Warning: Nigh unbearable cuteness coming up...
I'd never seen newborn kittens let alone expected to have the care of them, but a series of events made sure I had up close and personal experience. I had suddenly and unexpectedly lost a second cat in less than a year (the first to old age and heart trouble) and began to consider the benefits of dog ownership, to the point where I had been traveling to shelters in search of a possible match. Given that I always looked at the cats first, it shouldn't be surprising that I found a perfect cat instead. What I hadn't allowed for were the fosters I ended up offering to take as well once the adoptee settled in a mere two weeks later.
Pearl was the third of the two cats I told the shelter I could take. (The shelter was losing its lease and I ended up with the last three to be placed, the ones no one else would take. I would like to state for the record that I kept them all and they are/were [the eldest passed on] the most wonderfully fantastic cats.) "Okay, we'll see about someone picking up Pearl from you tomorrow... Oh, by the way, she got out of the shelter last week. Oh, and by the way, she had been acting like she was in heat..."
What with poor communication about who was to have the cat spayed and my inability to add two and two quickly enough (bad math skills all around with this situation), I ended up with four more fosters. Nine weeks to the day that she went AWOL, I went to the cat room to check on Pearl and, as if she had been waiting for my attendance, she popped out these creatures so quickly and so effortlessly that she set in stone my long-held decision to never bear children of my own:
The four Most Beautiful Kittens in the World, still literally wet behind the ears. Vet techs I had never seen before appeared in the exam room like magic when we went for check ups and shots. Lots of vet techs. The exam rooms aren't really all that big to begin with... I made sure to count kittens upon leaving.
Day 2. Sooooo tiny....! (RitzCarlton came in just under 13 pounds last month at his annual check-up, and although I want him to lose a pound and the vet says he can spare two, the cat is not by any means fat. You can still easily feel ribs, even if he could do with a bit more of a waist.)
"Like trying to herd cats..." Actually, I find adult cats ridiculously easy to train (well, the trick-for-treat kind of training). But trying to get these rascals to stay still long enough to be in focus and in frame was hard enough; I gave up on getting any of them to look at me and took what I could get.
And when it comes to potty training, cats train themselves! Here Galadriel shows her brothers and sister how it's done. (RitzCarlton was watching; I just caught him when his attention wandered.)
Momma Pearl, as she is now mostly called, was an amazing mother and did all of the work caring for her kids, even though barely more than a kitten herself. She only fussed at me a couple of times early on, and not after she realized I would babysit for a bit. She only ever tried to move the kittens out of their crate once. And although my vet said kittens can be weaned as early as four weeks, I let Momma decide. She fed the Hooligans right up to eight weeks, and beyond that let them sneak in for the occassional snack. But even good mothers have their limits. I think this is when Pearl began to question what she'd gotten herself into:
She still hung out with the
I purchased a laser pointer when they were still an office novelty, and I shudder to think what I paid for it. But as far as spending money on cat toys goes, it was a winner. Here the entire family enjoys a game of laser tag.
Smidgen, Galadriel and RitzCarlton when they liked to hang out together. Russell was way off to the right when these photos were taken. He was the most shy of the kittens from the very beginning, so I'm inclined to think he was left out by choice and not because there was simply no more room (or his siblings wouldn't let him in).
I swear upon pain of death that I only put one kitten in this shot; the other three were already there.
Today is also a reunion/anniversary party at my first place of employment! This summer marks 25 years since I first worked there as night cashier. (A job whose experience has stood me in good stead for every single one of the jobs I have had since!) Perhaps I'll share and bring home Springer's Homemade Ice Cream for the birthday girls and boyos...