Living overseas afforded me many opportunities to explain who I was and why I was there. Most people were friendly enough, but we did run across a few who were quite suspicious of us. They didn’t understand why we would choose to leave the USA and our families and live in a poor, Muslim country. We couldn’t explain all of our reasons why. If we had been completely forthcoming in our explanations we would have probably been asked to leave the country. We weren’t doing anything wrong, but we learned over the years to tell only part of our story. We called it being economical with the truth. That skill served me well over the years.
There are several stray cats that roam my apartment complex. I, along with several other apartments, put out food on occasion to feed them. Recently there was a pregnant mama cat who was a regular visitor. When she disappeared for a few days I wondered if she was having her babies. When a skinny mama cat showed up looking for a meal I knew there were babies somewhere nearby. My youngest child was obsessed with finding the newborn kittens. She looked around finally determining that the only place they could be hidden was behind a mattress on the porch of the apartment next door. After several days tiny mews could be heard from that porch. She was right. The sweet Asian man who lived there let us go peek behind the mattress to see the kittens. There were 5 of them, and they were so tiny. She was thrilled that there would be kittens to play with soon.
Two weeks after the kittens were born we looked on the porch and noticed the mattress was gone and so were the kittens. Since the sweet Asian man doesn’t speak any English I couldn’t ask him about it. My child looked for those kittens and couldn’t find them anywhere. She wished the mama cat had moved them to my porch. I let her put a box with a towel in it on the porch knowing that the mama cat had just moved them so she probably wouldn’t be moving them again. Several days went by and no kittens. I rarely saw the mama cat. One Wednesday evening we got home late and mama cat ran out to meet us. She was hungry. My child fed her and peaked behind the box on the corner of my porch. She squealed in delight when she discovered that the kittens had been moved to our porch.
The next morning she ran out to see the kittens. We left for school, but as soon as we got home that afternoon we looked at kittens. Later that evening I realized that I hadn’t seen mama cat since the night before. I figured she must have fed them and be off roaming the complex. I woke up several times in the middle of the night to check if she had come back. No mama. The next morning the kittens were crying. I was pretty sure they were hungry, and I hoped mama cat would come back while I was away. That afternoon there was a steady vigil at the window as we waited for the mama cat. That night I got up 3 times to check for mama. I was starting to worry. We had been careful not to bother the kittens, and the mama cat had always been so friendly. She let us pick her up and loved for us to pet her. I couldn’t imagine that we had spooked her.
By Saturday morning I knew I had to do something. It had been 60 hours since we had last seen the mama cat. The kittens were mostly sleeping with only a little bit of crying now and then. My daughter begged me to keep them and feed them myself. She cried and thought I was being a terrible person because I wanted to get rid of them. I explained that I was trying to do what was best for the kittens. I finally had to take her to her dad’s so I could take care of them. I called several pet rescue places only to be told that they didn’t have room. Most places I called only had automated messages explaining their services. I talked to one lady who acted like I was a terrible person, because I wasn’t willing to foster them myself. I explained that I taught school and was gone for 10 hours or so a day. I didn’t have time to bottle feed five 3 weeks old kittens. I called the SPCA and discovered that they only took animals by appointment. Their next appointment was the following Friday. I wanted to cry. Nobody was willing to help me. I knew that if I didn’t take them somewhere I would eventually come home to dead kittens on my porch. Letting them starve to death was something I couldn’t do. I finally decided to pack them up and drive to as many shelters and rescue centers as necessary until someone took them.
I pulled into a shelter about 30 minutes from my house. I walked in to the admissions waiting room and saw dogs and cats and owners. My box of kittens mewed loudly at being disturbed with the noise. When it was finally my turn the admissions lady took one look at my kittens and said that they would take them, but they weren’t of adoptable age. I knew what she was telling me. They were going to be euthanized. I just nodded as tears fell down my cheeks. I knew it was the best thing, but I hated that I had to do it. I hated that I had allowed a box to be put on my porch. I hated that the mama cat had brought us kittens and then disappeared. I hated that I knew I couldn’t tell my daughter the whole truth when she asked me about it later. I told her that the shelter would make sure they were taken care of. I told her that we couldn’t visit them, because it was too far away. I told her that one day we would get a cat, but no that they couldn’t save us one of those kittens because they had so many animals coming through that they needed to get rid of the old ones as soon as they could in order to make room for the new ones. I tried to just be economical with the truth, but it sure felt like lying.
It’s been a week since I made the trip to the shelter. Mama cat still hasn’t ever come back. I’m sure something happened to her to keep her away. As much as I hate that part of me is glad she is gone. I would have felt horrible if she had shown up on my porch looking for her babies.