As Robert Brantley was driving down the backroads of northeast Louisiana on Tuesday, something caught his eye. The professional shooter was going about 40 miles an hour as he headed toward the shooting range, but he thought he had seen a kitten on the side of the road.
He wasn’t sure though, so he turned his car around and went back to find out. In a video that he posted to Instagram, Brantley walks toward a single white and gray tabby kitten.
“Look — kitty, kitty,” Brantley calls toward the kitten.
Brantley picks the kitten up just as three more white kittens pop up in the grass. But it didn’t end there. In total, 12 kittens came out of the grass after the first one and ambushed the man who said he thought it was just a lone kitten.
“Oh, no, there’s a whole — oh, my gosh! I can’t take y’all. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh, there’s more! We got a kitten problem,” Brantley exclaims in his initial video. “Who would do this? I thought I was saving one. Hot diggity dog.”
Needless to say, Brantley had his hands full and did not make it to the range that day.
“I was not prepared for the kittens,” he told NPR. “I was just blown away.”
The 37-year-old said it was a wave of emotions as he realized someone had likely dumped the kittens on the side of the road at an age when they couldn’t fend for themselves.
Then he started the notably difficult task of herding the cats into his Honda hatchback.
“When I opened the door and started putting ’em in, they were jumping out. If I’d throw one in, three would run out,” he said. “But they would stay around my ankles on the ground. So I finally rolled down the windows, shut a door and started putting them inside where they couldn’t get out.”
Brantley then headed home with his baker’s dozen of kittens. The initial video gained a lot of traction on social media, and Brantley said thousands of offers for adoption started pouring in from all around the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
At this time, most of the litter is spoken for, with the exception of a couple of kittens that need a little extra attention, and a veterinarian is scheduled to stop by Thursday night to help out.
“We found some good people locally that want ’em, and I know that they’re all good people and they’re not doing anything bad with them,” he said. “We haven’t gave any of them away yet — they’re probably a little too young.”
Brantley has continued to share the kittens’ journey on his Instagram page, including playtime in the yard and the beginning of bath time, featuring one kitten Brantley has named Scout.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, Brantley said.
“It’s mind-blowing, to be honest with you, that so many people reach out and there’s a lot of people in the world wanting to do good,” he said. “I work in the gun industry, and … some people have took that negatively. And a lot of people, which I’m very thankful of, has said, like, ‘Wow … I’m surprised you’re not such a violent person’ or ‘You still have compassion and stuff.’ ”
That compassion and the generosity of people around the world wanting to help are what Brantley wants people to take away from his story.
“That’s kind of my thing is just I want people to know that no matter where you’re at and how much bad you see in the world, there’s still a lot of people — not talking about me — doing good things and not doing it for recognition,” he said.