Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Climbing Kittens, originally uploaded by evens.john.

For at least six months now we have been the home away from home for our next-door neighbor's kitten. She first came to us as the runt of the litter, desperately hungry because her brother would scarf all the food. We would take pity on her and supply a handful of kibble or a few cat treats, but her small size and speed meant she could easily slip in the house a steal half of Barry's dinner before he knew it was happening. Eventually we gave up trying to keep her out. She and Barry got along fine and she never made a mess in the house. Her friendly temperament is rivaled by few cats I have ever met and one has to admit she is a fine looking specimen.
Just over a week ago, after final putting together the clues (round belly, huge appetite and conspicuous nipples) we realized our precious girl was no longer a kitten! One of the rotten neighborhood cats had had his wicked way with her! Now, you may notice that heretofore the feline in question has borne no name. Sadly the neighbors never christened the poor lass, but in light of this new development we felt obligated to provide her with a title. 'Juno' came to mind as a befitting name.

We were desperately worried that Juno's small size would be an impediment to her carrying and successfully delivering the kittens (of number, unknown). The neighbor seemed unconcerned, and we fretted as to whether we should take her to the vet for a check up, and pay out of pocket. In the end, events took care of themselves. We returned home on Sunday afternoon and Juno followed us in as usual. However, this time her mood was noticeably different and her agitation wasn't simply caused by hunger. It quickly became apparent that kitten birth was imminent, and moments later Juno had disappeared into our bedroom closet.

As the first kitten was making its way into the world backwards, the neighbors arrived home from wherever they'd been. I delivered the news that the kittens were on their way, and I wasn't sure how well it was going. The neighbor told me he thought it was funny that his cat was giving birth in my bedroom, but I wasn't particularly amused and returned inside to check on the progress. Thankfully, nature was taking it's course and two kittens had soon been delivered, cleaned and nudged in the direction of a nipple.

The action appeared to have died down, so Kristal and I went out to a friend's house for dinner. Upon our return, we discovered the kittens had multiplied! There were now four new lives in our closet! Two calico, one black-and-white and one with the same coloration as it's mother.

The deed had been done in the bottom of a cardboard box with little time for preparation. It was now more-or-less covered in bodily fluids so the first order of business was to transfer mother and litter to cleaner surroundings. We set a towel and some paper shreddings in a large Tupperware and managed to get the whole family situated. On Monday evening the neighbors apparently decided they should take some responsibility in this situation so took the whole kit-and-kabodle back to their place. Hope I get my Tupperware back.

We were sad to see them go. Juno is practically a member of the family, and while we didn't do much but let her get on with it, we are proud to have been able to provide an environment where she felt safe to house her new family. She did an admirable job for such a small girl. We hope that the neighbors keep and eye on the new arrivals, although we will probably be over there ourselves on a frequent basis to check the kittens' (and mother's) progress.

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