The Royal Cat Family
Not sure about you, but I’ve had it with cats! Now for all you cat lovers, don’t get me wrong. I am a cat lover too, but as the saying goes, enough is enough. Can I tell you what brought me to my breaking point? Do you want to hear the WHOLE story?
Way back in 1993 on a cold November day my three year old said the five-letter word.
“K-I-T-T-Y,” Noah said as he peeked out the front room window. My brown-haired toddler glanced back at me.
“Kitty?” I asked with concern.
“Momma, come. See kitty.”
I pulled back the curtain and peered out the window to see a slender but mature black cat staring back at me.
“Hello, kitty,” I said with caution.
This pristine creature was sitting on our front porch on a white plastic lawn chair frozen like a statue. The cat appeared to be of royal decent; the only thing missing was her crown. Slowly, but surely, she lay down. I walked away praying she would find her way back to the castle.
Fast-forward to April 3, 1994. It was Easter evening and we had just arrived home from a full day of chocolate bunnies, an egg hunt and honey-baked ham. Earlier that morning before leaving for Easter Sunday Mass, I had noticed that Baby (the name the kids bestowed on Her Majesty) appeared ready to birth her progenies. As dad ushered the kids to the car I turned and ran back into the house.
“I’ll be right there,” I shouted.
Now it was dark as we made our way up the walkway and to the porch. Above the noise and clamor of my tired brood, I was the first to hear the sweet sounds of life coming from the blanket-lined box that I had quickly prepared earlier that day.
“Listen,” I commanded putting my finger to my lips.
“Meow, meow, meow, meow”
“Give me your pocket flashlight, Scott.”
“Here, and we are not keeping them,” my husband said emphatically.
Just as I had suspected, the light shone on four baby kittens suckling at their mother’s teats.
“Good job, Baby,” I praised her.
“You are awesome,” I said encouragingly to one nursing mother from another.
I dutifully had Baby, Stripy, Noel, Sprinkles and Sleepy spayed or neutered at the proper time.
So there you have it, the beginning of my love affair with cats, and the long lineage of the Royal Cat Family.
Annabelle, a peasant from across the street, longed to be part of the Royal Cat Family; she birthed her children in an empty Bristol Rug Cleaner box left in the garage by my dear husband. If only he had folded the box and stored it in the rafters I wouldn’t have this story to tell. Believe it or not this was another Easter miracle.
My brave, strong hubby stood at the kitchen door with the carton of eggs he had retrieved from the back fridge.
“Oh my God!” he exclaimed.
“In the garage, in the garage,” Scott stammered as his face turned from gray to green.
I reached for the phone to dial 911 to report what I suspected to be a dead body in the garage!
The father of my children sat down in a kitchen chair, put his head between his legs, and spilled the beans.
”That cat from across the street, she had kittens in the Bristol Rug Cleaner box. If only I had folded the box and stored it in the rafters. Ooooohhhhhhhh!” Scott groaned as he began to pass out.
“Dear, it’s okay. We will figure this out,” I calmly assured him as I held on to his cold, clammy, shaky shoulders.
Clearly, my husband was being triggered and not from the war. You see, when it came time to farm out Baby’s clan, I just couldn’t do it. So for ten years we had been feeding five outdoor cats, add to this: one golden retriever, two indoor cats and seven kids! I immediately went to the neighbor and demanded he take Annabelle and her new kitties home. Our neighbor complied, but Annabelle’s desire to be a part of the Royal Cat Family was bigger than all of us, and so once again the tabby cat and her kin claimed our garage as their principal establishment.
And the rest is history. Annabelle birthed Cherry’s mother, Cherry’s mother birthed Cherry, Cherry birthed Whitey, and in 2010 Whitey birthed Tangerine, Tawny, and Grey. It hasn’t been an easy life for these cats and me. If you will recall Baby was a domesticated Queen when she arrived, and so with the help of my own kiddies we domesticated her offspring. Annabelle eventually went back home but left Cherry’s mother and Cherry so they could have a better life as part of the Royal Cat Family. As hard as I tried, the tabbies were no more than two wild cats, which made it very difficult for me to catch them so I could have them spayed. Finally, with the help of a friend, I caged mother and daughter and had them fixed so they could live out their lives as pseudo royalty.
Not only do I carry the guilt that comes with being a mother of seven kids, I also carry the guilt that comes with being the mother of thirteen cats and a dog. Now all you responsible cat owners don’t say another word. I told you, I have enough guilt, cat poop, and pee in my yard to shame me for life. Before Cherry was rendered sterile she birthed Whitey and three others in a bush but quickly moved her tribe under the house. When the litter made their debut each wore a sash that read: Wild Members of the Royal Cat Family. One kitten was attacked and killed by the neighbor’s Chihuahua. The other two sisters suddenly became ill and died but not before I put them in a blanket-lined shoebox and asked St. Francis, the patron saint of animals to pray to God for a fast and peaceful death.
Whitey followed in her mother’s footsteps. She birthed amongst my Boston ferns and I did my best to hold the kittens on a daily basis UNTIL Whitey moved them under the house. When this litter made their debut each wore a sash that read: More Wild Members of the Royal Cat Family.
By this time all members of the authentic Royal Cat Family had died or disappeared except for Sprinkles. Though Sprinkles was a male he mothered Whitey's kitties as though they were his own. Our 16-year-old Sprinkles developed an eye infection that would cost us upwards of $500.00 to remedy. After surgery he would be housebound for an undetermined amount of time. All of this and no guarantees the infection would be cured! I decided against the surgery but not before I received a letter in the mail from a neighbor who walked by our house every day and always stopped to pet Sprinkles.
Dear Sprinkles’ Mother,
In case you were not aware, Sprinkles has an eye infection that needs immediate attention.
A Concerned Walker
If you are so concerned Mrs. Walker take the cat to the vet yourself. This was the introduction to a 10-page letter that I wrote but prudently decided not to send to Mrs. Walker. After this the guilt consumed me like a really bad cold. No matter what I did I couldn’t shake it.
So what happened to the Royal Cat Family? Sprinkles’ eye was miraculously healed and he passed away peacefully at the ripe old age of 17. Cherry died in December on a cold rainy night but not before I covered her with a blanket and a box for shelter, and said a prayer. Cherry’s mother is living out her days in the backyard surrounded by her granddaughter Whitey and her great-grandchildren Tawny and Grey.
A lot has happened in my life since that November day in 1993, including being installed as a member of the Royal Menopause Family. What have I learned after all these years?
1. Some things are beyond my control, and that doesn’t make me a bad mother or bad cat owner.
2. Some days are wilder than others and I’m just along for the ride.
3. I need to spend 10 minutes a day basking in the sun like I haven’t a care in the world.
4. Sometimes I need to hide “under the house” just to have some “me” time.
5. I need to trust more and not bite the hand that feeds me.
6. I can and have survived, but I also need to thrive.
7. I must be cautious and curious all at the same time.
8. I am not perfect but God loves me just the way I am.
9. I don’t have nine lives
but only one; so make it my best!