But we were all a little concerned about Phoebes. You remember Phoebe, our newly--well, in December--acquired pet? Well, we were correct when we surmised she had matured when she was acting crazy here a few weeks back. Karen had spotted her in the barn while we were AI-ing heifers, hanging out with a certain surly Tom-cat. We tried to shoe her away, but no, the fuzzy, long-haired, bad-boy-of-the-barn had charmed his way into Phoebe's heart (or something like that).
Anyway, we all knew that Phoebe was getting close to her delivery date, and we hmmmed and hawed about what we should do with her while we were gone. No one really JUMPED at the chance to host the traveling OB ward in our absence, and we even considered boarding her in town with the local vet, "just-in-case". But we decided (mostly we forgot to call) to keep her home and Ryan (our right-hand man) and Zane (our left-hand man) said they'd check on her, and Mary said she would too, if she happened to be by on her way to town.
On Monday afternoon, I found the perfect box with high sides and a cut-out front and put a rug in it so she had a little nest, just in case she couldn't wait until we got home. We figured we'd give her plenty of food and water, a clean litter-box and keep her in the downstairs bathroom.
Tuesday morning as Scott and I were loading the Suburban with our plunder, Adam came upstairs, excited. Phoebe had spent the night on his extra comforter at the foot of his bed and he was sitting with her, just petting her, when all of a sudden, he saw a little foot come out. It kind of freaked him out, but he realized what was going on, and hurried upstairs to share the news. Scott and I both just laughed, but we secretly wondered how long this whole process was going to take, because we really didn't want to get way-laid from our schedule. We were leaving for vacation after-all.
Finally we got all of our things loaded, went on garbage and light patrol, started the dishwasher, and then Scott went to check on the progress. He moved her from the bedroom to the box in the bathroom and after inspecting, he decided that three kittens were all that would be born. We figured all would be well with Ryan checking in on them, and we were off. We made the obligatory calls, to Karen, and Mary, reporting about the new arrivals. Mary was surprised there were only three kittens as big around as Phoebe was: "They must be awfully big babies!"
Fast forward four days.
We arrived home with the new kittens the topic of conversation for a good bit of the last 40 miles home. As soon as the Suburban stopped, all four kids piled out and sailed downstairs to see how everyone was doing. Scott and I filled up our arms and hands with as much plunder as we could and stumbled through the door. As I was taking an armload of stuff into the bedroom I heard excited voices coming up the stairs. "No way!" "You've got to see this!" and from Alli :"I just can't believe it!" "Mom," Ben shouted. "There are six kittens!" We joined the kids down stairs, and sure enough, there they were, six brand new babies. I just laughed and said to Scott, "Apparently cow placenta and cat placenta look quite a bit different, huh?"
Phoebe is doing a great job of mothering; she just sits there and purrs while her babies claw and clutch and root around her. And the best part is she has a great helper in her brother Fluffer-nutter. Uncle Fluff, as we like to call him, likes to sit in the box with the babies, while Phoebe takes a little "alone time" outside. He snuggles right up to them and kitten-sits. Isn't that funny? And I don't think he charges much either. It will be a bit of a struggle to keep the hands of the youngest two kids off of them until they get a little bigger, I'm afraid. They both are quite fascinated with the new additions to the family.
If you hear of anyone looking for a new kitty, we'd be happy to oblige in a few weeks. By the way Mary, one frequent visitor to this site suggested that maybe you would be the first to volunteer. She said there was some unwritten rule about the giver of the original cat was promised the first born kitten? She's quite a cat expert, so I'm sure she probably knows all about that right-of-possession business when it comes to cats. I think there's even a Biblical law about that whole sowing and reaping thing that might apply here....
P.S. A special thanks to Aunt Vonnie and Cousin Katie for bringing out some "Fancy Feast" in a can for the nursing mother, and changing bedding for the new mama and baby. You're quite a hand in the maternity ward, there Vonnie!