On a cool February morning three and a half years ago, I carried a bucket of towels and T-shirts to hang on the rope clothesline spanning the length of the patio. Hearing a rustling sound, I looked down. Wedged between the wheelchair and a chair protected by a plastic mattress cover, three baby kittens, one yellow, two white, suckled Mama Kitty. She looked at me with baleful eyes as her little litter kneaded their tiny toes on her underbelly.
I started feeding Mama Kitty more; cans of tuna, leftover bone-broth chicken after I picked out the bones. At first I tried to keep the cat family hidden so no one saw them, trapped them and took them to the Humane Society, where 99 percent of feral cats are euthanized. Humane killing, they call it. If kittens pass the Humane Society’s health and socialization standards, however, the animals are kept in cages until they’re adopted. But socialization, at least by me, was out of the question for these kittens. Mama snarled and crouched down, ready to attack my ankles if I came anywhere near her children. As skinny as she was, I knew she wouldn’t hesitate.
I tried to find homes for the kittens but could not. Always positive, Barry told me not to worry, so I tried to visualize everything working out for the best. But I didn’t sleep well, worried as I was about whether I could help this little cat family face the dangers they’d surely have to face.
I snapped pictures of the kittens and advertised them on Craigslist. Free kittens to a good home! I was emailing a guy named Allen who claimed he wanted the kittens as a companion to his rescue kitten, even though I told him the kittens were wild. Then a woman from a Facebook cat forum clued me in that some people take free kittens on Craigslist and use them for dog or fish bait. I shuddered and removed my ad.
Barry and I felt grateful that Mama Kitty found us. Seeing the kittens grow and play, climb trees, and chase leaves lizards and Mama Kitty’s tail was delightful. We watched them through picture windows as they leaped and raced and pounced on each other in the lush, overgrown yard. What a privilege, to live in a house rather than a high rise, with birds flocking to the bird feeder and kittens looking longingly upward, wishing they could fly.