Thursday, November 20, 2008


I was sitting in my office, procrastinating last week, when I looked out of the window and saw the gray-striped tiger cat that lives in our neighborhood sitting on the picnic table. Then I did a double-take: there were four cats out there. The one I’m used to seeing—and three kittens. The kittens were playing on the deck. They rolled around, stretched in the sunshine. They leapt up onto the garden bench, leapt down again. They batted at the dying asparagus plant, slithered through the gap between the fence and the shed and came out on the other side, tails up high, waving. Mom watched over them from the picnic table, a sphinx.

They scattered when I opened the door, and disappeared under the deck. I sat on a cold garden steppingstone, and pretty soon one little face appeared, then another. They didn’t come out, just looked at me. It made me laugh. That point-of-view thing I’m always talking about.

Who is this person in our playground?

Of course, I had to feed them. One by one, they came out and ate. Two stripy gray cats; a third, longer and leaner, with some yellow in him. And Mom, who watched over them, waiting to eat until she was sure they’d had all they wanted. Satisfied, they all skedaddled back under the deck again.

One of the great things about having taught high school for so many years is that there is always a former student who knows something (usually a lot) about whatever it is I want to know. So I e-mailed Mary Lee, CCL (Crazy Cat Woman.)

She wrote back: Yay kittens! How old are they!? Are they friendly? What colors are they and how old do you think they are? Can you take their pics and email me?! Feed them dry food only in the morning. If you feed at night other critters with find it. Also, create some kind of a cozy little bed for them – a box with towels. I can get the kittens into a fosterer right away! And, can get them spayed/neutered, all shots, Revolution, etc. this Sunday at $25 per kitten.

It’s been kitten central around here this week. My granddaughter, Heidi, helped me make the bed. My grandson, Jake, who’s been staying with me all week, helps me feed them every morning. He named the mom, “Mom.” He named the two gray kittens, “Julia” and “Emily.” He named the other one, “Kitten.”

He wrote a story about the kittens at school: I saw 4 blac cats in my Grammo's bacyrde and we fed the blac cats evre murning we fed them and they live under the purch and thae luve to eat.

Now they all come out when the back door opens. They come up the steps, meowing, and let us pick them up to pet them. Jake’s fascinated by their bony little backs. Heidi wants to mother them. Both have lobbied (and, alas, failed) to keep one. I was in the kitten danger zone myself for a while. They’re so cute. Really. How much trouble could one little kitten be? And wouldn't it be lovely to have it curled up on my lap, purring, while I read.

Then I came to my senses. Steve’s allergic to cats. And the fabulous Louise is likely to try to eat it.

So the feral cat people are coming to “rescue” them on Sunday afternoon. They’ll find good homes for them, I know. But I’ll miss them.

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