Posted April 1, 2017 By Wanda Fraser
It all started with Steve or, as she was known then, Pacino. My husband swore we could never have a cat. He’d had cats before. “Kittens are cute…” he said, “…but they grow up to be cats.” The most amazing friend a girl could ask for, Rosa, knew I loved cats so when a mutual friend found herself in need of a good home for some kittens, she brought me one.
You see, Rosa lived with my husband and myself for awhile when she was going through a hard time and she knew my husband. They’d been friends for decades, after all – long before I came into the picture. When she was living with us, the “no cats” rule was actually, “no pets”.
Then we got a bunny. Then we came upon a friend who needed a good home for a dog (she initially planned to keep the dog herself but this was a big dog and she lived in a not-big-dog-friendly apartment). My husband took one look at the dog and fell in love.
The dog, who came to us already named De Niro, quickly became his best pal. Rosa was banking on a similar reaction to a new kitten. She got it. Not only did my husband fall in love, so did I and De Niro, well she was a bit indifferent but was basically fine with the situation as long as the small white fuzz ball stayed away from her food.
Things were great for a long while. Pacino, over time, came to be known as ‘Steve’ through a long series of name changes far too elaborate to get into in this story.
My husband’s nephew wound up with some unexpected kittens and because my husband had grown to be a serious cat person by that time, he brought one of those kittens home. I made the mistake of bringing the kitten into the house.
That is the moment the war between Steve and I began. Well, not so much war. It was too one-sided for that. Steve, as always, was my world. I, all of a sudden, was the object of all of her furry fury. She hated me. She wasn’t happy with the kitten but boy did she ever hate me.
Eventually, the scratching and biting every time I was in her general vicinity stopped and gave way to cool indifference. She didn’t hate me as passionately but legitimately could not have cared less if I continued to exist.
You may notice I said nothing about having Steve spayed. Well, at that time, we were sadly uneducated on the risks associated with not having a cat spayed. She was an indoor only cat and for a while, was the only cat at all. Even though we found ourselves with a new kitten, that kitten was also a female, so we thought it would be okay.
Of course, I’ve now learned of all the problems that can come with not having a female cat spayed. The increased risk of certain types of cancers and the dreaded ‘heat’ that is uncomfortable for the cat and anyone that happens to be around the cat.
I will never make that mistake again. However, we also learned it is never safe to assume that you can know the sex of a kitten just by looking before a certain age if you don’t actually know what you’re looking for.
By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out where I’m going with this. Our sweet, teddy bear looking kitten had a behind so furry we couldn’t see the trouble lurking under that tail. We figured out Morgan (Mookie as she was affectionately known) was a boy when Steve went into heat and we found them together making kittens.
The damage was done. Steve was pregnant and although Mookie was immediately taken for a visit to the vet, we now had kittens to consider. We started the process of looking for homes for the kittens, so angry at ourselves for being so irresponsible.
We also started preparing a luxurious birthing box for Steve while Mookie mourned the loss of his beloved testicles. Kidding. He had the procedure and was back to strutting around like nothing happened the very next day.
Poor Steve grew rounder and rounder and I know – I know for a fact – she did not blame Mookie for the situation she was in. She saw me carry him into the house. She knew who was really to blame. She’d sometimes sit and stare at me for hours. I’d try to pet her, she’d growl and walk away. She’d put her feet up on my lap and just as I was getting excited that she’d finally forgive me, she’d walk away.
Then it happened. The day I was waiting for. Steve finally forgave me and jumped into my lap. My husband put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time.” “For love? You’re right. I didn’t think… oh.” I looked down at Steve’s hind end. It was time for the kittens. My husband went to get her box. She laid down and stared into my eyes, panting. I stopped my husband. He laughed.
My husband: “Is she… laying down?”
Me:”I think Steve has decided she wants to have her kittens in my lap.”
My husband: “That’s freaking weird.”
Me: “Yes. It is.”
An hour later (and a panicked call to the vet) still no kittens. It was well after midnight and I needed to go to bed. My vet said to put her in her birthing box and put my dog in the other room so she would be safe. Then he said to go to bed. I did as he said, putting Steve into her birthing box and going to bed. Seconds later, Steve was up on the bed with me, pawing at the covers.
I pulled the covers back like I did with her when she was a kitten and she climbed under, laying down on my stomach. Steve had her first kitten, Mullet, shortly thereafter. Then came Dewey (originally Deuce because he was born second). Steve laid on my stomach the entire time. That’s where she cleaned them. That’s where she fed them. When I woke up in the morning, Steve was still there with her two babies suckling. When she needed to feel secure and safe and protected, Steve came to me.
I don’t know why. I’ve never known why but I can tell you that as I’m writing this, I’m crying a little. What happened to the kittens? I found homes for them where I knew they would be loved and protected – where their people would move heaven and earth to make sure they were safe and happy.
In other words, we kept them with us. Steve trusted me to protect her and to protect her babies. There was no way on earth I was going to break that trust. Mookie, despite what people might think, was a very involved Dad, always watching over the kittens and sometimes grooming Queen Steve.
And, for the record, Steve was spayed as soon as it was safe to do so and Mullet and Dewey were both neutered as soon as they were old enough. Although we never thought we’ve had four cats and a dumb mistake on our parts lead to Mullet and Dewey, I would never have done it any other way. Mullet, to this day, sleeps on my stomach every night.
Steve, on the other hand, had her kittens on my belly and was nice to me for five weeks then returned to cold indifference. But now, deep down, I know she loves me. She just refuses to let me know that if she has any choice.
Photos courtesy of Wanda Fraser