Birth Order

Cats love my daughter, Niki. Every time one is around, she gently, lovingly pets them while they purr in ecstasy. My white and black cat, Louie was enjoying Niki’s attention recently when she told me, “Our new neighbors have a pretty little calico cat.”

Five-year-old Gemma jumped in to make sure her Mama got the details right. She blurted, “Her name is Jewel, and it’s supposed to live in their barn. When we come back from playing with the kids there, it always follows us home! We try sending it back, but it won’t obey.”

Laughing, Niki agreed, “The kitty is very naughty. It doesn’t obey. It not only follows us home, but it tries to slip inside our house. It’s snuck in a few times while the boys were going in and out of the house to play in the snow.”

Gemma pipped up again, “The cat is fat!”

“The cat is very fat.” Niki confirmed. “One day last week I found it sleeping in Luke’s cubby. Of course, he hadn’t hung up his coat on one of the hooks, so kitty had a soft bed. I picked her up and discovered the reason she’s so fat. It’s because she’s going to have kittens! I think they’ll be born soon!”

Smiling, I suggested, “More than likely, she’s coming into your house looking for a warm nest to birth her babies in.”

Two days later Niki and her family stopped by for a visit. Their first words as they came into the house were, “The neighbor’s cat had her babies in our entry!”

Niki confirmed the news. “As usual, Luke hadn’t hung up his jacket. I don’t know why, but if a cat wants to take a nap in our entry, they all seem to prefer Luke’s cubby. She delivered three kittens right on his crumpled jacket. Now he says he doesn’t ever want to wear that coat again.”

“They must like his scent.” I mused. “Then again, since he doesn’t use the coat hook, the attraction might be the appeal of always finding a soft nest.”

Niki said, “When I realized what was happening, the first kitten had just been born, a little gray baby. Everyone crowded into the entry to watch the second baby born.”

“That one was orange.” Ben and Jacob said at the same time.

Fourteen-year-old Claire complained, “I missed seeing it born because I was getting something from the kitchen. To make sure I didn’t miss seeing the next baby born, I got a chair and put it next to the cubby so I could sit and watch!”

Niki said, “There were only three kittens in the litter. The last baby was another orange one.”

Gemma announced, “The gray kitten’s name is Rosie.”

I looked at Niki and questioned, “The mother cat belongs to your neighbor. It might not be a good idea to be naming the kittens.”

Shrugging, Niki explained, “In a few days the neighbor’s will be coming to take the cat family home.”

Growing up on a farm in the 1950’s, there was never a shortage of baby animals. Daddy wanted cats in the barn to keep the rodent population down. Almost every farmer on the block had at least one dog. Although seeing calves, piglets, goat kids, baby rabbits and chicks wasn’t a rare occurrence, the excitement of watching, touching and playing with them never grew old.

When my daughters, Niki and Tammie were growing up, we had an unexpected litter of five kittens born in our basement. Around the same time our eight-year-old cock-a-poo suddenly went into puppy production.

I remember sitting in the back yard one afternoon with my daughters as they played with our kittens and puppies. I felt very satisfied knowing my daughters had this joyful experience.

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