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  • Well, it finally happened, not quite how I envisioned, but I was finally able to caress one of the young feral kittens that I have been feeding. Their mother made her presence know months ago during the winter months. I would observe her seeking shelter in a nearby abandoned barn. As I walked my dog she would cautiously watch me as we walked by, ready to dart to safety if I appeared to be a threat.

    During the warm days of June, the kittens made their appearance frolicking in my driveway as the night moved in. At first I thought there were two, but, just a month ago I realized there were three, counting mom, who is not much more than a kitten, four. My plan was to make sure they could eat, then attempt to capture mom, and have her spayed through the spay & release program.

    Each night I have put out food for them, and set up an old dog house for shelter, though they choose not to use this outside amenity, as far as I can tell. Mom is getting use to my presence and does not run once I am in her sight or even within feet of her, but her children disappear at the sound of my footsteps. They are now eating well enough to capture mom.

    Last Sunday, to my astonishment, my neighbor carried over one of the kittens, knowing that I planned to catch and release them as well. She held it gently wrapped in a towel. The poor thing appeared to be very weak which accounted for her ability to hold it. She said something was on it's neck. No other words can explain my reaction other than "grossed out" when I saw that the kittens neck was covered with thousands of tiny maggots. Though my assessment of the situation was bleak, I took the frail kitten in my arms and quickly went into the caring mode, leaving the "grossed out" behind. Bringing it inside, I began washing it.

    It saddened me that this had to be the first experience with a human being--- an outsider to the world it had known. I gently rubbed away the maggots with a soft cloth and beta-tine. Those little maggots were also fighting for their lives, I suppose. I cut away as much fur as possible and finally I was able to see to two tiny puncture holes, and peaking out another larger maggot. I am familiar with these creatures, known as wolf worms as well as a variety of other names. They hatch from an egg laid just beneath the skin by a fly. Once it hatches, it eats it's way out, and eventually drops out. However, an open wound can result. I believe a wound attracted another type of fly that laid hundreds of eggs on top of the skin as well as infection setting in.

    I stopped at one point, believing the little guy would not make it and the "care" I was providing was just causing more discomfort. Ready to stop, the little kitten stood on all fours, and wimpered. I gently stroked it and fed it a little tuna which it nibbled at, giving me a little hope that it may survive until Monday when I could get it to a vet. My hope dwindled once again as it lay down not to move too much more. I caressed it as it howled, welcoming death.
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