It's been three or four weeks since Cliff and I hauled some kittens home from a neighbor's place. They've done pretty well: After spending their first two or three days here shut in the barn with no escape, and being fed there, I opened an entrance for them. They discovered Cliff's shop the first day, and as long as the shop door is open, that seems to be their favorite hangout. Considering Cliff isn't a big cat fancier, he doesn't seem too opposed to cats in his shop; I suspect that is mainly because Cora likes the kittens so much: he will do almost anything to see her happy. I feed the kittens a tiny bit of canned food in the evening; they expect it, and when I say "kitty-kitty-kitty", they come running from the shop as fast as their tiny legs will carry them.
When I first brought them onto the place, my two grown cats, Mama Kitty and Jake, refused to acknowledge the newcomers and even went on a hunger strike of sorts, although I'm pretty sure they were eating something when I wasn't watching. They didn't really get all that skinny during their fast.
A week ago Mama Kitty disappeared. I know she isn't looking for romance, since she's been spayed. It has never been normal for her to disappear, although she did it once before and returned. She is a home body... if the back pasture counts as a part of home, because she spent lots of time out there mousing.
I don't remember how long she was gone the other time, but I have a bad feeling. For one thing, her big son Jake has caterwauled (ha!) constantly ever since her disappearance. He's always been very vocal, but this is different: It's like a low, moaning howl, a wail that he emits all the time. He's easing up on it, though. I guess he's adjusting. Maybe I got those kittens just in time.
Jake still refuses to eat WITH the kittens, but if he begs in the barn when I'm putting feed out, I grab a paper plate and put a handful of cat food on it for him. He digs in for all he's worth until Grady sees the big guy over there eating alone. Then he goes to check it out, starts eating with Jake, and Jake skulks off, miffed.
There's hope, though: This morning Cora and I brought the kittens to the front yard so she could play with them while I dug a trench and planted a few more tulips. I happened to glance up to see big Jake stalking Grady. Just for the briefest time, I saw them batting paws at one another, staging the beginning of a play fight. Then they went their separate ways. I believe an olive branch has been extended.
They'll be OK.
I sure do miss Mama Kitty, but dangers are many for a barn cat. Perhaps a coyote grabbed her when she was out mouse-hunting in the field. She had just begun accepting the kittens as part of our family when she disappeared.
Or maybe there will be one more small miracle and she will return. Jake doesn't seem to think so.