Last Friday, when others were just leaving work and excitedly heading home to start the weekend, one man was excited for a “smaller” reason. To be exact, it was a pound and a half, furry black reason that he crossed paths with. And the tiny kitten appeared out of nowhere, immediately changing any plans he had made that night. His name is Chris Poole, a.k.a. Cat Man Chris, and cat servant to online personalities, Cole and Marmalade. Once again, he was in the right place at the right time.
Now, for those of us who know him, hearing that everything is put on hold until a newly discovered feline has been saved, is nothing new. It’s genuinely miraculous that their paths cross in the first place. It’s almost as if fate understands without his help, these needy felines wouldn’t be long for this world. You don’t argue with that, you just find a craft to fill your time waiting for the trap door to shut.
Little did Chris know that when he crossed paths with this purrticular kitten, she would lead him on a lifesaving journey!
After a long day in front of the computer, Chris likes to go to the gym or on a bike ride for exercise and fresh air. This day he was riding down Sheldon Rd. in Tampa, Florida. (Yes, you may recognize that name from another familiar kitten rescue Cat Man Chris was involved with!) But this time, it was his dedication to the felines of the world that alerted him to an issue.
I was on a bike ride yesterday afternoon. Like most other cat rescuers, I always have my radar turned on for any feline in need. I’m always listening to bird chirps thinking they’re cats or kittens! I was not far from home, cycling down a busy road, when I heard a noise that sounded different.
I stopped and got off my bike. Almost immediately spotted a tiny black kitten peeking back at me on the ledge of a drainage pipe! Sneaking closer to get a better look, of course it bolted into the thick brush. I rushed back home, got in the Cat Man Mobile and headed back to the spot to search.
I was in the kitchen when Chris returned home, sweating more than usual. He had a thrilled look on his face and a sparkle in his eye that could only mean one thing. He spewed out some garbled British/American words and I remember hearing “black kitten”, “swampy jungle” and “going back”. About 15 minutes later, I drove by the location to offer assistance, but even after walking around couldn’t locate Chris.
That would be because these two took their “crossed paths” off-road and into what was basically a roadside jungle.
When he finally replied to my text, it was like many others I’ve received in the past. Luckily, he shared the full details from his adventurous evening on his Facebook page later. (Yes, Chris is wearing my pink Chicago Cubs hat in his profile photo on my phone LOL)
It was like looking for a needle in a haystack and the constant noise of passing traffic made it very difficult to hear any teeny meows. I decided to take a break and go back that night. After 3 hours of searching, I could only hear the kitten. But every time I took a few steps, hoping it might be so scared/tired/hungry, it would give in and come closer. It didn’t.
So when my flashlight battery died, I admitted defeat. I knew deep down it wasn’t going to be a success if I continued. No matter how many kitten noises I made or mama cat calling kittens videos I played on YouTube, the kitten was freaked out by this big “predator” that was trying to get him.
But Chris had another plan and wasn’t going to give up on the kitten now. Honestly, I think it hit him on a personal level too. It’s almost Halloween and the reason we began making cat videos in the first place was because of our beloved black kitten, Cole. When he was found, shelters refused to take him in because he was so small and had black fur. Black cats and dogs in shelters are usually the first to be euthanized and the last to be adopted–all because of unlucky stigmas related to their fur. If we hadn’t adopted him, there’s no telling what Florida streets he’d have ended up on.
He would return in the morning and force their paths to cross again.
The tiny kitten was simply there on the sidewalk, curled up and sleeping peacefully–8 FEET FROM THE ROAD! As cars drove by and the world sped by, the black ninja lay content and oblivious.
I didn’t worry too much about filming. Because I knew this opportunity wouldn’t come around again anytime soon, I decided to sneak up, grab it and stuff it in carrier.
And it worked! Chris was able to approach the kitten from the side quietly and easily snatch, what turned out to be a little girl, from the ledge. He rushed her home after making sure there she had no visible injuries. She was clearly terrified, but most of the felines we see have that same look. We know it’s the first day of the rest of their lives though and will soon melt away.
But then when he posted the rescue photo of her online, one woman became very concerned.
In her years of experience, Michelle Hoffman President at Milo’s Sanctuary, recognized something in the sweet–but spicy–kitten’s face. She messaged Chris right away, alerting him to the fact that the little girl may be suffering from hydrocephalus.
The most common cause of hydrocephalus in young cats, is a congenital defect that blocks the outflow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). [CSF] acts as a kind of lubricant and shock absorber. It is produced in the brain, circulates through the brain and around the spinal cord, and is eventually absorbed into the blood. With hydrocephalus, the brain may produce too much CSF or the outflow of CSF may be blocked. This causes CSF to accumulate in and around the brain, resulting in excessive pressure.
However, the condition can also be caused by certain viruses (feline infectious peritonitis and the panleukopenia virus), parasite migration, bacterial and fungal infections, cysts, and tumors.
If she hadn’t crossed paths with someone who helped her, she’d have died in that jungle–but her journey was far from over.
Milo’s Sanctuary agreed to take the kitten if she was confirmed to have the rare condition. In the meantime, they suggested the purrfect name for her on his Instagram post, which luckily can be for a boy or girl.
Name it Samhain pronounced Saw’ven. It’s the Celtic “Halloween” and the celebration of a new year and new beginning. You could call [her] Sam for short!
When Chris and Sam left the vet’s office Tuesday morning, he had more than just positive medical updates to share.
Took little Sam (female) to the vet for an initial checkup today… everything looks good, she’s eating great, normal temp and she’s super lovey and chatty meow 🙂
Milo’s Sanctuary, Inc. have offered to give this little girl the best life possible over on the west coast. They have other hydrocephalus kitties and a great neurologist. So Sunday I’ll be driving her 700 miles to Louisiana and then they’ll be driving her out to California from there.
But not only does Milo’s Sanctuary have an experienced neurologist, he is the guy who founded how to treat hydro kitties! It’s one more thing you don’t argue with, simply count your blessings and be furever grateful.
Sam will get best care possible at Milo’s. She will either live with Michelle at the sanctuary or in thoroughly vetted foster home.
The first few months of their lives is critical and they need to be monitored carefully and constantly. If she stops eating, has seizures, or suddenly goes blind, it’s emergency time! But Michelle thinks her case is mild and can be treated with meds.
And we’re sure Sam feels as grateful and hopeful as we do. It’s only been about a week, but she is happily accepting human attention in foster care here in Florida.
So this Halloween–and everyday that follows–be sure to remember how lucky black cats are to have crossed paths with their rescuers.
I’ve been checking the spot where I found her and haven’t seen or heard any other kittens… she really is a VERY lucky black kitten 🖤
Be sure to follow Cat Man Chris and Milo’s Sanctuary for all the updates on Sam’s journey. We’re sure there’s a very happy family that is ready to join her special path.