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Grateful for a joyous, much-needed distraction

GAYS MILLS - Well, in the middle of lots of life changing chaos that has poured over our lives in the last two weeks, our frisky little Mao Mao gave birth to five fluffy kittens. The kicker? Three of them have no tails!

My father-in-law passed away suddenly on Tuesday, March 27—bringing a lot of tears and sadness to our house. In the midst of all of that, we had kind of forgotten about poor old Mao, Lunch, and Bud. Laying in bed listening to the cats harvesting mice and the next morning finding a coyote carcass in our yard that Bud had found (we have our doubts that he actually killed it, he’s far too lazy for that), hoisted me out of my fog of despair to fill their dishes with kibble.

On Thursday morning, we were milling around the kitchen, waiting for Grandma to arrive so we could once again head down to Boscobel greeting the droves of grieving friends and family and making our way to the funeral home to prepare arrangements for the departed.

 Coupled with the milling about was the constant chant of “Thatcher, be nice to Mao! Please Thatcher don’t sit on the cat!”  The poor bloated, ridiculously fat thing waddled away slowly, occasionally mewing for mercy as Thatcher squealed with delight.

Finally, Grandma Abby showed up and we gave her the quick run down, that on top of watching a frisky, excited toddler, she would also be playing the Cat Doula role on that day.

As Mao laid on the carpet panting and undoubtedly going into labor, Chasca cut the top off of a box and tossed an old sheet in and so gently plopped the cat in as she began to yowl. It made me feel assured that if we were to have another baby and didn’t make it to the hospital, he could at least make me a nest from old towels and cardboard before running around the house asking me what to do next.

Crunched for time and lacking functioning brain cells, we issued Thatcher a bowl of Cheeto Puffs and a juice box as he sat in his mini lawn chair next to the cat nest and cheered Mao on.

“Bee Bees! Mao BEE BEES! Cheese! Juice!” he continued to chirp, as though life didn’t get much better than junk food for breakfast and watching cat birth.

Grandma Abby hunched over the poor laboring Mao petting her head gently and trying to keep her calm in-between contractions and squeals from the toddler.  We tossed a cloth diaper over her shoulder and walked out the door.

Upon returning home that night Grandma Abby presented us with four cute little kittens. Three of which were completely without tails! Thatcher was so proud.

The next morning, the crazy long-legged toddler jumped out of bed like he normally does and ran to the kitchen and began slamming the cupboards, as he normally does but then finally was quiet. My eyes popped open, “KITTENS!” I exclaimed. Chasca flew out of bed as fast as can be with me on his heels. Thatcher was standing over the empty cardboard nest, holding his hands out looking confused, “bee bees?” he asked.

Distressed we began tearing our house apart, looking in all of the strange places that kittens may be.

At one point of temporary insanity, Chasca accused Lunch of dragging the kittens outside to freeze over night. We were devastated.

Finally, after a lot of following Mao to the toilet or to play in the plants, we gave up thinking certainly the kittens must be gone. I laid Thatcher down for a nap and watched Lunch run out the door. Now, I would never claim to be any kind of cat whisperer nor even very in touch with the feline kind at any capacity but it seemed as though in the peace of the house, Mao was trying to tell me something.

I followed her back into the deepest depths of my closet where a diaper box full of old crib sheets was shoved. Crawling under my hanging wardrobe I could hear the soft mews of what had turned into five baby kittens.  A little all black-tailed fluffy kitten was kneading into the ball with his four other siblings.

Following so much difficulty and devastation that we had experienced in a few short days, finding these five tiny lives that we thought were gone felt like a huge weight being lifted off of our shoulders, at least for a little while.