The sleek gray cat we had taken in from the alley, Sofie, was about to burst in the middle. The vet confirmed that she was pregnant weeks before, but could not estimate a birth day.
Questions loomed in my household. What were we supposed to do to facilitate cat birth? How would we know when the time was near?
It was a snowy February 9 when I decided to work from home. I typed away the morning on the couch. Right around lunchtime, Sofie started jumping on the couch, squeaking and flopping, then walking halfway up the stairs, then back down.
The last iteration of this strange behavior pattern left a few dark red spots of liquid on the couch, and a little nugget of something resembling a bloody booger. The cat was in labor.
We had prepared the spare room as a birth space based on various writeups we found on the Web. I grabbed the phone charger and followed Sofie into the spare room, where she immediately hid under a table, away from the towel-lined box designed for kitten birth.
I began (my first ever) live stream on facebook. The first of four kittens looked like a gray piece of bubble gum protruding from Sofie’s posterior. Sofie was literally giving birth while walking, dragging her first along the hardwood floor.
She then left that kitten and lay down in the litter box. That first kitten, now known as “Drag,” was wailing and dragging her placenta. The facebook viewers were frantically typing suggestions as I got the birth box together to move Sofie into it.
Another kitten was born immediately after Sofie planted herself in the towels (Mini-Sofie). I grabbed a rag and moved Drag, placenta and all, into the box.
One more was born that afternoon (Stripe). The next morning, my wife called down to me, “Hon? There’s four!” “Surprise” had slipped out overnight.
The subsequent ten weeks was filled with the miracle of nature. Little wet scrawny creatures grew into full-fledged kittens. They eventually escaped the box, and entering their birth room was like opening the lid of a fuzzy popcorn machine.
These small, elusive, feathery tyrants eventually took over the house. They stampeded through the hallway, up and down the stairs. Screeched nonstop. Until April 22.
April 22 was the day we designated to arrange pick-ups by their respective guardians. It was a socially pleasant day overshadowed by the bittersweet reality of the kitten situation. Mini-Sofie was the first to leave the house. My wife cried, and I was disheartened. This was to be the pattern set for the day. Naturally, I thought it appropriate to go buy beer.
Next, Surprise’s and Stripe’s new guardians showed up. After a few drinks with that group, we took them to the bar around the corner for an early dinner. Stripe left. More crying. Surprise left. More crying.
As of now, we still have Drag, as a scheduling conflict has mercifully allowed us to retain this last drop of kitteny goodness. But the absence of the morning kitten stampede is nothing short of pure sadness, and I’m sure it will be for a little while. I am in full kitten withdrawal.