Caretaker both angry, relieved after kitten’s return

October 13, 2018

Gigi Mitchell didn’t want to swear.

But the Santa Fe silversmith is seething with anger.

She’s angry that someone would break into a cage at a local pet store and steal a kitten she fostered while it awaited adoption.

Angry that someone would then dump the kitten back at the scene of the crime the next day with obvious signs of abuse.

Angry that an animal she raised would be exposed to some kind of toxin, possibly even methamphetamine.

“Basically, they have poked the bear, and they better pray I’m not left alone in the same room with them,” Mitchell said Thursday, referring to the still-unidentified perpetrator.

“I’m Hispanic. I’m a New Mexican. I will take you out,” she said. “Once a ranch girl, always a ranch girl.”

While Mitchell remains outraged, she also is relieved the gray-and-white kitten named Midge appears to be making a full recovery. Mitchell, who has been a volunteer foster parent with the pet rescue organization Felines and Friends New Mexico, is temporarily taking care of Midge as the kitten recovers from the ordeal.

“I still don’t know how they managed to burn her whiskers,” Mitchell said as Midge darted back and forth and jumped on the furniture in Mitchell’s home in southwest Santa Fe. “I don’t even want to think about it.”

Midge was ripped out of a playpen at Petco on Cerrillos Road sometime between 1:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday. The next day, a Petco manager found Midge abandoned among the dog beds. She was wearing a sweater, a collar, a leash — none of which she had in the pen — and acting strangely.

“When you put her down, instead of just behaving like a normal kitten and walking away, she kept turning to the left, turning to the left, biting at her skin,” Mitchell said. “Have you ever seen a person that’s wigged out on meth and they itch all over? Same behavior, same behavior. Just itching, grabbing at her sides, eyes dilated out.”

Midge’s eyes were so dilated that the idea that she was exposed to meth was batted around, Mitchell said.

“It could’ve been a number of things, but they were concerned that it was possibly even some kind of nervous system toxin or anything like that because she couldn’t walk a straight line. It was really sad,” she said.

The case was reported to Santa Fe police, but the investigation appears to be at a standstill.

“Our investigations unit has not received the cat case yet, and after reading it they will decide what to do,” police spokesman Greg Gurulé said in an email.

A manager at the local Petco referred inquiries to the store’s corporate offices.

“At Petco, the health and safety of animals is always our top priority and we take what happened to Midge very seriously,” a company representative said via email Thursday night. “We are cooperating with local authorities, and in an effort to help, Petco has paid for Midge’s veterinary care.”

Mitchell said she hopes police will catch the perpetrator. In the meantime, she’s hopeful the Midge, who turned 3 months old on Thursday, won’t suffer any long-term effects and will someday find a loving and permanent home. She said the veterinary hospital that treated Midge has been inundated with phone calls from people who are interested in adopting her.

“After all she’s been through,” Mitchell said, “she deserves a really, really killer home.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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