Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Fork


Came home from work, Thursday it was, and checked on the kittens. Momma was out. Kittens were stashed again, amongst the debris of the shed where just about anything might fall on them. At first I couldn't find them at all, but I'd learned where to look, and sure enough, eventually one popped up. The last one I had to poke into reaching room from behind, gently using an available crowbar to nudge his/her backside so she/he would walk into the light. I got them inside, into the kennel, along with their little cardboard box bed we'd made for them out in the shed. Put a small litter box in with them, and some food. Some ate a bit after a while, one didn't. When Libby got home she discovered that they loved beef baby food, of which for some reason we had a jar (actually I think it was a treat for our dear departed Yoey during her last days, when she wouldn't eat at all).

We talked a lot about the dangers to them outside. We live in a good sized oak and hickory forest, in one of the most rural places left in central North Carolina. There are two small streams which meet on our place and then head off to the northeast, to meet the Mighty Haw river flowing northwest/southeast and dividing the county diagonally, the Haw eventually creating Jordan Lake impound, and below the dam joining the Deep and becoming after that a part of the Cape Fear River, which flows to Wilmington and the Atlantic Ocean. Some of these waters were John Lawson's "roads" during his long trek around the country, although he favored the Neuse and Tar watersheds to the northeast of the Cape Fear, which led him eventually to the place that became Bath, NC, the Tar eventually becoming the Pamlico River at what NC oldtimers call "little" Washington. The point being that all these rivers bring sustenance to many wild creatures--deer, beaver, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, possum, red and gray fox, all manner of snakes including copperheads, water moccasins, and the eastern diamondback, and the black and king snakes, the bobcat (heard 'em now and then), the coyote (sightings near our place), now and then a black bear will walk up from the vast lowland swamps of the NC coastal plain, which we find out about by some absurdity of a suburban or mall sighting, when the rivers run into our cities. And of course we have owls, red-tail hawks, and even some eagles (many nesting pairs are observed around Lake Jordan, a happy side-effect of the efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers). And if you think about it, quite a good percentage of these creatures would find a kitten a tasty breakfast snack.

[Kittens in their box]

Friday went well. The kittens ate and, just as important, pooped. They seem healthy and are due to go to the vet for their first checkup next week. Momma is still around and calls to them from under the house. We're feeding her, talking to her, and hope to eventually get her neutered if we can catch her in a have-a-heart, since she doesn't need to become a kitten making machine, the cat world being much more organized like a very hard-core fundamentalist church than a paradise of freedom and liberty, unless you're in the moment of being top Tom, which is probably pretty fun if short-lived. This is perhaps why many folks think that when they drop off the extra puppy or cat or annoying dog, they're really just letting them "be themselves," free in the wild woods, free to run and whoop and play like people would too, if they didn't have jobs or were looking for jobs. Same for those people who don't "believe" in neutering a pet, or in fencing them in. Dogs, they think, need to run. Or maybe it's just that the struggle to teach a dog that he has a master has been won by the dog. There's a whole TV show about that, by the way.

Saturday morning I was up making coffee and four full grown dogs loped through the yard and just past the kitten shed. None had collars. Our decision was in my mind confirmed. We've barricaded a good sized portion of the living room around the kennel location, where the kits can amble and play, without letting them escape entirely into the whole house, with it's many places where a kitten can get in but perhaps not out, entailing hours of furniture moving on our parts. We do have other things to do. Really we do.

One of these days I'll tell you the story Maggie Hammons told me, long ago, about the man who decided to raise up a "panther" from a cub.

Update: I meant to note yesterday that Libby took both of the photos. Re the comment about porch supervised visiting, that idea has been raised in other quarters as well, and is a good one. We have already had the kennel outside (Friday, before the rains came this weekend) so that perhaps momma can visit them, or at least see they're ok. We're a bit concerned that she might herd them away if "unsupervised." She is extremely skittish of people, and will not get close even with the temptation of a full food bowl, if she sees a person--making "supervision" somewhat of a problem. Perhaps we could dress up like big kittens, as per the birding show I saw over the weekend, where a birder was dressed as a tumbleweed so as to view Harris Hawks in the Arizona desert. At least Momma would get a laugh.


  1. Maybe Momma could be allowed supervised visits on your screened porch. You might be able to catch her that way, too. If she went in the shed, she might come on the porch for food or kittens. She's beautiful and the one who found you. Thanks for posting their pics.

  2. i agree that those pictures are fabulous--momma peering so intently from behind the tree, the winsome kittens with their feral eyes. i am loving this story.

  3. OK, i have carelessly lost your email address (or my stupid work email has eaten it) but i need to know how the kittens are! and the mesmerizing momma cat with the glowy eyes. what's the latest?