A year after Miss Thing passed away, we decided we might be ready to let another cat into our hearts. We'd planned to pick one up from the shelter, when we spotted the ad in the Missoulian, “Two Mousers for Free.”
So we drove out to a ranch in the Potomac, and brought home two cats. Females. Half-wild, they'd lived most of their lives in a barn. We named them Harriet and Maureen – Harry and Mo.
We hadn't had them a day, and Harry disappeared never to be seen again. We lived at the foot of Mount Jumbo, and I prefer to believe that she’d decided to live out the rest of her life free. She obviously didn't like the idea of living in a house, and there were probably some juicy, fat mice running around up there.
But Mo liked us. She loved us, in fact. She especially loved sleeping on us…on our laps, on Tom's shoulders, or tangled up in my hair.
It wasn’t long before we realized Mo was pregnant. We suspected that she came to us this way. And we might have taken her back, but we already loved her too much to let her go. So we took her to the Vet’s for a prenatal check-up. Turned out she was very pregnant, only a couple of weeks from delivering.
I cleared out one of the drawers in our highboy, and lined it with cedar shavings, newspaper, and wide strips of flannel, torn from an old sheet. I slid it more than halfway under my side of the bed, so that just a few inches would poke out. I figured it’d be dark and private in there, but easy for her to climb into. And it sure seemed like she approved, because I found her sleeping in there the evening before she delivered.
That night Tom and I were sleeping, cuddled up in our comfy new queen-sized Serta, and Mo was cuddled up, too, on my pillow, her body nestled in my hair…
In the wee hours of the morning, I woke to the sound of her crying. Meowing. But when I heard her purring in my ear, I let myself drift back to sleep. I figured I must've been dreaming. But then she cried out again.
Half asleep, I reached up to pet her. It's okay, sweetheart. Wassa matter? Mommy's here.
But my hand didn't pet Mo. It touched something not-Mo. And it was then that I realized that my hair was wet, and there was something besides Mo sitting it. Something soggy. Something lumpy. And what the hell's that smell?
I jumped outta bed, screaming bloody murder, with this wet thing in my hand, ready to throw it across the room. Tom woke with my scream, and turned on the light.
My hair, my face, and my pillow were dripping with goo, poo, and amniotic fluid. And the soggy thing in my hand? A newborn kitten.
While Tom stayed in bed laughing, I moved mom and first-born kitty to the dresser drawer, and she delivered kitten number two.
I stayed with Mo, crooning and cooing while she delivered two more. And still chuckling, Tom removed the soiled sheets, and tossed my pillow in the trash can, outside.
Once we were certain Mo was no longer in labor, Tom took over with the reassuring noises. And until we ran out of hot water, I stood in the shower, shampooing sticky poo out of my hair.