It was a cool summer morning, so Hannah, Justin, Kath, and their new friend Maira rode their bikes to the nearby park. They were having so much fun biking on the winding paths when Justin noticed a circle of boys nearby. The boys seemed to be playing with something. They were jeering and laughing loudly at something on the ground.
“Hey, guys. Should we go and see what they’re doing?” Justin called to the three girls.
“I think they’re poking something with a stick.” Hannah said. The four kids edged closer until Maira gasped: the boys were taunting three little kittens with a twig! The kittens, obviously newborn, were in a shoe box.
Hannah went up to one boy and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hi there, you might be hurting the kittens,” she said.
“I’m not. We’re just playing with them. They were abandoned here, anyway,” said the boy.
“But why are you poking them with a stick?” asked Maira, peering at the shoebox and caressing one kitten with her finger.
“It’s fun,” replied one of the boys, shrugging.
“Can we take them instead?” Justin asked. He picked up the shoebox and looked at the three kittens inside. One of them was colored gray and the two others were colored orange.
“Sure, go ahead. We’re sick of poking them anyway,” said another boy. “Let’s go, guys,” he told his friends, and they walked away. Justine put the box on a bench and began stroking the kittens’ little heads.
“What are we going to do with them? We can’t leave them here,” Kath said. She scowled. “Why doesn’t our condominium allow pets?!” she exclaimed. Hannah looked at Justin and Maira. “We have dogs, big dogs! These kittens might be eaten,” Justin blurted out, looking horrified. “My mom just gave birth to my little sister, so we can’t have pets right now—especially not three kittens,” Maira shook her head.
Hannah thought for a minute and picked up the box. “Let’s bring them to our house. Maybe Mama can help us!” she smiled. The three nodded in agreement. Kath put the box in the basket in front of her bike and the four of them rode back to Hannah’s house.
“Mama, we found kittens in the park! Can we adopt them? Please? They have nowhere else to go!” Hannah said excitedly as she entered their house. She placed the shoebox on the kitchen floor and stared at her mom who was busy preparing meryenda.
“Oh my. Where did you get them?” Mama asked, in the middle of stirring something delicious-smelling in a steaming pot. She smiled when Hannah’s friends chorused a greeting to her.
“We found them at the park. They’re abandoned,” Hannah said. She looked at Mama hopefully.
“We can’t adopt them, Hannah. I’m sorry. Daddy is allergic to cats,” Mama said. The four friends looked crestfallen. What are they going to do with the poor kittens now?
“But…” Mama added. The children started brightening up. “We can take them to Nanay Eden’s animal shelter. There they will be given proper care and also get to be friends with other animals. Does that sound good?” Mama smiled.
Hannah, Justin, Kath, and Maira exchanged looks and smiled. As long as the kittens will be safe, Hannah all thought. One kitten started mewling, and the others joined it.
“Great! Have your merienda first, then we’ll feed and clean the kittens before we go to Nanay Eden’s.” The four kids nodded in agreement, washed their hands, and grabbed a bowl of what turned out to be macaroni soup. Meanwhile, Mama puttered around the kitchen, heating some milk on the stove. After they finished their food, Mama had placed a syringe, a thermos, and towels on the table. The whole time, the kittens were crying, only momentarily quieting down when one of the children would stroke their heads.
“Hannah, carefully place the kittens in this towel. Justin, get the milk I heated. Kath, could you brush the dirt off the kittens’ fur? And Maira, please get the basin I left in the sink earlier.” The children obeyed Mama’s instructions and after a short while, the five of them were standing in a circle around the kitchen table.
First, Mama used the syringe to feed the kittens warm milk. Then, with a warm towel, she began cleaning the remaining dirt on their fur.
But the kittens wouldn’t stop crying.
“Tita, why are they still crying? They have been fed already,” Kath asked, attempting to stroke a kitten with her index finger. Mama smiled and wrapped one kitten, then another, and then another with the warm towel. Within seconds, the three little ones were asleep.
“Why did you do that?” asked Maira, amazed at Mama’s skills.
“The kittens are crying because they are looking for their mother,” Mama explained. “The warmth of the towel makes them feel as if they are being hugged by their mother.
“Oooooh.” The four said in chorus.
“Come, let’s carry them to the van and bring them to Nanay Eden’s,” Mama said, getting her keys. “Gently, gently,” she told Justin, who had grabbed the box.
When they arrived at the shelter, Nanay Eden cheerfully welcomed them.
“Hello, hello!” The round, smiling woman waved them into the gate.
“Kids, I want you to meet Nanay Eden. She is the one who takes care of all the animals in this shelter.” Mama said.
The four kids smiled at Nanay Eden.
“Mama said you can take care of these kittens for us?” Hannah said, looking at the box of kittens that she was holding in her arms.
“Yes, dear! Here in the shelter, we take in abandoned animals, feed them, and find a new home for them.” Nanay Eden said, smiling. “With these kittens, you don’t have to worry. I promise I will take good care of them for you.”
“But.. can we visit them from time to time?” Justin said.
Nanay Eden smiled. “Anytime, dear. You can even play with the other animals inside, if you want!”
“Really?” Hannah said, her eyes glimmering with joy. “Can we do that, Mama?”
Mama smiled and nodded.
“Yay!” The four kids exclaimed.
“Maybe next time. Now, we need to go. It’s starting to get dark outside, and I don’t want to bother Nanay Eden any longer,” Mama said. “Hannah, please give the kittens to Nanay Eden.”
Hannah walked toward Nanay Eden and gave her the box of kittens. The four children took a final peek at the sleeping kittens and softly caressed their fur. “We’ll see you soon.” Maira whispered at the kittens, careful not to awaken them.
“Goodbye, Nanay Eden! We’ll be back soon!” Hannah said.
Nanay Eden smiled as she walked the four children out toward Mama’s van.
The four children went home with smiles on their faces, assured that Nanay Eden would take good care of the kittens, and excited for their next visit at the shelter.