☆ May 18, 2011
Feral Kitten Girl arrived at my door one sunny autumn day, as had become her custom, but this time, she had her four kittens in tow. And she didn’t leave again. The kittens had a nest under my deck to which they would flee if they were frightened, but most of their time was spent exploring my home and the immediate surroundings, or sleeping in a pile: inside, on a huge pillow beside my desk, or outside, in the sun beside the woodpile. Feral Kitten Girl luxuriated in doing a whole lot of nothing, her responsibilities having dropped down to nursing. She’d gaze at me with a look of blissed out gratitude: “thanks for the food, for the safe haven, for watching my babies for me…. and now I’m going to take another nap.”
Eli, in contrast, was DISPLEASED.
Nevermind that they were probably his kittens (please don’t yell me an email about neutering Eli, it’s a waste of time. Eli has me under mind control. Though he has said when they start performing reversible vasectomies on all 16 year old guys, he, too, will have the procedure).
Though the four kittens and their mama worshiped Eli and eagerly surrounded him when he came home each morning, Eli responded to their swarm with a vicious hiss as he sprung over them in a flying leap to the stairs, and, with another great leap, escaped to the relative peace of the loft.
Some people assume that Eli is not an affectionate cat because he is so tough, but in truth, Eli loves attention. He needs it. I made a point of keeping Eli’s Love Quota steady and certain, and, thankfully, within a month, he had warmed to the new residents, and it soon became common to find them all napping together on my bed.
Feral Kitten Girl was no longer an appropriate name. It was never a proper name and now even more so, as she was no longer feral and, a mother many times over, no longer remotely a kitten or a girl. I named her Rue, short for Ruger. Beautiful Rue.
The kittens got names as well. There were two males: one solid black and the other a gray on gray stripe; and two females: one a soft mottled gray and the other tan and black tiger striped.
Gray girl had, from the very beginning, an absolute handful of flub ~ extra skin and fat and fuzz at her belly between her hind legs ~ which was (is) so much fun to smush. I started calling her Mushy. Though I’ve noticed very few people pronounce her name properly. It is not “mushy,” with the vowel sound of “LUSH.” It is “Mushy,” with the vowel sound of “PUSH.” Mushy! She looks like a cartoon in every way.
The other female was also quickly named. Her name is Kettle. Months before, Mike had found an old cast iron kettle out in the hills and, knowing I love that sort of thing, lugged it home for me. I keep it next to my woodstove and throw all my paper trash in it to use as firestarter. Kettle loved to climb into the kettle and curl up inside and sleep. Mike called her ‘the kettle kitten’ which I shortened to “Kettle.”
As for the boys… in the early days, I always referred to the black one as “the black one,” and then, one day, Mike remarked how the other male, the gray striped one, was “so gray he was practically blue.” And it was true ~ his fur was a cool, steel blue color. And so I declared the boys would, henceforth, be called Black and Blue.
I wanted to take Rue and all the kittens in to get spayed and neutered once the kittens were old enough to be weaned, and before they went off to their new homes (which turned out to be not much of an adjustment ~ Black and Blue now live with Mike; he’d been wanting a kitten for ages and I told him he really should take two, so they would have company, and my sister was going to take the girls but she changed her mind so they are here with me, along with Rue and Eli, and it’s hard to remember life before they were a part of it; I’m so glad she changed her mind).
However, in that tiny space of time between the kittens being weaned and my getting them all to the vet, I noticed Rue’s belly starting to get round and full again! “HOW did she manage to get bred again so fast, and without my noticing?” I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe it. But there she was, getting rounder and rounder by the day. And so I started feeding her more ~ raw meat, endless dry food, and treats ~ to make sure she stayed nourished through her pregnancy.
She got HUGE. Her head and hind legs remained dainty, but her body was a sphere. Mike called her Mama Football. I prepared a nesting box for her, filled with blankets, which she rarely left. Mike and I were certain she was going to have her litter any day. And then she went into heat. Which, if you’ve ever witnessed, is impossible to ignore or mistake for anything but a cat in heat.
Rue was not pregnant. She was obese!
I called the vet and got them all in immediately and, when I explained that Rue was a feral who had adopted me, they said they would check her teeth to determine her age. I kind of brushed it off, thinking she had to be about three, since she was so, so small when I first met her at the corrals. I was wrong. She is seven. She lived hard and rough for seven years. And now she has it made. But she is on a diet.