A few weeks into this last winter, a stray kitten adopted us. It huddled right outside our sliding glass door–like maybe there was a little bit of warmth leaking out around the threshold–a fuzzy, grapefruit sized lump, just sitting there, shivering, all day.
The winter before, a similar thing happened; the kitten hung around for a few weeks, then one day I saw it about a mile away, stiff and broken on a country road. I wondered if it had somehow been up under my hood and I'd driven off with it that morning, unwittingly dropping it there.
This year's kitten was more tenacious–it hung on, and hung on, huddling outside the door until we finally gave in, and as my sister-in-law pointed out–we fed it; it was ours. The kids even built it a house; they called it the cat-cave. A wooden box with a small hole in one end, and an old blanket. At some point I found cat food on my grocery list–and I bought it.
The kitten would lie in wait for the first arrivals of the day to open my door, then it would streak into the warmth of the kitchen. After being thrown out several days in a row, she was on to me–she'd run in and head directly for the gap behind my pantry; she'd hang out all day there, until I'd leave the room, and then she'd venture out to sharpen her claws on my flooring or my furniture. Catching her took some serious manuevering.
The cat grew–alarmingly fast, and soon, before the winter was even over, we'd concluded the thing was going to subdivide. I had no idea such a thing could happen. Talk about teen pregnancy–this thing wasn't even a year old. It didn't even have a name.
One morning the cat–still no name–sat outside the door whining unusually loud. She was thin, bleeding a little, and sure enough, we could hear little mews from inside the cat-cave. Over the next few days, with the help of a flashlight, we saw two distinct little bodies. Two kittens. Phew. I'd read up on cat reproduction, and found that a very young cat often had small litters. My youngest son wanted to keep them both and call them Morty and Shorty.
I explained to him that this would be too many cats. He thought about that, and decided that he could keep one, and his brother could keep one, and his sister could keep the Mom. Nice try, Buster.
My daughter decided it was time Shorty and Morty saw the light of day. She distracted the mother cat with a bowl full of food (this cat was ravenous–constantly whining for food and water; I remember how hungry I was when I was a nursing mother, but the amount of food this cat was putting away was really getting ridiculous) and stuck her arm into the box. Shorty. Morty. Wait–can you hear that? Oops, there's another. And . . . another . . . and another–six kittens in all. Or seven, we're not sure, because the box is big, the hole is on one corner, and we can't reach the entire thing.
No wonder Momma cat is starving!
The question now, is–well, besides does anyone want a cat (or six?)–Mom, what do we name them? He got to Shorty, Morty, and Borty, and then he was stumped. As long as it's not Forty, I think we're okay. We definitely need to do something before any of these kittens start subdividing. I will not be the cat lady!