Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cat Had Kittens

The cat had kittens last night. The miracle of birth happened right before
our wondering eyes. As I stood watching the event with my wife and
children, I kept marveling, "The miracle of birth is absolutely the
messiest miracle in all creation".

The mother cat was not our cat. It was a stray cat that showed up on our
back porch a few weeks ago. It undoubtedly had heard from the other cats
in the neighborhood that my family will feed and care for any animal that
wanders onto our property. The most detestable, downtrodden and destitute
creatures on the planet have found sanctuary in our garage over the years.
They stay in the garage until one of my children discovers them. After the
discovery, the child informs my wife that there is a "really sad cat (or
dog, or squirrel or warthog) living in our garage and it's cold and lonely
and needs to come inside and be with people". Then my wife goes out to
examine the animal to make sure it is as cold and lonely as the child

My wife has the amazing ability to look into the eyes of an animal and
determine what the animal is thinking. When she looks into a kitty's eyes,
she can tell that it's thinking, "I'm lonely and misunderstood and would
appreciate your generously providing me with food, shelter and love." She
responds by bringing the animal into our house and providing it with every
one of it's wishes. Judging by her actions upon viewing a spider, I assume
it must be thinking, "I want you to squish me with a hardcover book." The
afore mentioned cat must have been thinking, "Let me into your house that
I may jettison my cargo of kittens all over your couch". As she brought
the cat in, she told said, "She's pregnant. You don't mind, do you?" How
can she tell what the cat is thinking by looking at it's face, and have no
idea what I'm thinking when she looks at me?

People interact with the animal world on many different levels of
intimacy. When the family dog makes a mess on the floor, it's excused
because the family dog is, in fact, part of the family. It's unreasonable
to kick the family member out of the family for one mistake, even if that
mistake produces a pungent odor and requires disinfectant to clean up.
I've known people who actually kiss household pets. I don't mean a peck on
the forehead either. I know people who kiss animals mouth to mouth. The
thing about animals is that they seldom keep their tongues in their
mouths. They use their tongues to lick themselves, to drink from the
toilet and to eat garbage. You've got to have a special relationship to
french kiss a tongue that's been in all those places.

But we didn't have that kind of relationship with this cat. The cat just
showed up on our porch and dropped a load of kittens. I'm not ready for
that kind of intimacy. For the record, I would like to at least know your
name before you give birth on my furniture. And, if you have fleas, I
would prefer you not be on my furniture for any reason. Is that cruel?
I've never thought of myself as mean and insensitive. In fact it seems
more insensitive to repay the hospitality of a stranger by permanently
staining the upholstery and sprinkling the carpet with parasites.

Now we have a box full of kittens on our back porch. The kids think the
kittens are cute and sweet. I suppose they are kind of cute if your
concept of the word is broad enough to encompass a mass of crusty-eyed,
emaciated mammals that wallow in their own waste. I have a different word
for them.

I don't know exactly what we're going to do with the cats now that they
are "ours". My desperate hope is that cat's are not like salmon; returning
to their place of birth in order to give birth themselves. If that's the
case, I can look forward to a parade of fertile felines roosting on my
sofa for decades to come. I think the best way to handle the situation is
to simply place the cats in the garages of homes wherein dwells a woman
who can read the thoughts of animals.

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