Once Upon a Kitten Part 1 – a Stray’s Story of Survival

Today, I’m taking a little break from the regular writing posts to share with you a true story which, in many ways, is still unfolding. If you’ve come across my Pinterest boards at all, you may have noticed one entitled Kats & Kids. This one divulges some of my love for goats and for our dear little friends, the stray cats. Up until about nine months ago, I had little concern for those particular creatures . . . and that was when three of them showed up on our doorstep.

It was a sultry day in either late June or early July when we saw her. A fluffy stray cat we had seen numerous times around the farm, but never so close. Now she lay just outside our back door, panting heavily, her large stomach heaving with each breath. We were worried. This was the first time we saw how clearly she was pregnant.

We named this frightened, aloof little animal Yarrow.

For days and even weeks at a time, we saw nothing of the stray. She came and she went, sometimes appearing with a mouse ensnared, other times crossing our neighbor’s field in the dusty fog of dawn.

It was August now. Yarrow’s stomach had noticeably decreased in its swollen size, but we knew not where she had placed her kittens or if any were alive. We again saw her coming across our back pasture with another mouse. While we quietly marveled at how many of those she seemed to find, we watched her. Yarrow, oblivious to the audience she had, took purposeful strides across the yard, across the driveway, to our newest greenhouse, which, at that time, was not in use.

We continued to watch like hawks from our living room window. As she went round the back corner of the greenhouse, we saw them. Two tiny kittens rushed out to greet her.

Needless to say, we were thrilled. And though it was expected she had at one time cared for more than just two, we were grateful these had survived. One was a petite, baby-faced calico we lovingly named Ali. The other, a rugged, shy little gray we floundered for a proper name for until my mother found the perfect one. Lentil.

As the weeks passed, days grew shorter, harvest came in from the gardens, our spirits were reliably lifted by the presence of the three homeless felines. We had begun feeding them back in August, which, we surmised, was why Yarrow, so alert and timid, kept her kittens so near to our home. In spite of her wild ways, she trusted us just enough.

That trust, however, was short lived. She began taking Lentil and Ali to our neighbor’s barn. More than once, we would lose track of them for days and be unable to feed them. These disappearances left us worried indeed.

But every time, they came back. And Ali became more and more accustomed to us, more and more trusting. There was one day Yarrow took Lentil, the far more reserved and wild of the two kittens, back to the neighbor’s barn, while Ali remained at the greenhouse the entire day, patiently waiting for her family’s return.

And then the cold weather hit. We were terrified. We knew we could trap the kittens and tame them, but Yarrow? Yarrow was wild. She could never adapt to a home.

And then they disappeared. And did not return.

For a week and a half, through the fiercest drop in temperatures we would endure for the rest of the winter, they were lost to us. We set out food both in the barn and greenhouse. We called them by name. We searched. We searched again. There were no voices to respond. No tracks. No one to nibble the food.

There was snow on the ground. The frigidity did not relent. We were devastated to think those dear little animals had been lost so cruelly.

December 19th . . .

 

 

The rest of their story will be told in Part 2, and also in the Little Red Barn Series, a children’s series my mother and I plan to co-write together in the next year or so, but that’s a post for another day!

And I’ll be back blogging on the Monday after Easter. Part 2 of this story will continue next week. In spite of the way it may look now, there is a happy ending. One that continues to inspire us to this day, and I hope you’re inspired as well! Don’t miss Part 2.

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Yarrow’s tracks in the snow.
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3 thoughts on “Once Upon a Kitten Part 1 – a Stray’s Story of Survival

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