I’m beginning to think that I may be getting a reputation.
Word has obviously been spreading because that is the only answer to what keeps happening again and again.
Many who have read this column know of my belief that we, as good stewards, must care for animal life as well as humane. To that extent I’ve done what I can to try to keep the “community” cats that I’ve found as kittens from starving. Of the four males, Dad and I have been able to get three neutered in an attempt to stop the local colony from growing larger.
It seems that has been working somewhat as we have not seen the same number of felines walking down our street or across a neighbor’s yard as we did a couple years ago.
Along with the four males, we will get their mother showing up now and again. I’ve referred to her as a hussy in past columns because of her tendency to get pregnant and then return to our back yard to have her kittens. Besides her four sons outside, I have taken her daughter as an inside cat. This is Sassy. She got outside for a couple days and had a litter of three kittens, which have all found good, loving homes thanks to the Straycat Central group in Brookville.
Since then Sassy has remained inside playing with her toy mouse, watching birds from the bay window, eating her favorite food and getting as many pets as she wants. Sometimes I think she has taken over as she meows at us to follow her from the kitchen to the family room so we can refill her dish or sit down and pet her. Sometimes I think she just wants us in the same room with her.
With homes for the Sassy’s three kittens, things had gotten back to normal. She was inside; the boys were outside...why does that sound like an overprotective father from the 1930s?
The boys must have been talking about being able to find food to eat and occasionally a place to sleep out of the winter weather, because a few other cats showed up in the past few months. Three of the boys are all black and one is black and white so when a strange cat comes to eat it stands out amongst the crowd. A young calico had come to eat and decided to stick around, along with a few others that come and go –here one day and then gone for a day or two.
Last weekend Dad verbalized what I had just been thinking as we watched her. She looked a little pregnant.
It was just a day or two later that Dad called me at work and said, “Congratulations Grandma!” I knew who he was referring to immediately, what I hadn’t suspected was that she would have her kittens on the back porch high up on an old lawn chair cushion that was situated on top of a couple of plastic totes. There would be four little ones of varying size and color. Like Sassy’s brood, one is a yellow tiger in appearance and is the largest of the four.
Dad found the kittens because of another young cat’s actions. The calico had gone outside to the back deck and as Dad watched he saw a young feline that we suspect is female take something in its mouth and head for the deck as well. Dad thought it had a mouse. When he went out onto the porch, the skittish cat dropped what it was carrying and dashed out the door. As he approached the dropped item, he realized it was a recently born kitten. A search around had him locating the remaining three kittens and he returned the yellow tiger to the nest. The calico returned to her family and Dad decided to feed the other felines, including the boys, on the back deck rather than the porch in order to protect the kittens.
So far the family seems to be doing well. Mama seems content to lay with her kittens unless she is eating or using the litter box. She is skittish and doesn’t let us get too close to her. She will let me look at them but she makes sure she is close by on the floor. I’ve checked on the kittens but I have not tried to touch them as I hope to build trust in her before I do. I’m praying that these little ones may also find good, loving homes as Sassy’s kittens did.
However, I believe that these felines are talking to each other – especially about the safety and care that might receive by having, or bringing, their kittens to my door. I can’t explain it any other way.
I’ve always had a neutered male cat as a pet since I was a little girl. I have lived in this same house since I was 3 years old. Not counting the years we also had a dog, there have been other cats in the neighborhood but none of them brought their kittens to me nor did they have their kittens anywhere close to the house.
Something has changed and I don’t think I like it.
My brother would simply say, “don’t feed” the boys and “they all will simply move on” to other areas to seek food. That doesn’t work for the four boys outside. Even after going on vacation for almost 11 days, these four, albeit skinny, cats were waiting for my return.
A friend tells me I was “meant to be a mama.”
All I know is if the cat communication network isn’t stopped, I’ll have to change my name to “Mama J.”