After not having a cat in our household for several years—we still miss our dear old cat Pierre--- we find ourselves hosts to a young black cat that has wandered in from the woods. She has acquired us. I named her Sheba. Sheba is pregnant. We have learned from the internet that she could have as many as 12 kittens. Having studied the situation a bit more, I’m consoled to learn that a first time cat’s litter averages three or four. We’re praying for three.
We didn’t realize Sheba’s situation until recently. She is quite round—very round. She is affectionate. She is hungry. She is heavy. She is close to “queening.” (That‘s a term I’ve learned from the internet.) When I told the young fellow who mows our yard about Sheba expecting kittens, he said, “That’s awesome.” Later I considered his remark, but I still am anxious. Actually, I am beside myself worrying about this situation.
We’ve always had male cats (neutered) - except for Alice, a little cat blind in one eye. She was spayed. Now here we are with “Black Sheba of the Woods,” surely from one of the royal families of Ethiopia. I have prepared her a box in the garage. I don’t know if she’ll accept it as her birthing place. I hear that cats like dark warm private places. I learned that from the internet. I also learned most cats have their kittens at night. Each morning I check the garage to see what has happened.
At a recent party I talked about Sheba. One friend said, “This is an ongoing story. Please keep me updated.” The YMCA staff where we swim almost daily also want updates. My children call and ask for updates. Close friends call for updates. Relatives in far-away states want updates. I have decided to call the kittens—when they come--- a, b, c, d, and e. I hope it’s only a, b, and c. (Will I be able to resist naming them?) I also wonder how I will take them all to the vet’s. So far, we haven’t been able to get Sheba into a carrier. She’s determined not to go. What to do? I need to check the internet.
In the Oct 28/29 Wall Street Journal there was a review by science writer Richard Lea of The Hidden Language of Cats by Sarah Brown and The Cat’s Meow by Jonathan B. Losos . “Cat’s have been shaped by humanity for thousands of years,” Lea wrote. “They have made it from the barn to the boudoir in Egypt around 1500 BC when their representations began appearing in temples and paintings of domestic settings. From there they took ship for the rest of the world.”
The internet opens the world to us, but beware. Not everything it true. My father lived to be 97, so probably he wasn’t shocked by anything, but I do think he’d be rolling over in his grave if he knew about the scandalous things people say and do in this day and age. I need more information about Sheba’s condition. As I check the internet, I hope I won’t be shocked.
When my parents were living in a farmhouse, there was a barn in the distance, cattle in the pasture, and a corn shed in the back. Cats and kittens were frequent wanderers around the place. “They come and go,” my mother said calmly. One thing I know is Sheba has no intention of going anywhere.