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Where the magic and the mystery never end!
ENJOY

LAURA BETH 

"THE MAGIC AND THE MYSTERY NEVER END!"

"MIDNIGHT LESSONS FROM MY CLOSET "
My true cat tale of taking in a stray 
with kittens on the way.


January 2013 was a month I will never forget. Not only did my father pass away this one particular week in January, but one of our family rabbits unexpectedly lost his life to cancer. Opening my house to another animal was the furthest thing from my mind. Many friends referred to my home as ‘the farm’. Three dogs, Mollie, Ana and Diego, had blessed this house until the ages of 15, 14 and 12 respectively. A hermit crab, Harriet, lived over five years. One fish, Mr. Fishy, lived over five years and a shark fish, Shark Fish, is now going on ten. A hamster, Rory, was adopted and also lived out her life with us. Two rabbits, Ela Rose and Edgar, were rescued and joined the farm when Diego, Rory and Mr. Shark Fish were still around. After Rory and Diego left this world in 2012, Ela Rose and Edgar were going to be our last animals for a while, as my son was in his senior year of high school. Plans of traveling were on the horizon with no worries of animals left behind except for Mr. Shark Fish with a new home planned once the time would be needed.  


After having to say good-bye a day before to our rabbit, Edgar, three cats showed up at my patio, slider door. I didn’t see them until Henry pointed them out to me. There sat a small, skinny black cat in between two big, whitish tomcats.


I told Henry that I wasn’t in the mood to deal with them and begged him to not feed them.  I reminded him that we would all be leaving in two days for my father’s memorial service and that I would be staying with my mother for ten days. Not being able to sit with three pair of eyes on him, Henry couldn’t take it. He threw out a handful of cat food. Oh I forgot, we also took care of a cat, Minnie Cat, that had been left behind by a family. So, we had cat food on hand.


What was so unbelievable to witness was watching the two big cats step back and they both let the small, skinny cat eat it all. Henry guessed it right away. “That black cat is expecting and one of those big cats is the father.” The next night all three cats were back.  And just like the evening before, only the black cat ate.


The day we had to leave, I called my neighbor Liz, a true cat lover, and asked her to look out for these cats while I was gone. I felt bad we had fed them and now we were leaving. My neighbor said she thought the black one was their cat, Ninja, who had ran away just after moving into the neighborhood. If so, this cat was a male cat. That was a relief to me. We left for ten days.  I even called my animal sitter to alert her there was another cat, besides Minnie, that may be waiting for food.


When I returned, Henry was already working on an engineering project in Texas that would keep him away for quite some time. I figured the cats would now either be gone or enjoying my neighbor’s love. When I saw my neighbor, she said she had seen them a couple of times. Because they ran whenever she tried to befriend them, she decided to leave some food at my slider door. She also still thought the black one could be her Ninja cat and asked me to try and befriend him. I agreed I would try if he should show back up.


To my surprise, the black cat returned all by itself that week. So, I started giving it food and watching it from inside. After a week of leaving it alone, I sat down on the slider step and watched it. It watched me too and dashed away if I even moved. The next week, I held out my hand with food in it. It came closer, but it wouldn't take a bite. So, I put the food and water next to me and held my hand out. The black cat came close enough for me to touch it with my finger. As the small, black cat returned morning and evening, I was finally able to rub it and it seemed to enjoy my company. After about a month went by, the cat seemed to enjoy my hand rubs and I called my neighbor to tell her to come over and see if this was her Ninja cat. When Liz came over and got a close up, she gave me the news. “That’s a pregnant female.”


Four weeks had gone by now since this cat had walked up to my door. I immediately looked up the gestation period of cats and found out it was anywhere between 58-65 days! We were about half-way there. Henry had been right and he chuckled when I told him. He was going to be in Texas and I was on my own. My son was excited, as he loved having all the animals around and loved it even more that mommy took care of them all. It was his senior year and he was busy having fun and getting ready for college.


Well, the first thing I did was give this cat a name. Thus, she became Midnight. By the next week, she was definitely showing. I figured I had about three weeks to help this cat trust me, so I began feeding her just inside my slider door in the morning and letting her outside during the day. At night, I kept her inside. She was just like a caged, wild animal. I wasn't sure I could even get close to her. So, I began sleeping on my family room couch allowing her to just roam around from that night until the kittens were two days old. That was three full weeks of sleeping on the family room couch and eventually she began sleeping right on top of me. Ela Rose was still with us at this time and I had to make sure Midnight didn't harm our rabbit of seven years. I think Ela Rose was enjoying another animal around after losing her beau. She was very curious and continued trying to get close to Midnight. And, Minnie Cat was also in and out of the house, but she mainly stayed outside.  Minnie was not too happy with her competition.


The week that I figured the babies should be coming; I stopped on my way home from work and purchased a three tier, cat condo tower. Midnight didn’t love it, but I didn’t want kittens born just anywhere in my house. I bought her a nice bed, moved her litter box inside the condo and placed her food and water on the lower shelf. I only left her in there when I was not at home. I even covered it so she had privacy.


I knew that her obvious, uncomfortable behavior on March 27th was an alert she would be having her babies any time now. She, nor I, got any sleep that night. She was now used to sleeping on top of me. I could feel her babies moving and kicking. I felt that she had three in there, but everyone kept telling me most litters were four to six. I was panicking, but just tried to not worry and enjoy the experience.


On March 28th, 2013, I left Midnight in her condo and went to work. When I arrived home from work at six-thirty, there was Midnight with one kitten nursing and all cleaned and dried. The kitten looked like a little black and white tiger. I immediately called the veterinarian for support. She told me just to let Mother Nature take its course and Midnight would do all the work. She told me that a cat’s first delivery, if this was her first, could last up to a day with kittens being born hours apart.


As we were talking, Midnight started panting and I could tell something was happening. Within seconds, another little black and white tiger was born! Midnight went to work cleaning it up. I decided to leave the room and give her privacy. When I returned fifteen minutes later just to peak in on her, she was cleaning up a third black and white, tiny tiger. I wondered how many more would be coming. When I woke the next morning, Friday, there were only three. I tended to her litter box, food and water and went on to work. When I came home, there were still only three.


On Saturday, I decided to clean up my family room and also open up the condo. I wanted to give Midnight a chance to walk around. I put a baby gate up to keep her in my family room. I went to work cleaning Ela Rose’s area. I was busy dusting and vacuuming my family room. As I turned off my vacuum, I noticed Midnight jumping back into the family room across the baby gate. I stood still and watched as she grabbed a kitten in her mouth, scaled the baby gate and disappeared from my dining room. I looked in the condo and there was only one kitten left there. So, she had already taken one while I was busy cleaning.


Seconds later, she again scaled across the baby gate. I ran and took it down. She grabbed kitten number three and I followed her through my house to my closet. She moved her kittens to the right, front corner of my closet. Someone had warned me she probably would move them to a safe, hidden place. Well, she did.


The veterinarian told me to try and leave them alone for three weeks. The vet made a house call to test Minnie Cat for Feline Leukemia and/or Aids. Since she was an inside/outside cat, there would be a probability if she had never been inoculated. If so, the mother and kittens would need to be tested. If the kittens were exposed, then we would have to decide what the right thing was for them. So, the worries and the expense began.


While the vet was there, she peeked in on the mother cat and her kittens.  She told me to bring them to see her when the kittens reached four weeks of age. Soon after the vet left, I went to check in on Midnight and her kittens. She obviously didn’t like strangers looking in on her babies and I found she had quickly moved them to the far, right corner of my closet that was surrounded by stuff with very little room for her and her kittens. So, I waited for her to come out of the closet for her break and I went in and moved a few things around to set up a nice comfortable area all blocked in with one small opening. Midnight seemed happy with the setup and she began raising her babies, initially known as Uno, Dos and Tres, in my closet.


Hence, the lessons began. One night around midnight, I woke up for some reason. The sweet chirps, as I called them, were so touching. I would hear Midnight chirp something and seconds later tiny chirps would answer her. Every night, when I happened to be awake late into the night, I would hear Midnight and her kittens chirping. Their conversations seemed to last for hours. Now, I think back and realize Midnight was probably giving her babies lessons on life. It made it so hard for me to even think about separating them.


When the babies hit their third week of life, my son and I couldn't wait to really meet them. I was letting Midnight out to roam the outside. I thought I was doing something really good. While Midnight was out roaming the woods, Aaron and I picked each of them up for the first time. They still looked almost identical. One kitten had the most freakish looking feet with lots of toes and one had very deformed front legs. It was so sad, but he looked healthy and just as fat as the other two. Midnight had definitely not rejected this little kitten. I looked this ‘bow-legged’ condition up and found that it could be an impossible situation. I decided to not worry about it and waited for their four week visit with the vet. Aaron and I held them everyday to help them get used to people. Two were okay with us and one was not happy to be away from mommy. This was Dos and soon became also known as “Mommy’s Boy”.


The fourth week came along. My neighbor, Liz, offered her help to get Midnight and her little ones to the vet for their first check up. We found out we were proud parents of a little girl and two little boys. Uno was the girl and very petite. Dos, aka Mommy’s Boy, was the one with lots of toes. Tres was the one with the very bent legs. Midnight and all three babies were very healthy looking, but the vet was worried about Tres. The vet was worried about Tres not being able to truly groom himself, go in a litter box and even move around once he became bigger. I told him I saw him army crawl and keep up with his brother and sister. He told me he would call me once he did some research and told me to keep an open mind. I was already attached to them all. The tests on the other cat returned all negative. Midnight and her kittens had a very slim chance of having any issues unless Midnight herself tested positive for the feline diseases.


A day later, the vet called me to say that Midnight was negative for the feline illnesses, but he felt I should either put Tres down or take him to a specialist for a very expensive surgery. Spending thousands of dollars was not an option, but giving “Mother Nature” a chance to work her magic was an option. I asked the vet if he thought I could wait until Tres was ten weeks old. He said it couldn’t hurt if he was eating, moving around and growing. He didn’t see that he was in any kind of pain. So, we agreed to wait until Tres was ten weeks.


Somewhere during the first four weeks of having the kittens, our floppy-eared, eight-year-old rabbit, Ela Rose, passed away from cancer. Another box of family ashes was added to our mantle.


But, life moved on and kittens were there to replace sad thoughts. And, fleas replaced just about all of my thoughts. The worst part of having taken in this stray cat and letting her have three beautiful babies in my house, I ended up having a flea infestation. I was told I had to wash the kittens at least every other day, if not everyday, to keep the fleas from making them anemic. It would be weeks before I could treat them for fleas. My son got a taste of taking care of tiny, little creatures as I recruited him to dry one while I washed one. Dos, aka Mommy’s Boy, was the hardest to handle. He fought like his life depended upon it. Midnight was now treated for fleas. The flea bites, the kitten scratches and the tiny teeth bites I received did turn out to be a fond memory. I had to get my home treated for a flea infestation and that meant taking the animals out of the house for most of the day. I had to do this twice to truly rid my home of the tiny, infesting parasites. With all the pets that had lived in our home, I had never had fleas.


Once the kittens had hit four weeks, they were on the move. They began exploring further and further away from the back of my closet. Having a huge bathroom made it possible to keep them all contained. Even Midnight seemed to like having the bathroom and the closet for her domain.  At this point, everyday started at five am and I would enjoy my coffee sitting on the bathroom floor.  And every night I ended my day with Midnight and her tigers climbing all over me.


My son decided he wanted to rename them at this point to something that had more of a meaning to each individual kitten. Thus, Uno became Princess Una to sound more feminine; Dos became Frogger for his extremely webbed looking feet and Tres became our sweet, little Bow. We all coddled Bow. Midnight seemed to coddle Bow with gentleness too. Whenever she only had Bow at her side, she would look at me as if telling me she was worried. Frogger, aka Mommy’s Boy, was the skittish one. He didn’t love to be picked up as did his brother or sister. He seemed to get in trouble with mommy and she would reprimand him with a quick swat. Princess Una was something else. She was prissy and she was very cunning. She would instigate trouble with her brothers and run up to me for safety. She loved perching upon my shoulder and looking down as if to say, “you cannot get me up here”.


Now, what was I going to do with five cats! Remember, I was also taking care of another cat, Minnie, who had been left behind. Henry came home and met the family of cats living in my bathroom. He kept saying, he didn’t mean for me to move her inside the house. He was still working in Texas and happy to return there for a safe haven from kittens and fleas.


Now I knew that I would not be turning any of my kittens over to just anyone thinking they wanted a cat. I felt like they were my babies too.  I reached out to people who I knew loved cats, but they all had cats and also dogs. It was not the right time for them.  As I was trying to decide what I should do with all these cats, Minnie graced me with her presence one last morning.  On this particular morning, she was waiting on the front porch as usual.  She looked very puffy and swollen. After she ate a bit and visited, she walked away.  I never saw her again.  After calling out for her for several days, I believe she walked away to move on to the next world.  The neighbors and I figured that she had to have been about eighteen.  Everyone had known and cared for Minnie.


Life continued to be busy with Midnight and her tigers.  As I began to talk to people about the kittens, a wonderful woman offered to take the girl, who was fluffy and sweet. She already had two cats, but had three children. I had every intention of handing Una over to her and her family until one of my coworkers, Lourdes, saw Una’s picture. Her mother was praying for a fluffy kitten and this was the kitten for her mother. I called Kristen and explained how this kitten would make an older woman so happy. She kindly agreed that this woman should have Una.


I am pretty sure it was Una who was first born. She was the first at doing everything. She weaned herself from Midnight by week five and began using the litter box first. I witnessed her using the little box one evening and both of her brothers followed her lead. When Midnight stopped cleaning up after her babies’, I only had five days of coming home to tiny mistakes. And, I realized that it was Frogger, my mommy’s boy, who was the last to potty train.


Just before their six week old mark, the kittens were all potty trained. Bow’s legs were straightening everyday and he was now doing almost everything the other two could do. Watching him pull himself up on the first step of my bathtub was one of the happiest days that I remember.  


With the veterinarian’s approval, Princess Una was a Mother’s Day present and was presented in her pink, princess bed to Eugenia. Una is now known as Princess Hope to her family. She became apart of a wonderful and loving family. I hear she is definitely a princess. She not only rules over everyone, she loves everyone she encounters. I truly believe Princess Una was born to bless this family.


The very day Hope was adopted, her new family made their first shopping adventure with Hope included. While Princess Hope’s family was parading her around the store, a woman approached Lourdes and asked to see her kitten. She asked Lourdes if she could have her, as she had lost her cat of twenty years a year before and was now ready for a new pet to join her family. Lourdes explained how Hope was her mother’s gift and she couldn’t possibly give her away now. She gave Joann my name and number and told her that I had two little boys needing homes. That week, I had an excited voice mail from Joann asking that I call her to discuss seeing my boys.  


Joann came to my home that week and met Bow and Frogger. I was thinking someone should take Frogger, still not knowing if Bow would be totally fine. She mentioned that she might take both and asked me to keep them until they were ten weeks old. That was perfect and I would be able to monitor Bow’s progress. He needed to be able to hold his body weight, which was more than the other two. So, he was eating just fine.


For the next four weeks, the boys were busy. They still loved being with their mother, but they were now all over my house. I bought them a huge cat tower and they ran up and down chasing one another. They both leaped from the top of the tower all the way onto my bed. Seeing Bow do all this running, leaping and jumping, I knew he would be fine.


At eight weeks old, my son’s graduation came around. Some of my family came to my home and met the family cats. Midnight was okay with my sisters and my niece, but the boys were not so sure of these strangers. Bow quickly gave into being handled, while Frogger was terrified of everyone. My sisters and my niece all tried to help Frogger overcome his fears of people. While Bow was cuddling with my niece, Frogger would hide under my bed. The personalities were so different. I had handled Frogger just as much as I handled Bow and Hope, but Frogger would only come out when I was by myself. Now that I look back at my pictures and videos, I see Frogger was always in my lap.


Joann came over one more time to be sure she could take both of them. Bow went to her without any hesitation and just cuddled into her neck. Frogger was nowhere to be found. At this moment, we both realized I needed to work with Frogger before taking him away from his mother. I was worried how he would react to not having his brother. I would soon find out.


When the kittens were ten weeks old, I had Lourdes and Eugenia bring Hope, while I brought the boys and Midnight to the vet for one last visit all together. Joann met us there too. The kittens were all seen one more time together. The vet was pleasantly surprised to see Bow’s legs were as normal as his siblings. I also found out that Midnight was only about eight months older than her babies and that made me want to give her even more tender, loving care. She wasn’t even one herself.  


Joann took Bow home with her that day and soon renamed him Tigger for his bounciness. Joann continues to share the adventures she and Tigger have together. Joann tells me how blessed she feels to have Tigger and how much she and her family have fallen in love with him. She said even her friends, who were never cat people, have come to love Tigger.


Who ended up with Frogger and Midnight? She is typing this cat’s tale. I changed Frogger’s name one more time to Tyeger, because I feel like he has some wildness in him and to keep the connection with his brother, Tigger. I truly believe Midnight has some bobcat in her lineage, as she and Tyeger both have seven toes. From my research, this could be a genetic defect that happens from the cross breeding of a domestic cat with a bobcat or lynx. The name for this cross breeding is known as Pixiebob.


I knew I would keep Midnight the day I began bringing her into my home. I feel like she found me for a reason. As for Tyeger, he has come to trust and love my family. He still loves being with his mother and Midnight still loves and reprimands him. As I am typing this story, Midnight and Tyeger are sitting together in the chair across the table from me. Tyeger actually became more affectionate towards me once he didn’t have his brother. I have become his playmate for sure. We fight, we chase and we lounge together.


To tell how genetics work, Bow has the same body shape of his mother. They are both smaller in length and pudgy. They both softly chirp with the occasional louder meows. Princess Hope and Tyeger are both extremely long; love to leap throughout their homes and over the furniture. They both talk non-stop. As for Tyeger, he calls me "Mama" and loves repeating the words “no” and “I don’t know”.


As I bring my memorable story to its ending, I think back to the chirps in my closet and I wonder what Midnight may have been telling her kittens. I believe she might have been saying…

“I love you always.”

“I pray you will grow up to be kind.”

“If you’re ever done wrong, try to forgive.”

“Stay away from trouble as much as possible.”

“Think before you act.”

“Learn from your mistakes.”

...and probably so much more.


Welcoming Midnight and her kittens into my home was an experience I will never forget. The expense, the fleas and the sleepless nights are all distant memories. And, I also think this true life saga magically and mysteriously ties into my story line of  "2 Girls, 2 Cats:  A Magical Mystery".  Hint, I call Midnight my little black panther and I call Tyeger my little white tiger.



A FELLOW AUTHOR SHARES HER TRUE LIFE ADVENTURES!

 

HELEN B. NEEDHAM'S  

"THE CAT RESCUER:  A RESCUER'S COLLECTION OF CAT TALES"