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Washington Voices

Cat tale has happy ending

Thu., Feb. 3, 2011

Freeman School District bus drivers Katie Youngren and Dan Peery pet Eve, the adopted bus barn cat, on Jan. 19. (J. Bart Rayniak)
Freeman School District bus drivers Katie Youngren and Dan Peery pet Eve, the adopted bus barn cat, on Jan. 19. (J. Bart Rayniak)

She was cold and all alone. Her family was nowhere to be found.

But she was lucky.

The 3-week-old kitten was found near the bus barn at Freeman High School on Oct. 1. One of the bus mechanics, Everett Combs, wrapped her in an old T-shirt and carried her inside.

“We’re just glad we were able to save her,” Combs said

“She could just fit in the palm of your hand,” said Katie Youngren, one of the district’s bus drivers.

The kitten charmed everyone in the building. They decided to make her the bus barn’s mascot.

At first, the workers thought the kitten might be a male. They wanted to name it Bus-ter. When it turned out she was a girl, they all decided to name her after Combs, the mechanic who saved her. They call her Eve.

Youngren, 47, who was taking her own cats to the vet for check-ups that day, brought the tiny little thing with her to Valley Veterinary Clinic.

“This is a lucky cat,” the veterinarian told Youngren. Eve was found in an area close to Highway 27. Behind the school coyotes have been spotted.

Everyone took turns bottle feeding Eve, and she hung around the bus barn during the day. Soon, everyone worried she could get hit by a bus, so Eve, 4  1/2 months old now, stays with Youngren, her husband Karl, two daughters, their golden retriever, George, and three cats, Angel, Daisy and Pearl.

Eve’s story had such an impact on Youngren that the driver decided to write a poem about how the kitten was found.

She took the poem, added pictures of Evewhen she was found, delivered the materials to Type Craft in Spokane Valley, and it became a children’s book, “Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty: a True Story.”

Youngren is teaching herself the ins and outs of the publishing business. She called the state Department of Licensing, bought a license and started up Freeman Press. She ordered 100 copies at first, but they were gone in a week. She ordered another 100.

Youngren, who plays the mandolin, put the words of the book to music. She calls it her “Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty Ditty.”

She hopes to make many more books about the life of Eve, starting with coming home to meet Youngren’s other animals. “The Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty Makes New Friends” is expected to come out in June.

“She did turn out to be a pretty nice cat,” said driver Steve Meyer.

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