Mama gave birth to her first litter of kittens at the far end of the park. She nestled herself as far away from the playground as possible between the weeds behind the bench on the trail that led down to the woods. The air was cool, the rain fell hard, and Mama knew something was wrong right away.
Mama’s kittens tried to drink her milk, but there wasn’t enough to feed them. Her kittens were small and weak. The wind made their tiny bodies shiver. She tried desperately to find them alternative food sources – bugs and mice and things around the park, but it was of no use. They needed her milk, but she didn’t have enough to save them.
Mama was mourning the loss of her litter when the woman with the long black hair came jogging up the path. Mama recognized her scent from the grey house down the road where Walter the indoor cat lived. It was a good house because there was often cat food left out on the back deck. Mama ate there a few nights a week.
The woman with the long black hair stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted Mama’s lifeless kittens in the grass behind the bench, only a few feet away from where they’d been born a few days ago. Mama hid in the bushes.
The lady left then returned with a small shoe box, a beach towel and a shovel. Mama watched as she picked up each of the kittens and wrapped them in the towel and delicately tucked them in the box. Mama followed her silently down the trail into the woods, where the lady with the long black hair wandered off course. She dug a hole beneath a large oak tree, placed the shoe box inside and covered it back up with dirt. Mama knew her kittens would be safe there.
The lady jogged back to the path, then she suddenly set the shovel down on the floor. She sat on Mama’s favourite bench, buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Mama knew better than to trust humans, but this one seemed okay. Mama silently jumped onto the bench next to the lady, and they sat there together, missing those three precious kittens. When the lady finally stood up to go home, Mama darted away, back into the woods.
That night, Mama paid a visit to the grey house where the lady with the long black hair and Walter the indoor cat lived. Sure enough, there was both wet food and dry food left on the deck. There were even some of those delectable treats for Mama! She purred a little as she ate her feast in the dark.
Walter appeared at the back sliding door pretty quickly, like he always did. He hissed at Mama and swatted at the door. Mama was quick to hiss back then keep eating. She wasn’t afraid of some indoor house cat!
Mama herself had been a house cat once, back when she was just a kitten. She’d lived in a red house a few blocks away with a human family. Life was easier then. They fed her regularly, played fun games with her, and she even had her own tower.
Then one day a big truck arrived and strangers swarmed the house. Mama was stressed out that day, by all the commotion. They kept moving all the furniture! They grabbed her bed, her toys, and even her tower. Terrified, Mama slipped out the front door and ran until she found the park. It was her first time outside, and she loved feeling the grass beneath her feet, climbing the huge trees and napping in the bushes carefully placed beneath a ray of sun.
When it started to rain, Mama decided it was time to get back home. She was relieved to see the monstrous truck was gone, replaced by a car she’d never seen before. She sauntered onto the porch and meowed at the door to be let in, but nobody came for her. She slept beneath the porch bench that night.
The next morning, a strange man she had never seen before opened the door. Mama tried to dart inside her house, but he yelled at her! He reached inside the house for a shoe and hit her with it! The nerve of this man! Couldn’t he smell her scent on every inch of that house? That was her territory!
Mama hissed and scratched at his leg as hard she could. She ran back to the park. She searched the neighborhood for her family, trying to catch a whiff of them, but they were no where to be found. She never saw them again, and she never returned to the red house. From then on, she lived in the park alone.
Back on Walter’s deck, Mama was almost finished eating the food when the lady with the long black hair appeared at the door. She motioned for Mama to come closer to her, holding more of those treats in her hand. Letting her guard down, Mama obliged. That’s when she caught sight of the cat carrier the lady had been hiding behind her back. It reeked of Walter’s scent. When the lady tried to grab Mama and nudge her into the carrier, Mama nipped her hand, hissed and ran back to the park. She knew humans couldn’t be trusted!
Mama had her next litter just a few months later. There were 7 kittens this time, so they had to move to a bigger bush, deeper in the woods. To her horror, Mama knew it was happening again. She didn’t have enough milk to feed her kittens. She panicked, realizing the only thing she could do would be to go back to Walter’s and get the lady with the long black hair’s help.
She went back to the deck she’d avoided for weeks since the lady had tried to capture her. The free food wasn’t worth the risk. But her babies needed help. She pawed at the door and wailed desperately. Sure enough, the woman with the long black hair appeared. Mama was able to herd her back to the park and show where her new kittens were. The lady instantly understood.
Within a few minutes, the lady with the long black hair returned to the park with a large cardboard box. She placed all the tiny blue-eyed kittens inside and motioned for Mama to get in the box too. Mama didn’t fully trust her yet, but she needed to be with her babies. She got in the box too.
Mama and her kittens were placed alone in a bedroom that was owned by Walter at the time. Walter was locked out and soon Mama had her scent everywhere. The lady fed Mama’s kittens with a plastic syringe and within days the kittens began growing strong. They were thriving. And Mama was sleeping peacefully for the first time in years.
One day, several weeks later, a stranger arrived and picked up one of Mama’s kittens. Mama hissed and spit at him, but he took the baby regardless. Throughout the week, more people began showing up and collecting Mama’s kittens. The lady with the long black hair explained to Mama that the kittens were healthy and strong now and ready to live their own lives. She promised Mama that all the kittens would be going to loving homes and would be well taken care of.
That’s when I had the pleasure of meeting Mama, when she only had three kittens left with her from her second litter. She was a proud and heroic Mama, who saved her kittens in the only way she knew how. By the time I showed up to the grey house, she was used to seeing her kittens off. She even let me pet her. Her selfless bravery is the reason I live with her only fully black kitten, my darling best friend, Red.