Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life as we know it

The Hungry Cat

There is a pink playhouse in the yard at the house where I live now, a whimsical little building that I can’t make use of at this juncture in my life as it is clearly meant for children. Mid-life is a perplexing place to be. I am still a mother, but I have no children living here.

A few weeks ago I was outside cleaning the flower beds and saw a tabby cat with white boots and chest watching me from under the big spruce that shades the playhouse from the afternoon sun. The cat scurried under an opening in the wood pile along the back of the little house as I walked by, and I didn’t think much of it at the time. Living in town means the neighbour’s pets often walk through the yard, adding a bit of excitement to our little dog’s life when he spots them while perching on the back of the love seat along the front window. He badly wants to go out and introduce himself to the dogs or chase the cats. Last fall he took off after a rabbit, across the street, into a small bush and it took awhile before he found his way home.

Yesterday I noticed the rabbit is back. So is the cat. Except I think that the cat never left, as I started seeing her every day, first sitting in the grass and then on top of the plywood that covers the sandbox. Yes I have a sandbox, too. Cats love to poop in sandboxes so I expect that is why it is covered. Maybe the cat has been here all along.

Growing up, our house was a magnet for stray animals. My mother never turned anything away, in fact, the first thing she would do was feed whatever came into the yard. Then she’d give it a name. Some of the best pets were those who chose us instead of us choosing them.

Once there was a stray cat we named Kitten Little. We named her that likely because she was very small and looked young, but shortly after arriving had a batch of kittens of her own. I remember very little about Kitten Little except that she became my sisters’ cat and she wasn’t with us long. I think she was hit by a car shortly after having her kittens, and we ended up raising them. Imagine that, three girls and a batch of kittens. That has never happened before! We kept one, the baby that looked like Kitten Little and much like the cat that now lives under my wood pile.

I am in no great hurry to make friends with this cat. I have no desire to pat her or allow her furry body into the house. But she was a hungry cat so I went straight to the store and bought a bag of food. I could tell by the desperate look and pained meow and there is something else about her too, in the way her belly hangs loose and soft.

She is living on instinct right now and her daily routine is a pattern I recognize. She comes out in the morning and eats the morsels I leave for her, then goes back under the wood pile. She emerges an hour or so later and stays out for a few hours, never venturing far from the opening. If I go close, she scoots back under, even though she recognizes me as the lady who brings food.

Tempting as it is, I’ve resisted getting too close. I know what will happen if I do. She will move her nest and only come back to see me when she wants something to eat. If I am patient, soon little heads will begin poking out and a few days after that, the heads will be followed by fuzzy little bodies that will begin playing in the grass. I’m already wondering what colours they will be.

Occupants for the playhouse after all.

1 comment:

  1. Well, what an amazing coincidence! As you know Karen, Hailey our golden retriever loves kittens... she sort of adopted a kitten and to this day it is still curling up with her. The other day while opening our pool, Hailey became very distressed and alerted us to follow her into the bush. There they were eight day old kittens with ants and dung flies covering them. The mother clearly gone, perhaps by way of coyotes, I brought them in and Emma came home from the Vet clinic with kitten milk and bottles. We fed them every two hours over the next day and night until Emma could take them with her to work. She worked out a deal with the SPCA that the clinic would spay and neuter the kittens when they were old enough if they could take care of them and adopt them out. They are beautiful and one of them was an orange male tabby. Morris sprung to my mind and as I held this day old kitten teaching him to suck from a bottle, he held my fingers with his little paws and began to purr. They renewed a sense of life that I so desparately needed right now. These little animals are placed in our paths for a reason, just like your mommakat in the sandbox, somehow she knows that she and her babies are safe. Just like Mom when we were kids, she taught us that everything has a purpose and a right to live. Maybe Mom is giving us a sign or at least some remembrances of sweet childhood memories. Oh, and Kitten Little was the little mommakat that took on Max's mean daschound with one swipe. She didn't even move...Max's dog apparantly was a cat killer. It went howling back to his car in a hurry and Kitten Little didn't move from her spot and it happened so fast, the four kittens playing around her didn't even see the dog! I loved that cat with all my heart. Thankyou for the wonderful memory. Nance