Monday, July 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Cats!

Sixteen years ago today, our young tabby cat Ms. Polly Manytoes had her 5 babies on our kitchen floor. We had a nice comfy bed for her but of course she wouldn't stay in it. During her long 5-hour labour she insisted on lying on the cool floor. The advantage was it became easy to clean up the mess later! All except one kitten had some combination of mom's extra toes and suspected-dad's crooked tail — double mutants. Three were black and white "tuxedos", one was orange and white splotches, and the last (or should I say first because she was "Numero Uno") was tabby like mom. They were really cute and since our family had only ever had boy cats before, we were entranced with the births.

Lest you think we're irresponsible pet owners, I have to back up to explain how we came to own a pregnant cat. Our last beloved cat had recently died of feline lukemia and we were catless for the first time ever. Thom's mom had been feeding a young stray cat in her neighbourhood and felt that we could give her a good home. She had 6 toes plus dewclaw on each front foot giving her an endearing big-footed splayed-out way of walking. We couldn't resist. She was only around 9 months old so when our vet checked her out he suggested we bring her back in a few weeks to be spayed. He completely missed the fact that she was already "knocked up" but we noticed her gaining weight in the mid-section as time went on. The vet confirmed our suspicions and said we could either let her have her family or have an abortion so we opted for the pro-life choice. She was only about 3 days pregnant at the first vet visit so it's no wonder we all missed her condition.

When they were old enough we found homes for three of the kittens. Celeste kept second-born Dhoughal, the orange and white, and she still has him today. He has 5 toes on each foot and a very short kinky tail. Dhougie is very sweet but not too bright. She still hasn't trained him out of his insisting on walking all over her at night begging for pats while she's asleep! He even brought her a dead rat into her bed once. Ick.

We kept mama Polly of course and her last-born, Julius, who was named after Groucho Marx's real name on account of her moustache and her attitude. Julie is a tuxedo and has the most toes of all the cats, six on each foot. Regular cats look like their feet are too small now that we've gotten used to polydactyl cats. They are good about being brushed regularly (love it actually) and I only need to clip Polly's front claws because they don't wear properly. For some reason, Julie's never need clipping maybe because they're more like big platters rather than Polly's "2 thumbs up." Apart from being somewhat overweight, they're pretty healthy for old lady cats. Needless to say Julie got spayed as soon as she was old enough. We have enough cats now to keep me warm on a cold evening.

Julie and mama Polly
Since we have no idea when Polly's birthday is, we celebrate all three cats' birthdays on the same day. They're fat and lazy and sweet and gentle. (Well, Julie is actually more weird than sweet!) The girls only go out for a short time during the day. They (mostly) come in when they're supposed to and they (almost) voluntarily go downstairs to the basement to their comfy fleece beds, food dish, and litter box at night. They also (mostly) leave my yarns and fibres alone — though Julie has an irresistable thing for unattended tissue paper dress patterns. Happy Birthday, my little Fuzz-Butts! And many more...

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