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Kittens, anyone?

by Patricia | 10.07.09

One night last week I was out late on the back porch pushing my special needs daughter up and down the porch in her wheelchair.  My husband was out there, too, and we were talking.  The porch is a rickety, second-story affair, so it creaks as I walk.  The wheelchair rattles.  If our neighbors here lived as close to us as our neighbors in Payson or Provo did, somebody would probably complain that we make too much noise late at night.  Here, everyone sleeps comfortably distant from each other.  I can walk out on the back porch anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a contrary child and not fear that I’m causing a disturbance.

So there I was, walking, talking.  Then I heard below the plaintive mewling of kittens.  Looking over the railing, I saw them creep around the corner of the house, following my voice, my creak, my rattle–one dark one and one dark and white one, at least.  We dispatched the kids to fetch the kittens.  They brought in two younguns, a grey tabby, very compact of body, and a larger grey and white kitten with very big ears.  They were lost–quite possibly abandoned–they were cold, and, in our stretch of the woods, they were imperiled–walking popcorn chicken for hungry owls and coyotes.  We brought them inside.

They’re about eight weeks old and very energetic.  They litter-trained right away.  Of course, they exude cuteness and are, in my opinion, above-average innocent.  They’ve been in the house for several days now, and besides pulling pranks like chewing the blossom stem off my daughter’s beloved carnivorous sundew plant, walking on computer keyboards and wreaking other mild, housebound-mammal havoc, they seem like nice cats.  We enjoy them.

The problem is, we already have four adult cats, which is about as much as I think this house and yard can handle.   That led me to wonder if anybody out there in bloggerland might like to adopt a couple of kittens.  I hope that anyone interested in taking one cat might take the other as well, because they’re sisters and they love each other.   I understand that taking on two cats is rather more than most people care to do.  But after watching the social behavior of the horse herd behind our house, seeing how the wild turkeys watch out for each other, spying from a cliff on a herd of romping mule deer in the canyon below, and observing the dynamics in play between our four grown-up cats, I have come to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the casual human practice of splitting up animal families.

Of course, the young of many kinds of animals disperse on their own.  For instance, around this time of year, young coyotes leave the home den looking for their own territories.  The coyote population of an area is density dependent; that is, if an area already supports as many coyotes as it can, the half-grown pups drift like seeds on the wind, looking for advatageous ground in need of more coyotes. 

But these animals we’ve taken under our tutelage, stirring the pot of their genetic stories, employing in our service as workers and companions–they’re a different story.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows–all the so-called domesticated species–it’s probably time we reconsider how we affect their lives and communities.

So … kittens, anyone?

2 Responses to Kittens, anyone?

  1. Lora

    I wish…! It’s so hard having a daughter who attracts cats to her on walks, and we can’t have a cat (allergies and asthma) of her own.
    There is an excellent chance that folks know you take in cats, and more will show up in your yard. When I worked in the pet business my country living customers talked about this ALL the time.

  2. Patricia

    Lora,

    Out where we live, abandoned kittens and puppies show up with some regularity.

    If we keep these two, that pretty much tops off our household. I’ve decided that if we do keep them, it’s going to be on a “house cat only” basis, because our yard and the surrounding fields and forests have just about as many cats roaming through as they can support, feral and tame. Of our four adult cats, one spends all his time outdoors, and the other three are part-timers.

    By the way, one of my greatest pleasures lately involved running into the man who adopted another of our kittens two years ago. That cat–”Pirate” we called him, because he had a black cap and eye patch–was the kitten we felt most likely to not feel especially disturbed with new surroundings. Anyway, two years later I run into the guy who adopted Pirate and he told me he and his wife still had him and that they were very happy with him. As my husband and I were leaving the store where we bumped into the guy, his wife pulled in to pick him up, and there was Pirate riding in the car! It was very good for me to see how well Pirate looked and how happy he had made the people who adopted him. He got to go for car rides. Way cool. Made my month.

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