I reached the door and opened it as quietly as I could. I leaned against the frame and peered out onto the porch where a mother cat and her four kittens gobbled morsels and drank fresh water. I watched them for several minutes until they had had their fill. The dish was empty, so the kittens began to explore.
I am fond of the tortoise shell mom who comes to my front door regularly and reminds me it is time for dinner. I don’t keep the world’s best schedule as she has found out. Still, she trusts me enough to stand on her hind legs and peek into the house. She offers me one quiet but direct meow. When I open the door, she skedaddles a distance where I can’t grab her and yet she’s still in my yard.
Last month I began by placing various dry cat foods in a dish, then added a scrap of chicken and a bowl of water. She looked pregnant when I met her then. Later when I saw her again, she was thinner with the tell-tale signs of nursing. I wondered where the kitties were that she must have born.
From my chair, I watched outside as I noticed a small something climb on a piece of wood in the forested lot across the street. I studied the distance and realized I was watching kittens jumping up and down and climbing a fence. Later that day, the mother came again, and then again with the young ones in tow. From a window I snatched a glimpse of them clamoring for the food; but when I opened my door, they dashed away and well beyond any sight line.
At night I pray for the mother and her kittens and wish that I could tame them, so they could enjoy a family that loved and cared for them. There are two orange tabbies, a grey tabby and a tortoise shell kitten. They mind their mother when she cleans them and oversees their adventures.
The other day, she asked for food; I fed her. She ate a teaspoonful then was gone. A few minutes later, I looked outside, and she had fetched the kittens for supper. They looked at me this time through the screen window and didn’t run. When they had finished, she ate the leftovers; then she casually but intentionally walked away. As she scampered away, I heard her meow in the dark for her kittens.
A mother’s work is never done.
Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]