sure how many of the stores will be open later), and I grabbed Christmas wrapping materials and a few extra generic gifts, and fled back home.

2 thoughts on “December 23, 2011: Christmas kitten

  1. Oh, I am so sad. As I was reading, I had no idea that the kitty had any potential mortality issues. She was teeny, but I didn’t know she was so sick, Well, I’m glad you overcame your worry about cat diseases (and that you washed your hands a lot) so that you (and the others) gave the kitty lots of love and comfort in its final hours. I hate this dumb death stuff. You found out today? What time? I’m sorry, sweetie.

    I’m glad you got all that fun mail. I mailed a package to you the same day (and directly from the P.O.) so I hope it gets there.

    I’m sorry about your feline loss.

    1. We knew she had mortality issues: she looked nice from a distance, but you looked closer, and she was crawling with tiny nasties. With such a tiny animal, it gives her a big risk for anemia. I found out in the early afternoon, when V.’s daughter (the animal lover) stopped by and told me. I think she was even more sad than me, for she’d tried to do so much.

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