Things got extremely crowded before my birth. Sharing a womb with five siblings is tight! It’s fortunate our gestation period is short lived compared to humans. I’ve often wondered about that, and I’ve come to the conclusion that our superior intelligence and adaptive gifts allow us to prepare to enter the world much quicker than humans. Another reason is the potential hazard of being scratched to pieces from the inside that our mothers face while incubating.
When our mother neared her delivery date, she must have felt the crowding as well, because she would not, or could not, find a resting spot. A few minutes of quiet was quickly interrupted. We would be jostled from one side to another as she attempted to find respite. I longed for freedom!
Birth was not what I anticipated! The third of the litter (there’s that word again) to arrive, I felt the walls close in just before I was expelled into the open and dropped on the cold ground. I don’t blame my mother. It’s just how things are.
She did her best to clean up kitten after kitten as we continued to arrive moments apart. I only heard her gag once. At least I think it was her, as my eyes were still glued shut. I could see nothing.
And then the noise and scratching began! I can’t fault my siblings, because none of us could see what we were doing. We were just hungry and confused. Mother did her best to keep us fed and hushed. You see, living on the streets can be dangerous for little kitties, especially in Montana. Bears, eagles, coyotes, and those well-meaning rescuers need to be avoided! She swiftly insisted we maintain silence - always, especially when we sensed danger. Some of my siblings were not quick learners and soon there were only four of us. This, however unfortunate for the two that disappeared, made mealtime less competitive!
Mother was fastidious about grooming and taught us to be the same. On reflection, I believe the grooming lessons had a twofold purpose. A well-groomed kitty is a confident kitty, but a kitty grooming is a quiet kitty. Perhaps I should have spent less time grooming and more time in hunting class.
Another critical lesson was “How to Hide and Stay Hidden.” I may be a quick learner, but I have to admit I am not always obedient. I promptly became proficient in finding exquisite hiding places, however my ability to stay hidden lacked due to my insatiable curiosity. After all, I am a cat! Unfortunately, that is how I found myself in the arms of a well-meaning rescuer followed by cages and needle pokes and finally the removal of body parts that I did not yet know I had or that I needed. That was a miserable recovery!
No longer did I have the warmth of my mother’s milk or the sweet juiciness, however fuzzy, of her wild caught offerings. My rescuers offered what they considered “food” and water that lay stagnant in a plastic bowl. I was hungry, so I eventually partook of the dry crunchy “food” and lapped at the stale water. I had been rescued. My life had changed, and I was not pleased.