Lessons In Motherhood by Joyce A. Anthony
I felt like Old Macdonald–here a kitten, there a kitten…seventeen kittens to be exact. I tried reminding myself it was a total lack of common sense on my part that had produced this. Four females and two males are bound to produce a bunch of little furballs eventually. It just never occurred to me I’d have four litters at once.
I was doing my “kitty count” to make sure none of the little ones had wandered off and gotten stuck somewhere. Once again I found myself rearranging the litters. I knew which kitten belonged where, but the mothers appeared confused—-they all thought every kitten was their own and were constantly “stealing” babies from each other.
I was thinking about how one little boy and one kitten could turn into this. We brought Sky home, a neighbor rescued a sweet little calico who was thrown out of a car, they had a baby, then there were those big brown eyes staring at me and pleading: “But, Mommy, he’ll DIE out there all alone!!!”
- I looked at the mothers and said, “You had them, figure it out!!!”. That’s when I started to learn some wonderful lessons on motherhood.
If a mother can’t do her job, be willing to help her out. Seneca didn’t get milk so Caramel took over feeding her kittens, making no difference between them and her own.
If it’s hungry, feed it. As they were able to get around on their own, the kittens picked whichever mother was closest to nurse from. None of the mothers protested.
If a baby cries, everyone runs to check on it. This everyone includes and adults and some siblings. Nobody stayed in trouble or lonely for long.
Males are important in childcare. Sky and Spirit checked on sleeping kittens, played with the babies and administered occasional discipline. More than once I’d find them asleep with kittens curled up next to them.
You don’t need to yell to get a child’s attention. All the adults used a special, barely audible sound when talking to the kittens—and the kittens listened very well.
When children are involved, differences get put aside. Sierra was always attacking Caramel, until the babies came. While there were kittens around, peace was the daily way of life.
Little ones bring out the kid in all of us. All the adults were more playful when the kittens were around.
Mothers need pampering, too. Once the kittens were taken care of, the adults groomed each other and asked for more cuddles.
When your job is finished, let go. By the time the kittens were eight weeks old, the mothers had no problem seeing them move on to families that would love them.
All the kittens found loving homes and all the adults have made a visit to the vet. While I won’t see more kittens at home, I can guarantee with my six there will never be a dull moment. I can’t help looking back and thinking–If we followed a cat’s lead in mothering more often, the world couldn’t help but be a better place.