Sunday, July 27, 2008

LT's Kittens

Late Sunday morning, Ginger arrived in the back yard and announced to LT that she was about to have her kittens. “Let’s go in and find a good place, shall we?” she asked.

LT looked at her with no comprehension. “In where?”

“In your house, of course. You didn’t think I was going to have these kittens outdoors did you? My owner would never let you in the house to help me, so we need to use your house. Let’s go. These kittens aren’t going to wait much longer.” Ginger ran up on the deck and through the cat door into the house.

LT followed her, completely confused. “You mean, you’re going to have the kittens in my house? What will Jay say?”

“It doesn’t matter. Now find me a closet, or nook or some little place where I can be undisturbed.” Ginger was already looking around on her own, but since she didn’t know the house it would be easier if LT pointed her in the right direction.

“Um, there’s a closet in the spare room where Mary Rose keeps her fancy clothes. There are shoes on the floor, but we can move them, and I’m sure I can find you something soft to lie on.” LT was thinking furiously. What would Daddy say? What would Rudy and Peep think? It was one thing to help Ginger with the kittens; it was totally different for them to move in!

Ginger assessed the closet, shoved the shoes out of the way and plopped on the floor. “This will do just fine, and now, please get out of here. I’m about to pop a kitten, and I’d prefer privacy.” She practically growled this last sentence.

LT retreated to the kitchen, and began pacing. He heard Ginger panting in the next room, and then a tiny cry. She’d been right – she had been ready to pop a kitten. Peep emerged from the bedroom, sleepy eyed and yawning.

“What’s all the ruckus? I thought I heard Ginger’s voice, but what would she be doing in our house?” Peep yawned again when she was done speaking.

“Well, what she’s doing here is having kittens. She’s in the closet where Mommy keeps her dresses and she’s having kittens. She showed up a few minutes ago, marched into the house and announced that she needed an out of the way spot. I don’t believe this!” LT looked as though he were about to become hysterical.

Peering around the corner of the door into the spare room, Peep saw Ginger in the closet, and quickly pulled her head back out. “Yup, she’s having kittens alright. Congratulations, LT. You’re a father.”

“What do I do now? I mean, am I expected to do something? Does she need anything? Water, food, litter, boiling water, sterile cloths? LT was truly ranting now.

Peep looked carefully at him and swatted him in the head. She wasn’t gentle about it, but she kept her claws in. “LT calm down. You aren’t going to help by getting hysterical. Ginger is doing all the work in there, and you don’t hear her ranting. You’re just here as support. You sit here and wait until she calls you in, and then you go inside. First you admire the kittens from a distance, and tell her how beautiful they are, and then you tell her how good a job she did having the kittens. Then, only when she asks you to come closer do you go near the kittens. She’ll probably want you to sit with them for a few minutes while she gets something to eat or drink or goes outside to the poo field.”

Having been given clear instructions, LT calmed down. “How do you know all this, Peep? You’ve spent most of your life here, and don’t even get around the area as much as I do.”

“Female cats are just born with this knowledge, I think. I didn’t know it until I thought about what she’d need, but as soon as I did, I knew it. It’s probably because cats don’t want other female cats around when they have their kittens, so they need to have all the information they need inside of them, rather than someone telling it to them. And you don’t see us going to Tibet to have kittens.” Peep shuddered at this thought. “Tibet would be the worst possible place to have your litter. There are so many other animals around, even dogs, it smells horrible, and there’s nowhere soft and small to find to protect the kittens. It’s got to be inside us, or there wouldn’t be any cats.”

LT looked at Peep with respect. He’d always thought of her as an oversize kitten, but she really was quite mature in her thinking. “Thank you, Peep. You really helped me a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t think that male cats are born with the information on what they need to do when kittens are born.”

Giggling, Peep answered him. “That’s because all you need to do is follow the female’s instructions, LT. We let you know what to do. If you hadn’t admired the kittens and complimented her, believe me, Ginger would have asked you. Given her genteel southern breeding, I’m sure she would have been very polite about it, but it will be nice for you to do it without being asked.

Just then, they heard Ginger calling for LT. He hesitantly walked into the doorway, and Ginger called him in closer. When he got to within about a foot of the kittens she tensed and he stopped. “Ginger, what a fine little bunch of kittens you have there! There’s a ginger like you, a black and white, a brown tabby, and, no make that two gingers and two black and whites. Is that all, or are there more I can’t see right now?”

Answering wearily, Ginger said, “Just the five. A first litter is usually not a big one, but these all look to be healthy kittens. They are beautiful aren’t they?” She reached down and vigorously cleaned the head of one of the gingers.

“They are beautiful, but no more beautiful than you are, Ginger. You did a marvelous job. They do look healthy and quite happy to be out in the world.” With that, LT moved forward another step or two, and when Ginger didn’t stop him, he nuzzled her head. “You are incredible.”

“Thank you, LT, and now will you watch them for a few minutes while I take care of a couple of things?” Ginger looked at him expectantly.

LT stepped into the closet and told her he would be honored to be trusted with her kittens. She got up slowly and headed towards the kitchen. “Just keep them in the closet with you. I don’t think they’ll even manage to stand up so soon, but they might try to crawl.”

Terrified, LT lay down just as Ginger had a few moments ago. The tiny kittens bumbled around him, making little mewing sounds. One of the black and whites buried himself in LT’s stomach, while another wobbled over to LT’s face. LT instinctively reached down and vigorously washed the head of the little one, this one the brown tabby. “Hello, little guy. You’re quite a handsome little kitten aren’t you?” He was besotted.

When Ginger returned about fifteen minutes later, LT was comfortably grooming one kitten, and keeping an eye on the other four. Ginger thanked him, and asked him to stay nearby, in case she needed him again.

LT took that as a dismissal and went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, the Daddy walked in the back door. “Looks like we’re about to have a major thunderstorm, LT.” I’m going to check the windows, and shut them at least most of the way.”

He moved off through the house, and LT followed him anxiously. Although the window in the spare room wasn’t open, he’d eventually realize that his house now had six extra cats, well, one extra cat with her five newborn kittens. After closing some of the living room windows, the Daddy came into the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator for some lunch. He made himself a sandwich and sat down at the table to eat it.

After finishing the sandwich, the Daddy made a pot of coffee and sat drinking coffee and reading, while the storm raged outside. During a lull, LT heard Ginger calling for him again. Uh-oh, LT thought. This was the moment of truth.

The Daddy’s head came up and he looked at LT. “That wasn’t you, was it, LT? It didn’t sound like Peep or Rudy either, and it sounded like it was in the spare room.”

LT rushed into the spare room and said to Ginger, “I think Jay’s coming in here - now!”

“He can admire my kittens if he likes, but he may not touch them.” Ginger said this regally, as though a queen bestowing honors upon a lowly subject.

Jay walked into the room and saw LT in conversation with a cat in the closet, and the cat had three, no four, no FIVE kittens. He backed up a step and thought quickly. He’d seen this cat around before. It was the ginger cat who hung out with his three, but LT couldn’t have kittens, Tibet had taken care of that. So, had he been adopted by a pregnant cat? He wasn’t sure.

“Well, hello there, pretty little lady! I see you decided that Mary Rose’s closet would be a good place to have your kittens. I’m glad she’s not here right now, so you won’t be disturbed.” Turning to a very proud LT he said, “Well, I guess congratulations are in order LT. I don’t know how you did it, but you’re a father.”

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