One week ago, on Saturday, March 24th, I received a call from our local SPCA -- just days after registering for their fostering program.
"Can you foster a pregnant cat? She's ready to give birth in the next few days."
I promised to drop down and meet the mom-to-be. The idea of frollicking kittens appeals to me. Still, I know that there's a high risk involved. What if one of the kittens is just too cute to give back? We're not ready for another cat -- not long term. In fact, we firmly decided, after the death of our much-loved Tom (full name Thomas Uriah Sherrard) nearly two years ago that we wouldn't have another pet.
At the shelter, I meet a very small and very young female. She's been brought in as a stray and it sickens me to think that someone decided the last stage of pregnancy was the time to send her wandering alone on the streets. When the cage door is opened she comes right to me and allows me to pick her up. (Her fur is incredibly soft -- reminiscent of Tom, who charmed the ladies with his velvety coat.) She rubs my face with hers and purrs.
Half an hour later we arrived home and, after hiding and being coaxed out a few times she seems to settle in okay. Since she's come sans-name, Brent calls her Lily, short for Tiger Lily, in honour of her beautiful tiger-like markings. (This may make you think she's orange, but she's actually dark with some brown and white.)
Lily proves to be quite friendly and spends a lot of time cuddling. In fact, the next day she's laying across me, purring while I stroke her when an odd movement in her midsection catches my attention. I watch, certain I must be mistaken, but sure enough it happens again. She's having contractions. On me.
"Do you know that you're in labour?" I ask her. "Wouldn't you prefer some privacy?"
Apparently not. An hour or so later I shift her into a cat bed, which Brent has placed beside me on the couch. Lily insists on leaning out of it and putting her head on my knee. It's not until the first kitten begins to emerge that she pulls away, giving my stroking hand a gentle bite for my trouble.
Two hours later there are four kittens, wet, scrawny and thoroughly pathetic looking. Brent and I assure Lily that they're absolutely beautiful. One is entirely black, one has its mother's colours and two are white with some dark blotches.
From zero to five in twenty-four hours!
I think to myself that it should be interesting.