Feline Solidarity

I don’t want any pets—I have enough dependents as it is.  And I don’t like cats.

But last weekend when Jeremiah found a mama cat domestically ensconced in our garage with her two tiny kittens, I couldn’t help but admire her.  In fact, to my great astonishment, and grasp as I might at the handle, the door to my heart flung wide open.

 

We hadn’t used the bike trailer for a month or two, and it was tucked beneath the hanging bikes facing the corner. The people door of the garage has a cat door too, a remnant from the lives lived here before us.

We hadn’t used the bike trailer for a month or two, and it was tucked beneath the hanging bikes facing the corner. The people door of the garage has a cat door too, a remnant from the lives lived here before us.

The kittens had their eyes open, so a knowledgeable cat person told me they must be a couple weeks old already. The mama cat was dutiful, turning her stomach toward her needy little babies for them to nurse. And friendly—she loved getting scratched and even tolerated me inspecting her mewing brood.

The kittens had their eyes open, so a knowledgeable cat person told me they must be a couple weeks old already. The mama cat was dutiful, turning her stomach toward her needy little babies for them to nurse. And friendly—she loved getting scratched and even tolerated me inspecting her mewing brood.

I checked on her all day Sunday, visiting her after dinner to tell her that I had put fish scraps in the compost bin.  It must be stressful to have to hunt or scavenge your food every night, especially knowing she was scavenging for three.  She was perpetually there with those kittens, whether they were eating or sleeping.  I felt a pang of sympathy for the boring life she must be leading right now, trapped in the role of motherhood—and a single parent to boot.

I checked on her all day Sunday, visiting her after dinner to tell her that I had put fish scraps in the compost bin. It must be stressful to have to hunt or scavenge your food every night, especially knowing she was scavenging for three. She was perpetually there with those kittens, whether they were eating or sleeping. I felt a pang of sympathy for the boring life she must be leading right now, trapped in the role of motherhood—and a single parent to boot.

Monday morning I gave her a good-morning pat before I left for work.  Sure enough, she was still faithfully curled around the babies when we got home in the afternoon.  She seemed contented enough in the role, or at least resigned.

Milo proudly showed the kittens off to his friend after school, who stayed to play.  “You can look, just don’t pick up those kittens, boys” I admonished them.  They rode bikes and brandished sticks, creating a hullabaloo in the yard and terrorizing the girls.

“You didn’t touch those kittens, did you?” I inquired after the friend had left, surveying the massive puddle of water they had left on the garage floor.

“We did pick them up,” Milo informed me, cheerfully.  He has not developed a healthy level of guilt, the little snot.  I shot him a withering glance, which bounced off him ineffectively.  I put a bit of sausage in the compost for the cat that night.

The next morning, as I was growling and searching blindly for my glasses which Milo had been playing with in direct disregard of my orders  (“But you wear contacts Mom, why do you need both?”), Milo trotted outside and returned with the news that the cats were no longer in the bike trailer.  Giving up on the glasses, I inserted my contacts and went out to confirm the declaration.  They were indeed gone.  “Milo,” I wailed, “They’re gone because you picked the kittens up yesterday!” I made a few half-hearted attempts to look for them in the tower of cardboard boxes we keep in the corner of the garage in case we move, but I knew they weren’t there.

“Where did they go?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I moaned.  “Cats will move their babies if they’re disturbed.”  My baleful glare bounced off his untroubled personage.  He had just scared away my pet.  And there was nothing I could do to get her back.  She’s probably gone back to her own home, but the knowledge didn’t comfort me.  I stood at the kitchen counter, aggressively beating sugar into butter for a batch of birthday-celebratory cookies, feeling very uncelebratory indeed.

“Do you think she’ll come back?” I asked my cat-knowing friend later that day.  “Well, she might,” she said.  That’s Kiwi for “Don’t Count On It, But I’m Too Polite To Tell You NO Directly.”

I remain in mourning.

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3 thoughts on “Feline Solidarity

  1. Same thing happened to us in the 80’s in Southern Cal. Mama moved the kittens when I got too attentive, then she returned with them a month later, when they were fully mobile. Needless to say we then had to remove them from our yard at 3 months of age & listened to her yowl for 3 nights straight. I still hear it in my head. Much more unpleasant than the first time she left with them. Good luck with whatever the outcome.

    • Jeremiah noticed the mommy cat leaving the garage again the other day–and discovered that she had hidden the kittens in the towering stack of boxes we keep in the corner. This time when I pay my respects I don’t tell the kids about her at all–she’s become a secret pet. I wonder what she’ll do when the kittens become more mobile?

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