Friday, September 27, 2013

Cats in the Cradle

I'm not a pet person.

At all.

My family had dogs and cats when I was growing up, but I never liked dogs and grew allergic to cats as I became older.

I'm never cruel to animals, mind you, and I don't certainly don't mean to disparage the bond of affection pet owners share with their pets.  I'm just content to live my life without that companionship. It's similar to my stance on tattoos, in that it's a deeply personal choice of great meaning to the person who makes it, but frankly none of the business of anyone else. My choice was that I would live my life without pets.

We've got a couple stray cats in the neighborhood, and Jen fed one of them when she came up to the back porch. It was against our better judgement, because once you feed a stray, you're never going to get rid of it, but this little thing was so tiny. Our neighbor described the cat as "emaciated" and that was exactly the right word for her. She was sad and skinny and googly-eyed.

Lily asked if we could keep the cat, and we said no, she might have owners who miss her and daddy was allergic. We were just feeding her because she was so hungry.

But...soon Lily was calling the cat Lucy, and soon, she had a bed in our back porch where she was staying all the time. Soon, pet food was a regular part of our grocery order. Soon, Lucy, didn't look so skinny anymore.

Soon, Lucy had shiny silver collar, and some pet toys. (She never really warmed to the laser pointer, though.) I reached out to a friend at Peaceable Kingdom, a wonderful organization, and she gave me some great advice about shots and neutering, advice I was unfortunately slow to follow, which brings us to the next part of the story.

I leave for work before Lily leaves for school and she likes to give me one last kiss while I'm in my car. Lucy follows people everywhere, and she followed Lily there, too. So I kissed Lily and told her to get back to the house, because I don't like pulling out when she's around. So she ran back, still being at the age where she runs everywhere. Lucy kept perfect pace with her. I've heard the phrase "at her heels", but I've never had cause to use it literally. It's really the only one that fits. Lily went and Lucy followed and I finally really understood why pet owners love their pets so much.

When I got home that day, Lucy was hanging out in our backyard. She had been putting on a lot of weight since we started giving her regular meals, and had started to look healthy maybe two months ago and kind of fat a few weeks after that. She came up to me and I realized, somewhat belatedly, "That cat isn't fat. That cat is pregnant."

Seriously. She was the second most pregnant living being I had ever seen. Here's a picture of the first.

Jen, at 60 weeks pregnant
So, I suspected it ahead of time, but not significantly ahead of time, because when Jen went to feed Lucy in the morning, she found that Lucy was doing some feeding of her own.  Jen observed on Facebook "Shooing the neighborhood strays off the backporch is not a reliable method of feline contraception."

Lucy had five little kitten in her little cat bed. Kittens are so tiny! They don't even open their little kitten eyes for the first few days.

Rather than make the predictable Price is Right joke here, I'll just observe that had I listened to my friend right away, we would be responsible for one-sixth the number of cats we were three days ago.

So, kitties stay with their mommy for some time. (We've read from eight to twelve weeks), and we're trying to figure out the best way to find homes for them. Lily's birthday party is coming up, and I thought we could give the kitties away as the BEST PARTY FAVOR EVER! My fallback plan is to stuff them all down my pants, and then shake them out my pant leg one at a time at a public place. They're so cute, they'd find owners right away.

If neither of those work, I'm open to suggestions.

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