A Portrait of Survival

Vivi jumps down from the dump to nose out our offering.

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece,” said Leonardo da Vinci. And such precious works of art can be found in the most unexpected places. Like a dumpster. That is where, a week ago, we discovered a tiny kitten, scruffy and scared, tossed there like the trash she was picking through, desperate for food. Barbara was the first to spot the little critter, along with three of its siblings. She managed to rescue two; no one knows what became of the other one (or her mama). We nicknamed this remaining little ragamuffin Vivi, short for Sobreviviente, Spanish for survivor.

We started feeding little Vivi, leaving a paper dish under the dumpster. She quickly nosed it out and gobbled it up. We had no idea where she went at night, and worried endlessly during thunder and lightning and rain. Was she cold? Was she wet? Was she afraid? Was she being stalked by predators? But each morning we’d leave a fresh plate of food, and within minutes she’d creep out from behind the bags of garbage or a hole in the tree.

Vivi peeks out from behind the ferns. Warriors are not defined by size, but sheer will to survive.

We took to watching the bin during the day, looking for her, hoping she was okay. One day as we were watching, some guy on the back of a motorcycle roared by and hurled a huge bag of trash into the bin, narrowly missing Vivi. We decided we had to get her out of harm’s way. She made it easy. One afternoon, returning from our walk with Kahlua, out from the ferns in front of the house poked a little white face, followed by a tentative mew. Vivi had found us.

Horatio and Kahlua spot a tiny invader.

So we relocated her dish to the front stoop and she immediately settled in, believing she’d found her fur-ever home. She never came inside, and we never invited her to because, well, it’s not our house. She was content to huddle in the ferns while she got accustomed to her new surroundings, occasionally sneaking through the front entrance for a closer look. When Kahlua spotted her, she got so excited she took to spending hours gazing at the little kitty through the glass door. When we’d leave and return from walks, she would rush over to the ferns, trying to sniff out Vivi. Where’s my new toy?! Vivi was just as curious, and the two nearly touched noses before she lost her nerve and scampered away. When Horatio and Trixie caught sight of her, they stared for a few minutes, yawned and sauntered off, back to the business of snoozing.

Seeing no strings attached, Vivi finally trusts.

It took a day or two before Vivi would let me touch her, then she was all over me, rubbing against my legs, somersaulting over my feet, meowing in my face. She’d found her mama. Unfortunately, I could not be her mama. We were caring for other pets, and with our itinerant lifestyle, there’s no way we could take her, as much as we would have loved to.

Barbara told us at least one of her siblings was still at Dr. Julio’s, the local vet, but he really doesn’t have the space or resources to keep strays (we would learn later the little guy had been adopted and is en route to California). And since the town was stretched to its limit with abandoned cats, nobody would likely take her. Just as we were losing hope, we heard about a no-kill feline rescue shelter, The Purr Project, near Puerto Vallarta. Brilliant, we thought. But then we discovered they charge $100 US to bring them a cat. That’s $130 Canadian cash rubles. We don’t dispute the fee; it goes toward food, shelter and health care for sick, injured and abandoned cats, and without these fees and donations the place would not exist. Still, for us it was a fair chunk of change that we just didn’t have at the moment. So we got the idea to crowd-source on Facebook. We would come up with half if enough kind hearts could chip in $5 each to make up the other half.

Vivi meets her new mama but Kahlua doesn’t want to give her up so easily, as Dr. Julio tries to restrain her.

We had barely posted the story on FB when we heard from the cat ranch that they were over-full, so crowded they could not take little Vivi. We were crestfallen. But, in a testament to the speed and power of social media, we heard from Kimberly, a town realtor, who offered to give the wee warrior a home. Then another volunteered, and another, and another. Out of darkness came light. I almost cried. As I did when we met Kimberly at Dr. Julio’s, where we took Vivi for a check-up, vaccinations and de-worming, for the hand-over. We were all emotional, especially Kahlua (there for a haircut), who was so thrilled to see her blue-eyed beauty again she tried to nudge her out of Kimberly’s arms.

There’s a special place in hell for people who would throw away a living being like garbage. There’s no excuse, especially with so many big hearts in this town who would go out of their way to give that being a fighting chance. And they did for this smallest of masterpieces.

Throw me to the wolves and I’ll return leading the pack . . .Click on this image of little Vivi to see more.

I know this is just one story of one lucky kitty among a bazillion others that were not so lucky. But at least it’s one. We shudder to think what would have become of this small survivor in a world without compassion, and just in the nick of time.

To quote another great mind, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”