They were born on September 1. The mother was a frequent visitor, having smelt a cat-adorer in the house. This cat-adorer (CA for short) was thus delighted to find three kittens in the cupboard among the household linen. A box with comfortable bedding was prepared and the babies instated. Father and son proudly showed off the litter to visiting friends, of course, if the feline and human moms were not around.
It’s said that cats shift the litter seven times during the nurturing phase. In this case, though, the shifting was done by packers and movers. Father and son moved the litter-box from cupboard to kitchen, kitchen to Room 1, Room 1 to Room 3, back to kitchen, a few days more in Room 3.
The babies opened their eyes when they were a couple of weeks old. They now had a play-box and a bed-box, each with suitable cut-outs for easy movement.
Have you seen kittens playing? – That’s a real sight for sore eyes, and you have this from a Cat Tolerator. On the store room floor were - a cobweb remover, an unused water can, and an empty PET jar. The three of them would climb, pull, push, bite, tumble over as they played with each other and these toys. And have several play sessions before falling all over mom to draw much-needed sustenance. As they fed, she would lick them clean in turn, and then all four would be peacefully asleep, with not a care in the world.
One morning I noticed tell-tale feathers around, and CA helpfully explained: “you see, she brings them things that they should be familiar with, to let them see, feel, and understand that feathered creatures are potential palate-pleasers”
That was time for the next shift. At Room 1, it was a squirrel's turn to serve as an example. During all these weeks, even as the kittens grew, another cat-lover was also developing…my son. After school every day he would visit with the family first before washing and changing for lunch. Usually one to pinch nose and turn away at such things, he picked up the broom and dustpan, and collected the squirrel’s remains and disposed of them – not before showing me the sight.
By this time, the knowledgeable CA had installed a third box filled with sand. I wonder if the mom-cat appreciated the fact – when I mentioned it to her - that such care had not been lavished during the son’s potty-training 8 years ago. [For a quick lesson on potty training for cats, see 'Litter-Kwitter']. Father and son meticulously change the sand every two or three days. But lessons in cat-rearing some other time.
A few days at Room 1, and the babies became tired of the same toys and scenery. It was Room 3’s turn, and my son was happy, he now had room-mates. Here they no longer needed boxes…there were plenty of places and corners and niches to run around. The laundry bag and several school project props were ample distractions. After play, the three would cuddle in the narrow space between the PC’s tower cabinet and the monitor, never realizing that a mouse was close by.
This time, I only heard that it was the turn of a chameleon, and thankfully I never got to witness the third lesson. But the domestic help who had remained mum till then, mildly told me… ”Madam, pl get them removed from the house”. She did not know that I had tried several times, and had always given in to two pairs of entreating eyes – if we don’t take care, who will? - and four pairs of liquid green ones…
I had my way when I got to actually see what the cat was bringing in…a dead mynah clutched in her jaws. The garage was warmed and the family ensconced. That was a Monday. On Wenesday my son said accusingly. "Because of you one kitten is missing”.
The (equally sad) CA explained to him that cats are naturally curious, B&W kitten must have ventured out to explore and may come back eventually. After a sober evening, when all was quiet that night, mom-cat called out, and CA opened the door for her. A customary few minutes of scratching followed, that was when they heard the distinctive meow from somewhere. Up jumped CA, and ran to the road, with mom close on his heels; the sound came from a house across the road. Feet flew thither, and mom reached baby first. Comfort feeding, warm milk, soothing words later, the house and garage settled again for the night. Absolutely no marks for guessing who was the happiest and most relieved of the threesome who came back ‘home’….