Last Sunday, newly engaged couple Alyssa Weber and Josh Stott, were welcoming a beautiful new morning together when they heard a strange noise. Until loud cries pierced the serene morning. They were at Josh’s parents home enjoying the calm and peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by 5 acres of pastures. The family loves to relax on the scenic front porch. Squirrels scamper, chickens cluck and birds chirp in harmony with the rising sun.
But one bird letting out very odd and loud cries caught Alyssa’s attention.
Mid-sentence, she stopped speaking when she realized it sounded more like a kitten’s tiny mews. She stared towards the direction from which the sound had come. Once again, the high pitched tone rang through the countryside.
Alyssa jumped up and said to Josh, “I think that’s a distressed kitten”.
Now Alyssa and Josh aren’t just ANY crazy cat loving couple. She’s a Master Keeper volunteer at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida and Josh worked maintenance at the sanctuary. So their life has been filled with felines of all sizes, including a wide range of “catty” vocalizations.
She made her way to the sound, reaching the fence line of the property… almost an acre away! Just over 200 feet, that meant whatever was making the noise had some “pipes” on it!There was a small, aluminum shed on the neighbors property where they found the cry originating.
Alyssa was 100% sure now that it was coming from a kitten.
Josh’s younger sister, Emma, told Alyssa that she’d heard that same “bird noise” the night before, around 4 or 5 pm.
This meant that the kitten had been letting out the piercing plea for help for about 15 hours!
They knew it was surely abandoned and likely starving, possibly injured.
Being respectful, they didn’t just jump the fence and break into the shed to investigate. They rushed to Josh’s parents to see if they had a relationship with the neighbor, but unfortunately they did not. To make matters worse, Emma warned them that the man living there had a large guard dog…that did its job very well!
Alyssa knew it was only a matter of time before the dog was let out and would find the kitten first. She was fighting back tears and the feeling of helplessness.
It was decided Mr. Stott would drive them over to the house.
He works for the sheriffs department and had met the man once before in passing. Upon arriving, they were greeted by a very big barking dog.
They explained the reason for the unscheduled visit and realized the crying kitten had gone silent. Asking if they could go back to the shed to check out the situation, the man surprised them.
Without missing a beat, he said, “I’ll go take a quick look, you guys just stay here.”
They weren’t sure if it was Mr. Stott’s law enforcement relationship making him nervous or not. The man came back out way too quickly, saying he didn’t see anything.
All they could say was, “Thank you for checking”.
They exchanged phone numbers for neighborly emergencies.
Mr. Stott knew Alyssa was absolutely distraught over the thought of the kitten in peril. Looking at her as they pulled out of the driveway he asked, “What’s your gut telling you”?
“It’s there”, she promptly responded, fighting the compulsion to trespass to confirm her instincts.
Walking back into their house, Alyssa stopped to pick up her things she’d left on the porch in her hurried pursuit.
And she heard the kitten’s loud cries again!!!
She ran and got Mr. Stott, who went over to the fence himself this time.
Alyssa stayed on the porch knowing she was going to burst into tears of frustration and nerves if she accompanied him. Or worse, run into the shed herself and find who knows what! Mr. Stott quickly called the neighbor to let him know. This time the neighbor came out while the crying could be heard.
The man appeared from out of the shed with a tiny kitten in his hands only moments after entering.
They were very pleased with the next exchange of words.
“Well, looks like we found her!” he said.
Mr. Stott was quick to offer help. “Would you mind if we cared for her? We have a cat person here.”
“Yeah, of course”, he agreed.
Alyssa stretched out her hands for the little neonate and held it close against her rapidly beating heart.
It was a little girl, only about 3 weeks old.
She was cold and needed warmth immediately. Kittens that young still need help regulating their body temperature.
Hannah, another of Josh’s sisters, helped her find a basket. They lined it with towels and a stuffed animal.
Alyssa wrapped the kitten in a blanket and used her breath to try to warm her up. Emma went to go milk one of the goats and brought it to Alyssa with a syringe.
She tried syringe feeding the hungry, shaking, scared, screaming kitten with very little success.
They went out to get KMR, Kitten Milk Replacement, and a bottle. The neonate hardly ate that day, but over the next few days, got more used to the bottle.
The weak baby girl calmed down and finally slept peacefully, warm and silent!
“She was so, so hungry but didn’t understand the bottle. It’s hard to get a kitten to stop squirming when they’re THAT hungry and just want their mom and litter mates.”
Once Emma saw her, she knew she was one of the kittens from a stray litter they’d just recently discovered living under their barn.
They were working on TNR’ing them, but this girl with the loud cries was no where near the rest.
She was the same coloring and about the same size, but the mama had abandoned her for some reason.
Alyssa and Josh decided that the neonate would remain with them for a few days until she could be accepted into foster care.
She could go to work with them if their schedule allowed. If not, Alyssa’s roommate Stephanie was happy to step in for the darling little girl. She just completed her internship at Big Cat Rescue so was also well versed in kitten-speak.
“Steph took a whole day off of work to go take care of Birdie when Josh and I couldn’t take her. AND Steph got her to accept the bottle more willingly! So she was a HUGE help!”
On Facebook, Alyssa treated friends to a slew of photos and videos of the utterly adorable little girl.
“She’s a little explorer. But she’s also sooo clingy. I’d be clingy too though if I had been abandoned. She kneads on everything and has the cry of a pterodactyl.”
“She’s very ticklish but still loves her belly being rubbed.”
“She doesn’t stop purring.. EVER, and has ittty bitty teefs and sharp claws! …And the bluest eyes…There’s something about her that tells me she’s going to be a great cat.”
After much debating and internal struggles, they named her “Birdie” for her unique little voice.
The loud cries that saved her life were then used to thank them both repeatedly!
“She’s the sweetest little babe. She plays with her feet and purrs, but her cries will make your ears ring!! My mind is blown at how much like a bird she sounded this morning.”
On Wednesday, they took Birdie to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay who partner with Big Cat Rescue in their kitten fostering and adoptions.
Once she reaches a weight of 1 pound, she’ll be able to visit with the other kittens in the BCR’s Kitten Cabana. She’s still got just a few ounces to and is currently weighing in at a whopping 9 oz. Meaning they’ll happily be able to see Birdie still!
Birdie is quickly winning the hearts of the foster team and some new feline companions.
Alyssa is so grateful for her friends and new family. They all stood by her side, pulling together to save one tiny, lost soul.
“It was exciting, and scary, and sad and happy and relieving all in one. It’s gut wrenching to think about what would have happened if I didn’t hear that “one tone” in her loud cries.”
Be sure to follow Big Cat Rescue’s Kitten Cabana online to get a peek at the gorgeous baby Birdie. You may even hear her little cries of gratitude!
Her new foster brother Toodles is learning she can give back anything he can dish out! <3