My story begins eighteen months ago, when our youngest son and his wife moved out of Ed’s mom’s house, and left two cats behind. For a brief moment, they considered taking the old cat named Trouble with them, but decided Trouble was too old and set in her ways to successfully relocate. The second cat, aptly named ‘Feral Kitty’, was simply too wild to catch. Ed and I promised to feed the cats each day, for as long as they lived at the empty house. Ed’s not only kept that promise, he’s done more.
Trouble continues to live at Ed’s mom’s empty house, but Feral Kitty disappeared about four or five months ago. A few months before she disappeared, Feral Kitty gave birth to three gray kittens, who were even wilder than she was–and that’s saying a lot!
For a while, Ed was feeding five cats instead of two, then one of the kittens disappeared. Ed had been working on taming the kittens, by trying to rub them while they ate. He had only been successful with one kitten, which, unfortunately, disappeared when it was just a few weeks old. The mama cat eventually took the two remaining kittens to our oldest son’s house, where Ed continued feeding them.
Eventually, one of the two remaining kittens actually found its way from our son’s house to our house! I joked and said he followed ‘the man with the can’ home. I was able to tame this kitten, who turned out to be a male. I named him ‘Jo Jo’, and he still lives with us today. The other kitten remained at our son’s house, where Ed continued feeding her on a daily basis, in addition to the scraps she got from our son and his family. Ed was never able to tame this cat, but our grandson named it ‘Stranger Cat’. This cat turned out to be a female.
Shortly after the first of this year, strange tom cats began turning up at our son’s house–first a black one, then a red one! Before long, it became obvious that ‘Stranger Cat’ was going to have kittens. Ed continued feeding her, and was actually able to pet the cat a few times, while she was pregnant. Stranger Cat gave birth to six kittens around the end of March, then promptly disappeared about four weeks later. (We assume something killed her.)
The kittens were very small when their mom disappeared, but, somehow, they were able to eat well enough to survive. Unfortunately, they were as wild as their mother had been! Ed fed them daily, and tried to pet them while they ate–unsuccessfully–except for one…
I’d usually be cooking supper when Ed would go feed the cats, but he’d give me a cat report each day. The kittens were several weeks old before I ever saw them, but Ed kept referring to this one cute “gray colored” kitten he’d been able to pet. He spoke of this kitten fondly.
When I finally saw the kittens, I dubbed them the “Rainbow Kittens” because they were so many different colors. There were black ones, a tabby one, and one cream-colored kitten–but here wasn’t a gray kitten in the bunch! The “gray colored” kitten Ed kept referring to was actually a cream-colored kitten–with dark brown markings, and beautiful blue eyes! The kitten looked exactly like our old cat, Charlie–who came from Ed’s parents’ house, many years ago!
One day last week, I rode with Ed to feed the kittens. When we drove up, there wasn’t a kitten in sight. Ed beat on the bowl with a spoon and, soon, cats began jumping out of the over-growth in the field between us and our son’s house! We, also, noticed a large red tom cat was with them, watching us from a distance.
A couple of days later, no kittens showed up for supper. Ed wondered if the red tom cat had something to do with their disappearance. Later that afternoon, Ed spotted three of the kittens near his brother’s house, which is also located on the family farm. Those little kittens had made their way to the opposite end of the grown-up field (about 1/4 mile away)! The following day, Thursday, our aunt called to ask if we were missing any kittens. Two of the kittens had shown up at her house, located on the far side of the grown up field! Wild kittens were showing up everywhere.
On Friday afternoon, Ed stopped by his mom’s house. Trouble was there, as usual, along with Ed’s friend, the cream-colored kitten! It was simply amazing that kittens so little, were making their way around a 30 acre farm–and surviving! That little kitten followed Ed’s every step on Friday afternoon! It was obvious that he recognized ‘the man with the can’, and he was hungry!
It wasn’t long before we heard a cat meowing from the edge of the field, so we turned to see who it was. It was the same red tom cat we’d seen in the edge of the field, a few days before. He was apparently calling the little cream-colored kitten! It was then we figured out that the red tom cat had taken all of the kittens into the over-grown field with him! Was he trying to find homes for them, or was he trying to get them lost? Perhaps he was just trying to teach them how to hunt. We’ll never know.
Long story made a little shorter, Ed and I ended up bringing the cream-colored kitten home with us that day. The kitten was so little, and so pitiful, I couldn’t leave it behind, at the mercy of that red tom cat! The kitten wasn’t much more than a little fur ball of skin and bones. The kitten’s fur was filled with trash from being in the under-brush of the field, and its little eyes and nose were runny because it had a cold.
I have no idea whether this kitten is a he or a she, because it’s still too small for me to be able to tell. It’s been with us for four days, and has made itself at home on our front porch! I’ve been feeding it three times a day, and it’s beginning to put on a little weight. It still has a bit of a cold, but I’m hoping time will take care of that.
I can’t help but wonder if those other kittens are surviving, and, if so, where they are. I don’t know what the future holds for our newest family member, but I know it has a home here, for as long as it wants one. I haven’t chosen a name for kitty, but perhaps I should call it “Lucky”, because it’s just that!
***I have to add a footnote here.
Trouble, the cat, became very sick a few weeks ago, and we thought her end was near. (After all, she’s very old.) Trouble wasn’t able to eat much food, she lost weight, and even had labored breathing for several days. We basically said our goodbyes to her, during that time. Then, out of the blue, she began to eat and act normal again!
We’ve decided that Trouble must have gotten something hung in her throat, which prevented her from eating, and made it difficult to breathe. Whatever it was, must have finally dislodged. Of course, we’ll never know, for sure, but that’s Ed’s speculation.
Trouble continues to greet ‘the man with the can’ each and every day! Ed feeds her, and leaves a little extra–in case a hungry kitten wanders by… The saga of ‘Trouble and the man with the can continues’…