As if I didn’t have enough problems, the Siamese cat has moved her kittens out of the garage. She favors my shirt drawer but has settled, a little grumpily, for a carton box in the bathroom.
I must be careful brushing my teeth or I drip water on the kittens. It makes the Siamese nervous. Nervous as a cat in fact. One drop of water and she has to go over these kittens from head to tail.
Fortunately, I was out of town when these kittens arrived. Both the Siamese and I were in a state of nervous exhaustion waiting for them. I had pictures of myself delivering these kittens personally. Something like the kindly police sergeants who are always delivering babies in taxicabs at the height of the rush hour.
I wouldn’t know anything about delivering kittens if they were gift-wrapped for Christmas. All I could think of was stimulants.
I kept a bottle of brandy handy. With an eyedropper for the Siamese. A glass for me. I thought we might need it.
Well, it turned out the Siamese attended to the whole matter herself.
For five days she was constantly up and around. Straightening their pillows and checking to see that they did not have two heads.
On the sixth day, she brought them up one by one and tried to put them in the shirt drawer.
“You sit with them, “she said. “I’m worn out.”
However, she is just like any mother. She sticks around trying to tell me what to do.
“Keep them warm. Keep them dry. Don’t do that! You’ll smother them!”
Pretty soon she is back in the box. Roughing them up with her tongue and complaining that it’s impossible to get decent help these days.
These kittens did not turn out Siamese. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
One is black. One is sort of striped. One is gray.
The gray one looks exactly like a swaggering tomcat who lives down the street. I think he makes his money cheating at cards.
Anyway, he was around the house all the time while the romance season was on. Since the kittens arrived, we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him.
I think I saw him hanging around a wharf saloon the other night. But I couldn’t be sure. I think he was passing out cigars.
The Siamese takes this bravely though. She is willing for me to go to work and support the kittens. “You know how it is,” she says scuffing a paw in the dirt.
The kittens are world travelers already. The Siamese moves them constantly.
She moves them so often she sometimes forgets where she puts them. “Let me see,” she says, “I put down my piece of string. Then I went out to look for lizards. Or was that yesterday? Now where did I put them?”
Anyway, it is soon mealtime. It is dinner time almost all the time with these kittens. They have shrill voices. When they start to yell, she locates them. After they are fed, she moves them again.
I have chopped up cashmere sweaters for this addlepated female. I have lined Christmas boxes with an imported English coat. Only a little worn at the elbows.
Nothing seems right. You would think there was a law that all kittens must be raised in a shirt drawer. When I haul them out, she spits at me. You would think I had declared war against motherhood.
I have been cat sitting for eight weeks now, ever since she showed up with some vague talk of finding the kittens underneath a cabbage leaf.
An excellent mother. But she does not intend to sit with these kittens when there is a built-in kitten sitter like me around.
When evening rolls around, I put out enough cat food to feed a tiger. This cat sits around watching while the kittens eat until they wobble. Then she puts on a terrific act.
She howls and staggers about as though she had just come out of Starvationville. “I’m dying, “she screams. “Dying of hunger.”
I then shoo the kittens out the door and give this cat a big dish of horse meat. Does she eat it? Ha! She fills her mouth with hamburger and takes it out and stuffs more in the kittens.
Well, it is like pouring pabulum into a baby. She feeds them until they are glassy-eyed. Then she brings them back in the house and leaves them with me.
“Keep an eye on them, “she says. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
She does not return until dawn. It is my opinion this cat spends her evenings sitting on a bar stool. Telling everybody how her husband deserted her and what a good cook she is and how she would love to settle down again with the Right Man.
There is something funny going on.
Postcards From Delaplane: October 29, 1956. Stanton Delaplane (internal link)