THE PAINS OF REARING PETS: part four

kitty nursing

I was in a quagmire; I didn’t know what to do with Kitty. I knew if I let her go out there she would come back ‘knocked up’ and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take care of her progeny; was she even prepared to take care of them? We had ‘babied’ her so much; but at the same time I hated seeing her in that state. There she was, ‘burning up’ on the inside and the only solution I had was to give in to her wishes; hand her over on a silver platter to a stray cat that looked ferocious; and his horny state had nothing to do with his general appearance, he just seemed naturally wild. I had seen a few cats around but him? Never had I laid my eyes on him before, and the circumstances under which we met didn’t make the situation any better.

“What has Kitty gotten herself into?” I cursed desperately. I was just standing there at the kitchen entrance befuddled, as I watched our once innocent moggie cry incessantly to be freed, so she could go satiate her wanton desires. But even as I stood there, unsure of my next move, I couldn’t find it in my heart to be angry at her, or for the irritating groans that were driving me nuts. It was something even a modest feline like her couldn’t will away; nature had held her spellbound.

I knew sooner or later I would have to do something; I could only take so much, and I was already reaching my elastic limit.

Her inflamed state made her acutely aware of any slight movement in the house. She had realized we were holding her captive in the house, and she was determined to find a way out; it didn’t matter if it was through the windows, which were now closed or through the doors. The worst part about the whole she-bang was that even when I wasn’t keeping an eye on her, I couldn’t do anything constructive with all the noise emanating from her and the other male cat that was now perched on the kitchen window ledge outside calling out to his mate. The caterwauling alone was enough to get me to call the animal control department.

I can’t quite recall how long the madness lasted; all I know is that it went on for far too long. It all came to an end one morning when my mom was leaving for work. We had successfully managed to keep her indoors all through that tormenting period but when my mom opened the door Kitty dashed out. My mom notified me instantly that she had escaped. Furiously, I got out of bed, draped on my nightgown as I was still in my pyjamas and I left through the backdoor. The search only lasted for about two minutes, as I found her behind a water tank that was only a few steps from the door.

I sighted her on the ground, with her head down low, hindquarters raised high, with the stray male positioned brazenly on top of her… on reflex I tried to shoo them, but they didn’t seem to notice my presence; I bent down, as if to pick a stone, but they didn’t even flinch. I was in utter shock…

I skedaddled back to the house and woke my sister up, “Kitty sneaked out and she’s out back mating with the other grey cat”.

“What’s that?” she asked.

I knew she’d heard me clearly but I repeated it anyway, “kitty’s out back, with the grey cat!” We rushed to the kitchen window from where we could get a clear view of that blasted sight. The honey moon phase was already over and now the two moggies seemed like they were ready to bite each other’s heads off. Kitty resembled a savage; she was hissing, trying to claw her rival, who a few minutes ago was giving her a taste of heaven… For a minute or two I entertained the thought that she was acting out because of guilt and shame; perchance after sharing such an intimate moment with him she was now feeling dirty and used? Guess I’ll never understand animals.

Eventually her partner left and she was left cleaning up…my sister and I on the other hand just walked to the livingroom, awash with disbelief, waiting for the inevitable; kittens.

For our feline, life didn’t resume normalcy as yet; every now and then she would chirr but thankfully it wasn’t as intense as before. She spent so much time seated at the door, as if she was looking out for something. It’s like she was waiting for the grey cat to return, but he never showed up. Slowly she got the drift, he was never coming back and her disturbing yowls died down.

A few months later, on one rainy Saturday she gave birth to four little kittens. It was only six in the evening, but because of the dark clouds, it seemed rather late. We knew she was going into labour when she started pacing restlessly, meowing like she was in pain. I was nervous, confused; I didn’t know what to do to help her as I’d never been in that situation before and my sister wasn’t of much help either. She was as callow as I in that field. We just set up a box and lined it with newspapers for the delivery; but at the same time I couldn’t hide my excitement.

Watching Kitty in labour was unnerving; she would get out of her box, then get back in…she was frantic. We sympathized with her, but at the same time we were afraid of interfering; as kids we had been made to believe that if one touched a kitten during birth the mother cat would eat it. That thought alone rendered us onlookers. By midnight that day, our house had four new tiny residents.

Kitty’s maternal instincts kicked in immediately; she nursed and cleaned her little ones’ whose fur was barely visible. Three of them were mainly grey and white, and the fourth one was purely black; it died a week later. When the remaining three were old enough we gave them to friends, who couldn’t resist their charm when they visited us. Kitty didn’t understand what had happened to them; she’d call out to them, but to no avail…she moved on.

About three months later-which if you ask me was too soon- she was at it again; but this time around she was subtle enough; she did it away from home. The details I have of her second pregnancy are a bit scanty, all I remember is that she ended up with two beautiful kittens; we contemplated keeping them, but three pets? That was one too many. We gave both of them to our family doctor.

We had had enough of the moggie drama; my mom arranged for our pet to be spayed. She stayed at the animal center for two days, when she came back she had a huge scar on her belly. It was a sore sight, as the spot had been shaven completely, exposing the visible sutures. She looked depressed; most of the time she stayed in her basket, just observing our movement. At times she would bite on the stitches, clearly irritated by their unusual presence. She wouldn’t come to us, so we went to her. We stroked her gently; she seemed to appreciate it; she would nuzzle our arms. Our TLC saw her through that storm and before long she was back to her old lively self. Her fur grew back; she was as good as new.

Goodbyes are never easy. Later that year, in mid-November we moved. We’ve moved like six times since I was a kid and I find it a very nostalgic affair; leaving friends behind, moving to new places, meeting new neighbours. There’s nothing easy about it. However, this time it felt ten times worse; it was excruciating; we couldn’t move with Kitty. Pets were not allowed in our new neighbourhood; the estate management warned residents strictly against it.

A fortnight before that day, when we ascertained we’d be moving we made arrangements with our family doctor to come pick our kitty up. It would weigh heavily on her more than it did us, that we knew evidently. Cats don’t like moving, and now to make matters worse she was moving to a new home with a new family. On the eve of our moving day our doctor showed up and left with kitty… I felt we had betrayed her, but we were only victims of the circumstances…

The agony that washed over me wouldn’t have been any extreme if it was one of my family members I was leaving behind. The only comforting thought was that she would be re-united with her last two kittens as they had been taken by the same doctor…that solemn departure torments me to date…

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