I work from home. My office is a sunroom, which looks out onto the street. One day last September, a flash of motion in a neighbor’s yard caught my eye. It was a young kitten. I saw her frolicking for a few minutes but thought nothing of it.
A few days later, looking out the kitchen door, I saw the same kitten running in my backyard. I got a better look at her this time and noticed that she was ridiculously cute – a calico with a perfectly round face and eyes.
I went outside to see what would happen, and, naturally, she took off like a comet.
I put out some food for her, hoping she’d return.
A few hours later, there was a cat hungrily devouring what I’d left – a different cat, though, older, not nearly as cute, a regular gray/brown tabby.
Thus, a pattern emerged. My wife and I would put out food for the two cats, and they’d show up a few times a day. One day, we noticed that the older cat had a damaged paw that went out at a very unnatural angle. We assumed that at some point it had been broken and healed on its own.
The baby cat remained skittish, but after a few weeks, the older cat stopped running away when I would come out on the porch. Eventually, I got close enough to pet her. This was October, the height of the presidential-election season. My wife and I joked about her being our little moocher, and she suggested we call her 47, in honor of Mitt Romney and his infamous speech. I thought it was funny. The name stuck.
After establishing trust, I made a few unsuccessful attempts (there was blood involved – mine) to pick her up and put her in the carrier so that we could get her to the vet. Fortunately, she never stayed mad at me long and would always return.
We borrowed a Havahart trap from a neighbor and put a small bowl of tuna in the back of it, hoping to attract either the kitten or the adult cat we now assumed to be her mother. For the first few days, the kitten was curious but wouldn’t go inside the trap. The mother cat? She was onto us and wouldn’t go near the thing.
Two days before Christmas, as dusk began to fall, I went outside to put the trap in the garage for the night, not wanting to ensnare a raccoon instead. There, much to my delight and surprise, was the kitten inside the trap. She, on the other hand, was anything but happy.
We rushed her to the local animal shelter, and after a good deal of begging and a small donation, they accepted the kitten, who was adopted within a few weeks. We would have kept her ourselves, but she struck us as being a very active kitten, and we already are the proud parents of an extremely athletic and constantly active 3-year-old cat.
Winter came. We felt awful that we couldn’t get 47 in the house. We even threw open the back door on the coldest of winter days in hopes she would come in. She wouldn’t budge. We set up a box on the porch filled with bath towels so at least she would stay warm and safe.
In January she became pregnant. We were determined to catch her before she gave birth. We kept the trap on our porch. We tried tuna, cat snacks, catnip. We even tried aiming a laser pointer inside the thing. She was always wary of it. But one day in February, we heard the trap close. Finally, we had caught her. My wife, son, and I were all thrilled. I went out to the back porch to procure the cage…and it was empty.
Somehow, in the minute it took me to put on shoes, she had burst out of captivity.
I have no idea how she did it, but, again, she harbored no animosity toward us and returned the next day.
One day in early April she disappeared, and when she returned a few days later she was much thinner. We had no idea where she had stashed her kittens, but twice a day she would return to our porch to eat.
We followed her one morning in May and saw that she crossed a busy street and ducked under a fenced-in yard filled with debris, which I guess made her feel safe. We didn’t want to get too close for fear of scaring her and her kittens away.
Two weeks later, there she was at our dining-room window, ready for breakfast. But this time she brought three little friends.
We opened up the back door, and, amazingly, 47 came in, as did her little ones. Unfortunately, it took about a week for all of them to be standing in our kitchen simultaneously, but when they did, our son quietly and quickly went onto the back porch and closed the door behind them.
We were now the proud owners of a surprisingly laid-back 47 and three terrified kittens, hiding under couches and behind the refrigerator. It took us a few hours to round them all up and place them in a spare bedroom, where they would be safe.
Is there anything cuter than a Mama cat and her kittens all nestled in a ball of sleepy contentment?
It took us a few months, but we were able to find good homes for all three kittens – two to friends and the last one through Facebook. All the new owners supply us with updates and all the kittens are happy and well.
And 47? I don’t think she’s ever been happier, except when Red, our 3-year-old cat, gets a little too close to her. They have their moments of hissing and tussling, but for the most part, they get along. The vet couldn’t do anything for her leg, but she gets around amazingly well nonetheless.
She’s a quiet, sincere cat, but with each passing day she becomes more a part of our family.
Mitt Romney was good for something after all.