Saturday, 30 July 2016

Cats & Mittens

A couple of cats have been loitering at our corridor these few days. The cats would make eye contact with us when we looked at them like they were asking us to take them in. I don't mind dogs but I am not a big fan of cats. There's something sinister about their eyes. Their claws are not something I would mess with. And I think their mewing sound sounds hauntingly and eerily like babies' cries.

William googled for reasons why cats hang out at certain spots and came back with an answer,"One of the cats is heavily pregnant. They are looking for a safe place to give birth."

I said,"Oh, okay."

Then he continued educating me with his new found knowledge,"According to the Internet, the cat should be giving birth tonight. It needs a safe and private place for giving birth. I am thinking of giving it a box to contain its kittens. The night will be cold and the kittens might freeze to death if they are left out there without a shelter."

He tried persuading me to let the cats in to give birth and promised to limit them to the common bathroom. I am not the cruelest person on the face of this earth, but I really could not see myself coexisting in a house with a cat, much less two! I had a mental picture of myself leaving the house, leaving the cats in the house!

I took out the biggest box we had, a HP printer box, and passed it to him. We stuck three flaps together so that a hole remained for the cats to enter and get out of the box. After that, we put a towel in the box in case the kittens needed some warmth.

And we left the box at our doorstep but the cats were wary and did not come near to the box.

At 12am, the cats were nowhere in sight. They seemed to have roamed off.

At 6am when we awoke, William informed me that the mother cat had given birth in the middle of the night. He had checked on the box at 5.30am and saw a kitten in the box with the mother. At 6.30am when William checked it again, there were three kittens in the box. 

He did some research on what to feed the nursing mother and went to the provision shop nearby to buy some cat's food. Next, he prepared a bowl of water and a litter tray lined with newspapers so that the mother cat could defecate in there. Not sure how the cat is going to be self-trained in littering though. 

By 8.30am, he found five kittens altogether. Apparently, unlike human beings, cats don't give birth to quintuplets by minutes apart.

He left the house to join me for breakfast and upon return, we found the box standing upright! Someone had tampered with the cats' shelter. William peeped into the box, relieved to find that the cat and her babies were still in there, but the tampering of the box had caused the kittens to be covered by the towel. He tilted the box gently back to its original position and tugged at the towel so that the kittens were uncovered.
We opened up the flaps to check if the kittens were fine and found them alive and wriggling.

The mother was very protective of her babies though.

I had read that cats, unlike hamsters, do not ignore or eat up their own babies even when the kittens are touched by foreign hands so that's a great start.

After the initial scare from knowing that someone had moved the box, I decided to stick up a notice to make it known that the cats are cared for and under scrutiny.

The father took it upon himself to sit-guard at the door. 
 I like how calm and cool he looks.
The mother stretched out her limb to put it over her babies when she saw me aiming a huge black thing at them. 'Maternal instinct', they call it.
She arched her back to cling onto her babies, stretching her limb even further in a bid to protect all her kittens.
She became more relaxed after she got used to my camera-aiming.

When we came home at 10.30pm last night, we were surprised that the mother was not in sight! It had probably gone on a date with the father after the babies were fast asleep.

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