Unhappy Campers

LeAnn posted this blog on Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

There I was Monday morning, minding my own business, walking into the barn to feed Kajun and the barn kitties as I always do in the morning. As soon as I walked in the barn, Little Sister jumped up on the shelf where I feed the barn kitties. And that’s when the yelling began.

“What’s up with your babies, Little Sister?” I asked.

Our barn cat had kittens 10 days ago. In the past, when Little Sister has had kittens in the fall, she has acted like she didn’t even know she had kittens. When she has kittens in the spring, she is an excellent mother. In the fall, she acts like she doesn’t even know she has given birth.

But this fall, for some reason — so far anyway — has been different. Little Sister started taking care of her babies right away.

And Monday morning, two of them were yelling at the top of their lungs.

Little Sister paraded back and forth on the kitty food shelf, waiting for her breakfast. The kittens continued to yell. They sounded close, too.

“What happened? Did you just jump up and leave while they were nursing?” I asked.

Little Sister dug into the kitty food and didn’t bother to answer my question.

I fed Kajun and gave him his first installment of grain. I never feed him all at once because with his old, smooth teeth, he can’t chew very well and takes bites that are too big and then spits out grain all over the place.

The kittens continued to yell.

“They sound close,” I said to Kajun.

I figured the kittens were just upset that momma had left and would calm down soon.

I was wrong. By the time I had gone outside to check Kajun’s water and the kittens were still yelling, I decided I’d better find out what was what. I keep a wind-up flashlight in the barn, so I wound it up and climbed over the partial wall to where I know Little Sister has her nest in the hay.

I knelt on the ground — and there they were. Two little kittens out of the nest. Still yelling.

As soon I knelt on the ground, Little Sister left her food and slid past me into the nest. It was as if she was showing me where the babies were supposed to go. As soon as she went into the nest, I heard another kitten, too. But that one was more faint, muffled, I supposed, by the amount of hay between me and the kitten. Or kittens. It was hard to tell how many more mouths were yelling with the two yelling right in front of me.

I reached around the corner and put one kitten back. Then I put the other one back.

One was black. And the other was a little tabby. They were as fuzzy as could be. And their eyes were just open.

The second one continued to yell, so I poked him farther into the nest.

And all at once, both kittens were quiet. As soon as the noise stopped, Little Sister came out of the nest and went back to her breakfast.

We have had a very warm, mild fall so far. The weather is supposed to turn bad, though, Tuesday morning with high winds and falling temperatures. Snow is in the forecast for later in the week.

I have already taken an old fleece jacket down to the barn and spread it out on the hay so it can start to smell like the barn. I want to see if I can get the jacket into Little Sister’s nest so the kittens will have something to help them stay warm when the weather turns. The longer they can stay with momma, the better off they will be.

My heart is broken right now. In the last three months, I have lost 7 of my four-footed cat family. Jack died right in front of me August 6. Then the old tom cat in the barn, Squeak, disappeared. After that, Rosie, her sister, Violet, their older brother, Gabriel, Juliette, heart of my heart because I raised her from an hours-old kitten who had fallen out of the nest six year ago, and Bobbie Cat, my precious Bobbie who came to us 11 years ago because her mother was a stray — all walked off, one by one, and have not been seen since. They are missing and presumed dead, and I am having a hard time with the fact that they are never coming home. I have called and called and searched and looked and waited and called some more. And they are never coming home.

If there is something I can do to help the babies in the barn, then I will do it.

LeAnn R. Ralph

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