adventures in kitten love

15 Jul

Annie.  Oh, that girl and her cats.  She is in love.

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Last Fall, we got 2 female outdoor kittens.  Over the winter, those kittens grew up.  And then Spring came—and we all know what happens when Spring fever hits? 

Mating.  Lots and lots of mating!

We had sensed that the cats might be in heat, and I noticed an influx of Tomcats from afar coming upon our property and sizing up our lady cats.  So, I prepped the kids that they might see Sweetie and Co-Co “hugging” with one of the visiting cats.  I knew they would freak out if they saw some big ole’ Tomcat on top of one of their kitten.  So, in my usual parenting awesomeness, I explained that kittens mate by hugging.  “Isn’t that cool?  All they have to do is hug and then that Momma will get to have babies in her belly.” 

It’s that simple, right? 

And wouldn’t you know it?  The very next morning, the kids came downstairs only to find mating in full swing:  "The cats are hugging, the cats are hugging…we are going to have baby kittens!" the kids excitedly yelled.

And then all the live long morning the cats hugged…and hugged….and hugged some more.  It was…awkward.   And oh how I wished they hadn’t chosen to do their hugging right outside the bay window that overlooks our back yard.  No amount of washing my eyes out could get rid of the image of all that “hugging.” 

That afternoon, we had a repair guy working in our kitchen at the same time that Jason arrived home and was greeted with, “Daddy, the kittens hugged ALL morning!  We are going to have so many kittens!”  The repair guy was equally humored and mortified as the kids went on and on about what they saw.  Eventually, Jason had to tell them that we would have to talk about the hugging later—and by that he meant, never again!  Because, awkward.

And then about 2 months later, the first litter was born—6 healthy kittens:  Leo, Zebra, Chocolate, Big Boy, Remus and Marley.  The kids were in awe and even got to see the last one be born.  Sweetie, the momma cat, did an amazing job loving and caring for her little kittens.  The kids ooohhhed and ahhhhed and spent hours just staring at the kittens. 

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And 2 weeks later, Co-Co’s litter came along—5 more healthy kittens:  Patches, Whiskers, Suzy, Benny and Franklin.  That momma cat was a little more resistant to the parenting thing, but got her groove on within a day or two.  

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Our detached garage had suddenly become a cat factory with  11 kittens and 2 Mommas.  That’s a lotta felines for one family, especially when the kittens began walking, eating, and pooping.  Yes, the poop!  so! much! poop! everywhere!  While we litter box trained them, those little kittens do not exactly have the best aim.  And while the abundance of poop was a bit much at times, apparently the whole cleaning themselves thing was an acquired skill that takes lots and lots of practice.  Jason can speak to that more than I, as he had to bathe one of them who needed a bit of motivation, shall we say, to clean his bottom up.  Eww!

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Sweetie’s cats have more or less weaned and so we have been able to adopt them out to friends and hopefully trustworthy Craigslist’s people.  The first 2 left last weekend and Analise, the main human caretaker, cried big ole’ crocodile tears.  She knew they would eventually have to find a new home, but in her world, “If I had enough money, I’d pay to spay and neuter them all and then buy all of their food and litter because I just don’t want them to go to anyone else.”  Poor kid.  We were momentarily conflicted as well, and then a cat pooped on the floor and we were reminded that it was time for them to get new homes.

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But, Annie’s world was very sad.  As she explained, “I was brave when those people were here looking at the cats, but I just couldn’t be brave once they left.  Instead, I’m just so sad.”  And then she sobbed.  And prayed that night that the people would take good care of her kittens.  Thank goodness the rest of that litter went to friends, as she is holding out hope that those kitties will remember her when she gets to visit them.

The last litter will be weaned in a few weeks and another round of good byes will be inevitable.  I’m not sure Annie’s heart can take anymore departures, so for now, she lives in denial hugging and petting them all the live long day.  Now that?  Is my kind of “hugging.”

 

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