Yet again, here at the Old Homestead, we have kittens. This time, I don't even have to be momma! Farmmom and Farmdad, having worked very hard to get the FarmHouse in shape out in the country and moved out there a while back, were pretty much immediately adopted by a tortoise shell female longhair cat, who, once she got over her shyness, was a loveable little outdoor pain in the butt. (She's a mottled three color cat, with the primary colors being black and brown... some call that calico, but to me, a calico is white with spots of multiple colors scattered about.)
She's also a prolific pain in the butt. Unfortunately, she is wise to the ways of raising kittens, and also to the machinations of humankind, vis a vis her reproductive equipment, so she'd get a litter just to weaning, and then vanish for two weeks, and come back knocked up again.
Now, we're practical people, around here. For the combined my-birthday-their-anniversary dinner mom and dad (actually quite cheerfully) caught hold of one of the Buff Orphington roosters, ended his dizzy little lifespan (Farmmom has a grudge- the Orphingtons that I bought along with some Wyandottes to add to the flock and bring some bulk and new blood in for the stated purpose of getting some better meat chickens are not very bright, except for one of the roosters who has figured out that her tomato plants in the garden are Magical Items which produce Yummy Stuff on a fairly regular basis, and so will bee-line for them first thing and steal her ripe tomatoes, nibbling them a bit or carrying them back to the flock... I think he wants to be a politician....) and tossed him in a pot and made up some absolutely yummy chicken and noodles.
But not a one of us likes the idea of aborting a litter of kittens. Hell, when I got FarmDog spayed way back when I got a case of the creeping awfuls after the vet told me he hadn't charged me for aborting the litter of pups she was carrying... that I had no idea about.
So, back to Momma Cat... Something needed to be done before we had more cats than acres. So, when she turned up enceinte yet again after an extended absence, I sighed and drug out the house cat paraphernalia that I had stowed away after the death of Ziffer Cat and hauled her into town, where she could be placed under house arrest until the arrival and weaning of the kittens.
Fast forward, and she decides to give birth, thankfully on one of my off nights. I was expecting a large litter, since she was ginormous. Six kittens came forth. Three survived the week. It's not that she was a bad Momma, she's actually a fairly wonderful Momma, but running around out on the farm are a couple generations of her offspring and grand offspring, and no guarantee who the daddy of any of the kittens are.... those poor unfortunate three kittens didn't do well from the start, in fact I'm not certain one of them wasn't stillborn, since it died before I knew it had arrived.
Momma cat, who I suspect had been someone's pet that had gone feral or been kicked out at some point in her life, had nonetheless raised several successful litters as a feral, with all of the paranoia that comes with that, so our arrangements re: the kittens were understandably tense.
Not that she had a problem with me, per se, she was just paranoid. She would love on me and be very happy to see me every time I'd go peek, but woe betide me if I tried to put them in a box instead of on the carpet. (I did. She moved them. Then waited until I was drifting peacefully off to sleep and ambushed my right arm in a knock-down drag-out vicious manner that had me contemplating renaming her Gurkha Cat.)
We eventually settled on the arrangement that I could put old sheets down in her den area, under the vanity, and she would desist the guerrilla warfare as long as I didn't try to move the kittens. I was graciously allowed to examine them (as long as they didn't go to far from the den) and could reach into the den and love on them, so long as I remembered who they belonged to.
Fast forward two weeks. Three surviving kittens are doing very well and making with the growth, eyes are open and looking around in bewilderment, the little yellow boy kitten is purring when I pet him and the obligatory Mini Momma Cat (she always comes up with at least one fuzzy little clone of herself in a litter) is playing "get your belly" with verve... and I get a voicemail from Farmdad as I'm leaving work.
"I just found kittens, and I think their momma just abandoned them. Pretty sure the one that was dead got too cold on the shop floor... we're gonna have to do something with em."
And I get accused of being a softie. So out to the FarmHouse I go, after a twelve hour shift, muttering imprecations upon ditzy puss cats who can't be bothered to tend to their spawn and how, after twelve hours of dealing with them, I have to go rescue kittens.
Then I brought them to town and crossed my fingers to hope against hope that Momma Cat would foster them, because while my workplace is really relaxed and understanding, eventually even they would get tired of me bringing a pair of kittens to work with me to bottle feed every two hours.
When I showed the two brand new babies to her I figured out why the unknown mother of the new kittens had basically popped em out and wandered off... because Momma Cat immediately took over and adopted them. So, I infer that she's basically been raising any kittens she can get her paws on out there.
So, we've got five kittens now, two of em a couple weeks behind the others.
Momma cat will get spayed when the kittens are weaned, and then go back to being an outside cat at the Farm. She'd love to be an inside/outside cat here, but I can't manage to break her of a couple of habits that are deal breakers, like getting on the counters, and knocking over the trash can and rooting around inside it.
And I'll have plenty of kittens to go around, here in a few weeks. I'm pretty sure that one of the gals I work with is gonna manage to take one home, over the objections of her husband. In the mean time it's rather entertaining when she asks me how her kitten is doing when he's around.
And, having two of the cutest stages of kittendom around at the same time is fun- the stage in which they really get mobile and playful, but before they turn into super ninjas that make you say things like "why are you eating the wall??" and "how did you get on the ceiling?" And the stage in which they've opened their eyes and are *just* getting mobile and getting into that clumsy, wobbly, roly-poly tumble over for no real reason mode.
The little black boy is the quietest, I think he's got a defect of the squeaker cause he barely meows, and when he does he sounds like he's got laryngitis, the big yellow boy purrs the loudest, and was the first to purr at being petted. The oldest Momma Cat clone is the spookiest, but also quietly the most affectionate... she's the one that if you sit on the floor you won't notice that she's crawled into your lap and begun to purr. Mostly because you've been dealing with the typically male rambunctious affections of the black boy. Of the bitty kittens, there's another yellow boy, who is the noisiest, and will set up a ruckus at the slightest provocation, and another Momma Cat clone, who we weren't sure was gonna make it because she wasn't too well off when Farmdad found them. She apparently found the energy to be aggravated by the car ride to town, though, and tucked right in to dinner when introduced to Momma Cat, and has been doing well. She's possibly the sweetest of them, when I talk to the babies she'll come wibbly-wobbling her way over to me and curl up close... and if there's exposed skin nearby she'll give nursing-nuzzles and kitten kisses and set up a purr.
So, yet again, I have a bunch of baby critters around the house, and yet again, they remind me to smile.