Gone Kitties

Have I mentioned that we have kittens—well, had, but I’ll get to that later. Perhaps you saw something about this my Facebook photos or Instagram feed. That I haven’t written about them already is, I suppose, some travesty on the part of someone who claims to be a blogger (something that I will have much more time for in the immediate future, but let’s save that for a separate post unto itelf). Getting back to the subject at hand—kittens.

When we got our cat, Tallulah, awhile back (something I have already written about) we were told she was “fixed.” She was not, a fact soon deduced by her swelling belly which in the late stages of her pregnancy would move revealing the squirming life forms lurking below the surface.

One evening as my wife sat reading in bed the cat leapt onto the covers searching for a soft spot to rest her heavy frame.

“Look at the size of her vag!” my wife exclaimed. The gleeful excitement in her voice told me she had been Googling “cat pregnancy” again, and armed with such knowledge my wife was all too eager to share what she had learned. “The larger her vagina gets the closer she is to giving birth,” she went on without me soliciting an explanation.

Under other circumstances I might have responded with an ambivalent grunt just to be polite, but at the moment worry mixed with disgust as I stared down the business end of the cat’s distended vagina now being flaunted only inches from my face. It was as if Tallulah knew we were talking about her and, on cue, she thought it best to provide a 3-D illustration for me. The thought of some slimy blob dropping onto my chest compelled me to shove the cat away immediately.

“Be nice,” my wife said. “She’s pregnant.”

But I had been nice. In the weeks after discovering she was with kittens, I had shown the cat a great deal of leeway and affection. No longer did I chase her with a rolled up magazine for clawing up furniture or ripping down the curtains. I even scratched her chin once in a while. And the attention seemed to be appreciated as Tallulah no longer passive-aggressively pissed on my favorite rug.  

Finally the time came for the kittens to arrive, an event announced at bedtime by, “Mom, there’s something coming out of the cat’s butt.” And indeed there was. Over the course of an hour mama cat delivered five kittens each of which came packaged like sausages in a thin membrane that she then licked off.

“Just like Google said!” my wife squealed.

By early the next morning these palm-sized balls of fur had new names: Schrödinger, Coco, Maisey, Bruce, and DESTROYER.       

“I wonder where their dad is at?” one of my kids asked as they crowded around mama who was now nursing her litter.

“Well, dad cats are called ‘tomcats’ and they don’t tend to stick around after they get the mamas pregnant,” I answered. And recognizing this as a teachable moment I pointed out to my stepdaughters that if they ever hear a boy being referred to as a “tomcat” then that means he’s a lady’s man who will just love them and leave them.

This was met by a quizzical expression from my oldest stepdaughter who is in middle school. “You’re weird, Ron.”

After a moment focus was restored to the kittens but thoughts about their father were still on my other stepdaughter’s mind. “Well one thing’s for sure,” she said dryly noting the common color of their fur. “Tallulah must’ve f&%ked a black cat.”  Once the shock wore off from realizing what had come out of my stepdaughter’s mouth (and hysterical laughter suppressed), a stern reprimand was issued for the use of language.

In the weeks that followed the kittens grew exponentially while I counted the days until they could be given away. I wanted them gone as soon as possible before anyone grew too attached to them which deep down I knew was an impossibility gauging by the number of cat toys and accessories my wife had been buying, nearly bankrupting us in the process. The ideal time for this would have been while the girls were away visiting their father for the summer.

Strategically thinking, I didn’t want the girls being upset over leaving their father only to come home and relive heartache all over again watching the kittens being given away.  However, you know what they say about the best laid plans, and the kittens, who had somehow managed to win me over with their cuteness, remained for another month.

The problem, of course, was that the kittens were becoming a fixture around the house. Everyone knew they couldn’t stay but no one was willing to draw the line as to when would be the time for them to leave. I broached the subject several times but never followed through because I wasn’t ready to witness the inevitable shower of tears that would ensue. No parent likes to see their children sad, and so when we found a wonderful home for Schrödinger, I quickly offered to take everyone for ice cream as soon as their eyes dried.  

Now we were left with four kittens that appeared not to notice the departure of their sibling. For Tallulah, though, it was a different matter. One of her babies was nowhere to be found, and I felt sad watching her search the house for little Schrödinger calling for him with long, sorrowful meows.

At some point, Tallulah’s despair turned to an animosity she directly attributed to me. I say this because each morning after would reveal a fresh pile of cat shit on our living room carpet. Understand, this was no mere relapse in housecat protocol; it was a clear message from Tallulah that if I messed with her family she would mess on my carpets. I dreaded the thought of what would be in store for me once the remaining four kittens were gone, and I envisioned a gift, most foul, heaped atop my bedroom pillows.

My wife, knowing my strong feelings about animal fecal matter in the house, attempted to intercede by getting to the living room before me to erase the evidence, but the bleachy smell of spot remover and mine field of paper towels on the floor told me that not only was Tallulah crapping on the floor but that the kittens (who I will point out were litter-trained) were as well.   

Despite great restraint on my part, I finally lost it after happening upon DESTROYER crouched down in that unmistakable stance, his backend hovering purposefully just above the rug. Beaning the kitten in the head with a volume of Hemingway’s short stories only delayed things long enough for him to run under a table and finish his business.

I’d like to think that the other kittens in whatever cat language they speak had a long, heartfelt talk with DESTROYER over what he had done because the free reign they all enjoyed over the house was no more. I turned into a raving lunatic overturning couch sectionals and arm chairs in a mad hunt for surprised scurrying kittens as I ranted about not tolerating animal crap in my house, a pet peeve rooted in some grotesque childhood experiences.

“That’s it!” I seethed. “These cats are gone by the end the week. All of them.” 

My wife, who had grown weary of her new morning routine, agreed, and for the remainder of the week Tallulah and her brood were incarcerated in the garage like inmates awaiting extradition to a penitentiary—in this case the local animal shelter.

The days that followed passed without incident. In fact, the cats seemed to be doing fine in this new arrangement. However, this did nothing to change their fate, and when Saturday afternoon came the kittens were rounded up and loaded into the van.

Tallulah, though, was allowed to remain in a last minute reprieve. The reason: She was the girls’ first real pet, and I couldn’t take her away. Not like this anyway, regardless of how I felt. I would just have to weather the impending and literal “shit” storm that was about to come from her.

But it never came.

The kittens have been gone for almost a week, given to the care of the animal shelter via a dropbox similar to those used to return library books, and Tallulah has reverted to her old self. She’s affectionate, playful even. And I can’t help from thinking that maybe those kittens were actually driving her crazy too.   

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