The vehicle’s digital-green thermometer read -16°C. That was the arid temperature, but the wind was blowing and sheets of ice crystals flecked off our car as we crawled our way along the country road. It was 7 o’clock on a mid-November evening, which, in the middle of nowhere in central Alberta, means it was pitch black. There wasn’t even the yard light of a nearby farm on the horizon.
I was completely zoned in on the blur of snow and gravel that my headlights illuminated when Jillian let out a sharp gasp. “Oh my god! That was a kitten!”
I slammed on the breaks.
Before I go further, I would like to let you all know that I was already a proud papa to a couple cats. Before I first came into contact with my kittens Cats Riptide and Catski, I knew very little about felines and what they were all about, nor was I sure I would make a good caregiver.
However, as any good cat lover can attest to, once you hold these little furball’s close to you and you hear them purr and feel them nuzzle up against you, you immediately know you will do anything to take care of them ensure they are loved, fed, and protected for their entire lives.
Jillian (who is no longer my girlfriend, although we are still very good friends to this day), also had a cat of her own that she rescued from the Humane Society. His name is Mugs. She and I were, and are, certainly “crazy cat people”. Ah hell, anyone casually glancing at our Instagram pages knows this, but this story is not about our cat obsession.
Back to the story.
I made a U-turn and as I came toward the top of the hill, I could not believe Jillian wasn’t completely tripping balls. I saw these tiny little eyes glowing in my headlights.
I slowed right down and stopped with my headlights pointed onto the road so that I could see what was clearly a tiny little kitten standing in the middle of the road that we just passed over.
Looking back on this moment, I am so very thankful there was no other traffic on this road at the time. It allowed me to do what happened next.
As I got out of my car, and said “hi there little one what are you doing out here?” And I was met by a scratchy and incessant meowing that resembled yelling or as close to yelling as a cat can get.
I didn’t want to frighten the kitten, so I lowered myself close to the ground (yes this works for those of you who want to approach a cat) and started talking softly when this little munchkin just immediately, in a full sprint, ran towards me and jumped up into my arms. I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life. This animal, clearly in distress, needed to be comforted and was looking at me to provide that comfort. Wrapping her up in my arms, I carried her back to the car where she continued to scream.
She was all ribs and was clearly dehydrated and malnourished. I handed her over to Jillian, where it was love at first sight. Jillian’s maternal instincts immediately took over as this little cat crawled up her chest and nuzzled her head into Jillian and she never stopped petting this little one until we got into the town of St Paul, where we quickly went to the nearest store to buy kitty litter, litter box, kitty food and a little toy as well.
Once we finally arrived at my mother's house, we brought the kitten inside and gave her a bath (while she howled), and then we put a little bit of soft food down for her to eat. I have never heard of cat make this sound before, but it was a sound that was so very desperate to eat.
We also put down some water, and shortly after she ate, she had to go and use the litter, but as she did she was clearly in distress and pain. We knew at that moment we needed to take her to the veterinarian quickly. There was no 24 hour vet in the small rural town, so we gave mom a kiss told her we loved her and apologized profusely, and we packed up and took our newfound kitten all the way back to Edmonton.
This little sweetheart was coddled and placed in Jillian‘s loving arms wrapped in her coat and gently pet until she fell asleep for the second half of our drive. I kept looking over at them in disbelief that we found her.
We arrived back in Edmonton and went straight to the 24 hour veterinarian, where we explained the situation and reluctantly handed her over to the woman working the front desk. The lady then asked us the big question, “do you want to a doctor or at least put in for adoption?” We both looked at one another, and we knew we both already loved her so much and we would have it no other way.
10 days later after she was in the care of caring animal people at the Humane Society who nursed her back to health, we were able to pick her up and take her to her new home. Our home. On our drive back home, we decided we would name her Snowy Road.
I have no idea how on earth Snowy found us in those unbelievable conditions, but with the nearest farm at least 2 km away, it was a miracle this kitten out on a deserted highway got there of her own volition. I can’t say for certain someone dropped her off or that she fell out of a vehicle or whatever the circumstance may be, but I know it was an unnatural place for her to be, and now I know fate truly has a hand to play in all of our lives. There can be no doubt this kitten needed us, and we were there right when she needed us most.
As our first year with her went by, Snowy developed a habit at home that when the furnace came on with the heat from the vent that she would go lay next to it, clearly craving warmth as will probably always be the case for the rest of her life. She also never misses a mealtime because food is certaily one of her greatest motivators. Trauma whether in human or animal lives is real, and this little one overcame some of the greatest trauma to now live a happy life surrounded by people who love her and cats she calls friends.
Jillian’s rescue cat Mugs and her other rescue Hamish (stories for another time) are Snowy’s best friends. If she’s not cuddling next to mugs on the cat tree, she’s looking outside the window with Hamish to see all the birds. But she has also brought so much joy into our lives.
Snowy has an intuition that blows my mind. If you are feeling sad or you’re feeling down, she is almost immediately next to you or sitting on top of you and purring. She is so attentive and there is something about her eyes that seem so much more intelligent and almost “knowing” about how she perceives the world around her.
Jillian and I did break up a couple years later, but the love of the animals that came into our lives while we were together as well as the friendship that we had built will forever keep us bonded to one another. Snowy lives with Jillian, and I go over to visit and see all of the fur babies. And one of the greatest joys of my life is the hug Snowy gives me when I see her. It reminds me of the moment I met her on that Snowy Road... and as she reaches up with her paws to wrap her little arms around my neck, I get choked up as I hug her close to me and thank her for finding us.