The Cat family

I can’t stop looking at the kittens. They are amazing. They’re still blind, and are barely the size of my hand. They don’t do much but eat and sleep and yet I could stare at them all day. Our house has gone kitten crazy. We look at the kittens in the morning. We look at the kittens after school. We look at the kittens after a snack, before homework, after homework, during homework, before bed etc. etc. etc. Looking after little kittens that you saw being born, keeping them in a cardboard box, helping little girls pat them and care for them… it seems like such a stereotypical, wholesome, ‘country’ experience. Its the sort of thing I would come up with in my rosy day-dreams of what it might be like to live on a little farm somewhere near Berry and have 4 kids (yes, yes, there’s more to a farm than feeding chickens and collecting eggs and making jams and preserves, and milking cows and making my own bread and cheeses and looking after kittens and having ruddy-faced kids that ride horses and wear gumboots and go on adventures together through the open fields and I’m sure I’d get sick of it all in the end, and its all harder than it looks anyway, but still… its always been a secret fantasy, ever since I was a little one myself).  I feel very lucky to have seen it all and been a part of it. That might seem over the top, but the whole event has been mind-boggling for me and I’m not entirely sure why.
The eldest girl is coming up with names – a very slow and considered process. A cat’s name is not something to be stumbled upon or come up with lightly (especially if you listen to T. S. Eliot). We have two names locked in – Liebchen (which I thought a fantastic name for a little kitten – she got it from the movie of ‘The Witches’, I think the grandmother calls the main kid that a lot) and Tommy (again, I thought this was a very cute name for a kitten. She decided on it because of ‘Tom and Jerry’). Other names we are currently tossing around are Garfield (for obvious reasons), Jackie/Jack and Jerry (This is the only name I don’t approve of. I feel it misses the point of the original cartoon. But, that may be thinking too hard about things…). The little one spent all morning crying pathetically to hold one of the kittens, but her elder sister wouldn’t let her, due to the fact that the little one might suddenly decide she didn’t like them and drop them from tall heights on to hard floors. But, the little one was so desperate to hold one, that I said I would help her as soon as the elder girl was at school. We went in to find the kittens having their brekkie, and every time we put our hands anywhere near the box, the mother cat would stretch her paw right out over them. Such an instinctive, protective and motherly gesture (she did spend 5 minutes sitting on one of them, though, until I scooped it out from under her backside, so just because she’s got good instincts doesn’t mean she’s a perfect mother).


Anyway, I finally managed to pick one of the babies up and held it out for the little one to cradle, but as soon as it was actually being offered to her, she wouldn’t have a bar of it. She kept shaking her head, and putting her hands on her sides, and backing away. I’m not sure if it was because they looked strange (though she had seen them before), or because she was worried she might drop them (everyone kept telling her she would) or what, but she refused to hold them. She was still very happy to pat their fur, and chatter away to them, but after a full hour of crying about wanting to hold them, she just refused point blank to take them. 
My eldest charge is very distressed whenever she finds the cat away from the kittens, you know, when the poor cat needs to go to the toilet, or get herself some food. She picks the poor thing up and takes it straight back, chastising her loudly for leaving her babies behind, and that they need her and to stop being so lazy. Its rather amusing. I feel more than a little sorry for the cat. I feel like I can relate to her on some level and her desire for a bit of time to herself…. projecting, much?
I don’t know what we’re all going to do when the cats are sold or given away, which they will have to be, because no home could possibly look after 8 full-grown cats, especially when one of the people in that house is allergic to cats. It would be madness. But, oh, how I don’t want them to go away… 

Liebchen… ok, I’m lying. I can’t actually tell them apart.

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