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.
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.