Kolbe, a tuxedo kitten, was two weeks old when he was found by employees at a Tractor Supply Store. He was huddled with his three siblings in the middle of a pallet holding 50-pound bags of seed.
It was later discovered that the kittens were stowaways shipped to the store with the seed from the regional warehouse. Sadly, their mom didn't survive the transport.
The employees sprang into action and worked together to get the kittens to safety. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington was then contacted, and Lauren, a foster volunteer of the rescue, stepped up to help.
"I was so thankful for these Good Samaritans, but I didn't realize at the time just how indebted we would be to them. I picked Kolbe and his siblings up later that day and brought them home," Lauren told us.
The plan was to get them big and strong and prep them for their future forever homes.
Lauren worked tirelessly for several weeks, finding the right food, meds and supplements to treat the kittens' stomach issues, and nursing them back to health.
"Their growth was slow during this time, but they were constantly in good spirits and were some of the most physically affectionate kittens I have ever fostered."
Kolbe quickly stood out to be the biggest love-bug of the bunch. Even when he was just pint-sized, he had so much to give.
"At first, Kolbe was a sweet and serious little soul with huge solemn eyes and a tiny downturned mouth," Lauren shared with us.
"As he grew, his personality exploded and he transformed into a silly, charismatic, and extremely lovable boy with the most magical sounding purr."
The kittens thrived in foster care and were days away from their next journey in life. Before they knew it, Kolbe had crept his way into the hearts of his foster family.
"We started having serious conversations about keeping Kolbe, but we told ourselves that we are fosterers and this is part of the process."
After sending the kittens off to their new homes, it was bitter sweet knowing that was the end of the chapter. "But as it turns out, this wasn't the end of our story with Kolbe."
A few days later, Lauren received a message about Kolbe being returned due to concerns about a medical condition. The tuxedo has always had wide-set eyes and a slightly protruding forehead. After several vet visits, they concluded that Kolbe either had a very mild case of hydrocephalus or just an extremely kissable forehead.
"We knew we just couldn't say goodbye a second time. Everything lined up so beautifully and it was obvious that this magical boy was meant to be ours."
A couple of weeks later, three new fosters (Lucy, Levi, and Lucas) made their debut at Lauren's home. Kolbe heard their meows from the kitten room and was eager to greet them. He patiently waited till the kittens were medically clear.
"He loved watching them through the playpen. If he ever heard any of them cry or make a noise, he rushed over to sit by them."
When the former foster joined the new kittens in their nest for the first time, Kolbe was over the moon. He started doting on them as if he knew just what they needed.
Kolbe embraced the big brother role, watching over his little proteges, showing them the ropes and teaching them how to be a proper cat.
The three grey tabbies looked up to him, mimicked him when he played, and followed his lead.
"I couldn't have asked for a better big brother or teacher for my foster kittens. He just adores the little kids and is always very indulgent with them," Lauren said.
"He is able to teach them things that I simply cannot. And the babies receive from another cat the love and nurturing and comfort that, being orphans, they aren't able to get from their mother."
Kolbe the tuxedo boy has blossomed into a beautiful, healthy young cat.
Yesterday, Lucy, Levi, and Lucas officially graduated from foster care and off to their forever homes. Kolbe was so proud and excited to help more kittens in need.
"I love that my future fosters will have Kolbe and that he will have them. It enhances his own socialization and surrounds him with all the friends he could want," Lauren told us.
"It wasn't a foster fail when we adopted Kolbe. It was a win-win-win."
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