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Questions Answered: How did you find your cat?

The following is a reposting of a Quora answer that I wrote which was also based on some previous blog posts. You can check out the article here:

Quora: How did you find your cat?

This is a story about how I became an accidental cat owner/lover.

About 5 years ago, I was on an overseas assignment with a moderately stressful job and living alone in a 3 bedroom house. On the morning of January 16, 2015, I heard strange noises coming from the guest room while I was looking for a fresh pair of socks. I initially thought that a squirrel that I saw loitering around the garden has somehow sneaked inside the house.
For the past year, I have been feeding the neighborhood stray whenever she comes over. I have been calling her Miming. On that January morning, Miming somehow sneaked inside the house and gave birth to kittens in the guest bedroom on the bottom shelf of my bookcase (after moving all the books on the lowest level out of the way). I believe she came into the room by making a hole in my portable air-conditioning's flexible ducting. I gave her some milk and water since that’s all I have and I had to rush off to work. I was thinking that she would transfer her kittens away from prying eyes for sure. I was quite surprised that they were still there where I left them when I came back from work in the afternoon. I bought some grocery dry kibble cat food and pretty much left them alone.
Sadly, a lot of things happened in the next few days. Miming looked steadily weaker and a white tomcat broke into the house (using the same torn ducting) and was able to kill 2 of the kittens before I could stop him (I heard some commotion from the next room and decided to investigate). There was a white male cat staring at them and Miming was hissing and baring her fangs and lunging at the male cat. She doesn't seem to be too happy with him there and does not want him near the kittens. I don't really understand what's going on but I decided to chase the male cat out of the house. Coming back in the room I discovered 2 of the kittens already dead. Some of my friends told me that some tomcats kill kittens so that the mother cat can mate with them. I buried the kittens in the backyard with the help of a friend. I then blocked all the possible entrances and just kept an eye if she wants to go out (I am assuming she is doing "her business" outside since she is not exactly litter trained and I did not provide her with a litter at this point).
A few days later, however, Miming did not come back and I was left to take care of the lone surviving kitten on my own. With Miming gone (I never really found out what happened to her) and the 2 other kittens not surviving the attack, I have decided that I would take care of the remaining kitten. I have decided to name him/her Kitkat and the first thing I did was ask for help from my friends.
I haven't owned a cat before this — much less a few-day-old kitten demanding attention. Was it missing Miming? Was it hungry? What does it eat? These questions were running through my mind. I tried enticing the meowing kitten with a bowl of milk (this was before I knew that you cannot give kittens cow's milk) but either she didn't know how to lap up the milk or he/she was just not hungry.
Luckily, with the help of a few friends, message boards, and YouTube tutorials I managed to have a rough idea of what to do. I bought some kitten formula in the nearby pet store, bought a little kitten bottle, a whole tub of sanitary wet wipes and some cotton squares.
I was fascinated to learn that kittens cannot poo and pee on their own and I needed to simulate a mother cat's tongue with damp cotton to encourage the kitten to pee and poo. Also, bottle feeding introduces a lot of excess air into their small tummies and that it is necessary to burp them by patting them gently on the back (with a hand-towel to protect me in case there is some vomiting involved). For a couple of weeks, I went home during lunch break to feed what I would jokingly call "my baby" at home which elicited a few strange looks from my colleagues (since I have set the feeding schedule every 6 hours: midnight, before I go to work in the morning, noon-time, and when I get home from work in the afternoon).

He turned out to be a great companion around the house. He may not be the most mild-mannered cat out there (he strongly objected to regular claw trimmings) but we had a kind of mutual respect. Being a dog-person, I learned the hard way that a cat showing their belly is not an open invitation for a belly rub (ouch!), but when he chooses to curl up beside you and make those contented deep purring sounds, its probably one of the highlights of having him in your life.
When my overseas assignment was over, it never occurred to me to leave him behind. He was my son and he is coming with me wherever I go next. Sorting out the vaccination requirements and export/import permits is another whole new experience for me. Permits, transport arrangements, vaccination, and microchipping done, I was able to bring him back home.
Here’s Kitkat a few Christmases ago when I went home to discover the Christmas tree shredded to bits and poor Rudolph decapitated on the floor. Ah… good times.
I lost him a few months back due to a combination of pneumonia and having a weak immune system brought about by having FeLV. He lived to be 4 years old. He would have been 5 next month. I still miss him terribly.
*** Edit: 25 Dec 2019

I just wanted to add that although Kitkat was the reason why I became a cat lover, he was not an “only child”. I have adopted another kitten after I have returned back from my overseas assignment. His name is Nougat and here’s a pic of the two cats just hanging out at the counter a few years back.

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