The sound from outside the house was something I can’t even begin to describe. It woke me at 4:30 a.m. with only one thought — something was killing the cat!
I jumped out of bed, checked to make sure the munchkins had not heard this horrid screech, then ran down the stairs to the first floor.
Fortunately, I was coherent enough not to trip over my feet in the mad-dash for the kitchen where I flipped on the back porch light, threw open both doors and gave an immediate sigh of relief. Feathertail poked her head out of the little nest I had made her just as I stepped outside. Her almond-shaped eyes closed as she gave a massive yawn followed by her practically non-existent meow of, whaaaaat’s up?
Dated jokes aside I sat on the porch steps holding my throat while a dozen gray hairs sprouted out the top of my head. A quick peek into the plastic bin laid to one side and layered with towels for a make-shift cat house revealed the newest members of the zombie family — four kittens — curled into a tiny mound.
In retrospect, I jinxed myself. If you recall several columns ago I mentioned how I wanted to be experienced in something fun — like kittens. Now I’ve four kittens and Feathertail — named by the eldest munchkin from column Catch Watch 2014 which should have read Cat Watch 2014 — on my hands. So, just on a whimsy, I want to win the lottery.
Anyway, this is all my fault, of course, as Feathertail wasn’t waddling around the latter part of April from too many neighborhood handouts (As I had hoped) but pregnant (As I figured). She had pegged our family as massive heart-on-our sleeve suckers but gave birth in the neighbor’s landscaping rather than beneath a porch or shed. It was the oddest of choices, too. The south-west corner of the house, just below the eave, in full view of not only a busy street but anything wanton of an easy snack. The neighbor had informed us; Brie breaking down into happy tears.
The next morning, as I sent the munchkins off to school, Feathertail and her brood were still lying amongst the first makings of spring flowers and mulch. They were there when it started to rain, too. So one minute I am looking out the living room window to see momma cat trying to escape the downpour and the kittens getting soaked, the next collecting four wet protesting babes and one momma cat fast on my heels as I headed to my covered back porch.
Besides feeling like a thief, I am now waking in the wee morning hours with my heart in my throat like I did when my own kids were babies. Certain nature is taking its oft-time cruel course only to find the felines are fine. I heard that goosebump screech echo one more time before all went quiet with no idea what it was, perhaps a raccoon, maybe the zombie Apocalypse arrived and just as quickly departed? Who knows, but it definitely was not my cats.
What is frustrating is that I know better than to be this way — a year’s worth of veterinarian classes, time on a farm, a batch of abandoned kittens lost and pets gone from old age or heart-breaking ailments. Plus and ironically, I am allergic to cats but the proud if occasionally sneezy, watery-eyed owner of one ten year old indoor cat. (A small nine year old lap dog, for those keeping track). I know how these things can go for strays, in particular, but Feathertail and her brood has grown on me. Which means she will probably move to that aforementioned shed or porch four blocks away before I’ve a chance to give them all, including mom, proper homes.
Or end up roadkill.
Eaten by zombies.
Serves me right for turning into the neighborhood cat lady … unless you want a kitten?
Bethany J. Royer is the mother of two munchkins and has a serious case of psychology student senior-itis. She can be reached at email@example.com