I got an interesting phone call this morning. Here’s what went down.
Oldest friend and her roommate have been feeding a feral cat who lives under their house. Apparently, the cat comes inside to eat but they hardly ever see it – so they took to calling it Santa (they put out food, food gets eaten, but the cat never makes an appearance). Last night, her roommate told her that he’d seen Santa come in the house, which was somewhat of an unusual occurrence. She didn’t think much of it, but in the night she heard some strange noises and in the morning found Santa barricaded in a dark corner of her room behind some stuff. And Santa had kittens.
Oldest friend called me because she didn’t know what to do about the possibility of kittens, or whether they had died, or how to deal with a feral cat mother. I suggested she get a flashlight to try to look in on the little family, move one of the obstacles, and then cover the whole den with a towel or blanket so Santa felt safe but could still get to the food and water she’d put down. She wasn’t sure at the time whether the kittens had been born that night or whether Santa had brought them up to den in the house from outside, because she couldn’t really see, it being dark in the Santa Cave. I also suggested she call the Humane Society to ask for advice on dealing with newborn kittens of a feral mamacat, and mentioned to her the possibility of Santa abandoning the litter, which would mean she’s probably have to bottle feed them until they could be taken to a shelter.
It reminded me of the time when I was six years old and we had a pregnant cat; we’d adopted her at 4 or 5 months and she was already (unexpectedly) knocked up before we even got her home. My mom made a little bed/nest out of an old diaper box (yes, diapers used to come in cardboard boxes)and an old towel, and showed the cat where the little bed was so she’d use it when the time came for the babies to be born. The cat had other ideas, however, and one night I awoke about 3 AM to find that the cat had decided on top of me (and my smurf sleeping bag) was a far better place to have them. I groggily climbed down out of my loft bed (I still don’t know how an enormously pregnant cat managed to get up that high) and went to tell my parents. The sleeping bag carried the stain of the catbirth until it fell apart, and the last kitten of that litter (there were three) died about five years ago at age 17.
This afternoon I got an email from Oldest Friend telling a truncated version of the story; turns out it was an already-born litter that Santa (now dubbed Mrs. Claus) decided to relocate. And I got this: