Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lessons Learned

I had originally planned to write about an exciting new adventure the Suburban Homestead was experiencing. However, now my plans have had to change. It is still a new adventure and learning experience but this time this blog is being written with a heavy heart.

It is not uncommon to find on our property feral cats that take up refuge in our barns, under the house, or on our back porch. We try to discourage them from staying or we try to capture them and have them humanely taken care of by a lovely non-profit organization called Friends of Cats. These feral cats are often sick or hurt and need additional care that our little homestead can’t handle.
Plus, we have five goofy cats of our own that keep us on our toes and entertained.

I have to admit I have a very soft spot in my heart for cats, especially calicos. I grew up with a calico and she was family favorite. A year ago we adopted a little calico and her brother. As the Fates/Norns would have it this little calico, whom we named Freyja, is a bit twitchy. I think we need to find a new name for her. What is Old Norse for "Twitchy"? One afternoon she escaped. I have to admit up front we hadn’t had her fixed yet. So, when she returned she was knocked up.

Raising Great Dane puppies and kittens can’t be that different? Right?
Viking Dad and I decided this would be good learning experience for the Viking Kiddos and also a good lesson on responsibilities.  As Freyja’s due date grew closer we decided to keep her in the Master Bathroom so she could give birth to her kittens in the bathroom and not under my bed. Yes, call me picky. One of these days my beloved Master Bathroom is going to be used as an actual bathroom and not a pet nursery, pet covalence room, or a pet isolation room.

What is the Old Norse word for “Twitcy?” Right before Freyja was due to deliver she escaped-again! She actually chewed through the screen window and escaped. That was the same week the projected weather was to reach 105 F. Yes, we were frantic. Yes, we looked every where. Yes, we put food out and lots of water. Yes, we prayed that she would be smart enough to find a safe and cool refuge. Yes, we drew the Viking Kiddos together and prepared them for the inevitable. Then to our surprise! Freyja sightings! We grew concern when we discovered she wasn’t pregnant any more. We looked every where for signs of the kittens. Last week found them!

Last Wednesday night as Viking Dad and I were preparing for bed we heard very loud mewing sounds. Freyja had come into the house finally without her kittens and didn’t seem concern about returning to them. Viking Dad rushed outside with a flashlight and located the two tiny two week old kittens. Of course the one location we didn’t look in we found them.  Now, as I reflect back on the sightings I  remembered that this was the same spot that Freyja would have some nasty cat fights with some of the feral cats and one of our cats. She was protecting her babies!

We brought the tiny kittens inside and placed them in a hamper with clean towels. I gently coaxed Freyja into the Master Bathroom to take care of her babies. She sniffed, looked at them and then hissed at them. She basically, scrambled over me to escape. I was crushed! Viking Dad dutifully at 11:30 pm went to the only store open, WalMart, to get kitten formula.

Sadly, that very next morning one of the kittens past away. I have to say at least she was warm and safe and not given to the elements. But, the second little one was still alive and very active.  The next day the Viking Kiddos stayed home sick with Viking Dad while I went to work. Viking Dad dutifully cleaned, fed and kept the little one warm through out the day.

We honestly thought this little one was going to make it. We even started to come up with names. Friends of Cats even offered to “baby sit” during the day while we were all at school and work. She had been eating, gaining weight, sleeping, peeing and pooping just like a healthy kittens should be doing. So, you can imagine this morning my horror, sadness and surprise when I discovered Little Fluff Ball aka Kissa had passed away.

Our family has experienced a lot of life and death on our farm. We have a growing grave yard under an oak tree of family pets that have died on the homestead. The Viking Kiddos are very accustomed to the cycle of life with the chickens and other life stock. They know that certain animals “drop their bodies” so they can feed us.

So, why did the death of this little tiny innocent creature hit us so hard? Why did it hit me so hard?
The kind lady at the Friend’s of Cats offered some comfort. We gave this little one a fighting a chance and she was safe and warm. But, sometimes Mother Nature and the Mommy Cats know things that we silly humans can’t comprehend.

This evening, the youngest of the Viking Kiddos and I curled up on the couch and together and I expressed the same bit of comfort I was given earlier in the day. We comforted ourselves that we did the best we could for the Little One and she is comfortable in heaven with her Sister and the other cats.

Sometimes, in life the paths and experiences we face defy immediate explanation. 

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