Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What if kittens are born in your backyard?

or: How I became a Cat Lady with six cats by accident in one night.

My friend Rachel and her husband took these pictures and they somehow 
managed to make my fluorescent-lit garage look amazing...

This summer, Chris and I looked into our backyard and saw a black cat and an orange cat sitting under our fig tree while five tiny kittens played in the flowers. It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen, and we watched them most of the night. After about an hour, and then definitely by the next morning, we realized they lived in our backyard.

If it were up to me that would be the end of the story because I’m irresponsible and not a cat person. But Chris is very responsible. And even though he never had a single pet growing up, he cares a lot about showing compassion to animals.

He immediately started feeding mama kitty and Googling what to do next. The kittens were so small that we knew they were still nursing, and their mama was very skinny. We left her food and water two or three times a day, and gave them their space for a few weeks. After Chris talked to shelters and nonprofits and cat people, and we started working with -- I swear I am not making this up -- the homeless cat network.

They gave us food and litter and cages and a humane trap to capture the mama. In 48 very eventful hours, we captured her, got her spayed, and released her back into our yard. That same night, the volunteers brought the five kittens into our garage, administered the medicines they needed, and then it was our job to “socialize” them in preparation for being adopted.

We posted on a few social media outlets, and people started showing up. Like fifty people in the first week. That took my weekly visitor count up considerably (from roughly zero), and made me feel like it was me being “socialized.” Over time, the kittens started purring and wanted to be held and pet. I’ll never forget the first night they started purring while I pet them; what an extraordinarily rewarding experience.

The kittens have been an unexpected and delightful way to make new friends and get in touch with old friends. We had someone over for lunch most afternoons. We had a girls night where we sat together and passed kittens around. My book club held kittens for a couple hours of discussion. Dozens of friends texted to see if they could drop by for a quick visit. Our home was filled with people in way it never has been before, and it was really wonderful.

I think part of that is because the people who care about the welfare of small animals are generally decent people. As this whole kitten situation has wound down (all five are being fostered, having a tryout , or got adopted), I feel lucky not just to know these crazy cats, but also to have enjoyed the company of so many good people.

b perry

a few filter-free pictures of the cats below

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