VERNON COUNTY - To think I once called Dr. Miller, a local veterinarian, and innocently asked her, “How do I get my cat pregnant?” Dr. Miller is retired now. I can imagine her repeating this story to her friends on a golf course—that is, if she’s the golfing kind of retired veterinarian.
I wanted my grandkids to witness a birth, the way I did when our family’s Dalmatian, Kelly, was bred intentionally and had puppies. I like to think I learned a lot about life and nature while witnessing that blessed event. The gap in my understanding came from the fact that I wasn’t allowed to attend the actual hook-up. I did, however, get to supervise and even assist my dad when birthing day arrived.
With so many animals coming and going at the Schmidt house, I learned a valuable life lesson. We are born and we die—a natural process, which, although sad on the dying side, is nonetheless inevitable. Now, as an adult, I wanted to share this experience with my grandkids through an all-natural cat birth. I just didn’t know if I needed to schedule a hook-up like my dad did for our dog.
With credit to Dr. Miller, she answered me simply, something like, “I don’t think you’ll need to do anything special, Jane. Just don’t do anything and wait a week, month at the most.”
So I waited. I watched. And soon, without any interference on my part, Frida’s belly started to grow. Before you go any further in this story, let me assure you that I believe strongly in spaying and neutering all my pets. In Frida’s case, I had gone the extra mile and pre-announced her upcoming pregnancy to friends, family and neighbors. I was sure to have homes for at least six babies.
Sadly, the grandkids weren’t here when it happened. One evening, Frida seemed restless and I knew she was going into labor. I made her a nice soft spot to sleep that included her bed and a few blankets. When I woke the next morning I heard a soft noise—not a full-belly meow but a faint mew. I jumped up and headed straight for the bed I had prepared for Frida. It was empty.
I listened and followed the mewing, and there she was, behind my clothes rack, with six tiny kittens—on top of a pile of my clothes. Frida had chosen her own spot for giving birth to her family. None of the kittens had their eyes open yet, and all of them were squirming to get the best position for nursing, while Frida seemed relaxed and content. If she’d had a cigarette, she would have been smoking.
Moses, my five-dollar resale-shop dog, appointed himself guardian of the kitties and hardly let them out of his sight. Eventually, I convinced Frida to bring her babies downstairs where it was easier for her, Moses, and me to keep watch on the rapidly growing kittens.
My announcements advertised “baby kittens, all-natural home birth, breastfed and adorable.” I soon found homes for all of them. Two went to friends, one to my neighbor, Dane and his mom took two, and I kept one whom I named Farley.
It’s been years since Frida passed on. Farley and Spike, one of the kittens Dane took, are the only survivors from this miraculous birth. I still don’t know who their father was.
I’ve learned a lot since asking Dr. Miller how to get my cat pregnant. That’s why Monkey is with Grandpa Farley on the porch swing now, waiting anxiously for Lorca to come home from the vet where he went to be neutered. Maurice, a palmful of soft gray fur, who lived in a barn before coming here, is hiding inside the cat tower. I think he knows he’s next!