Kittens, Kittens, Everywhere Kittens
Every year about this time the kittens that were born in the spring are old enough to test their independence, learning how to fend for themselves. In fact, around June the mother cats bring their kittens closer to the cat food pans that I fill twice a day. By July or August the kittens wander all around Pipi’s Pasture and can find food by themselves.
I refer to these cats as “barn cats,” and they’re usually not tame enough to touch but yet not real wild, either. I never know for sure just how many kittens are born each spring because the mother cats hide them in a variety of safe locations around Pipi’s Pasture. Kittens may be hidden in the stock trailers; behind stored stuff in the carport (sometimes even down in a pile of tires); and under sheds, the flatbed trailer, or my cottage office; or even in the hot box (used to warm newborn calves in the spring) that is located at one end of the shed at the corral.
One of a mama cat’s favorite places to hide her kittens is the haystack, especially a stack of small bales, because there are spaces, even tunnels, where the bales don’t fit tight together. This space provides a cozy, warm, out-of-weather place for the mama cat to care for her kittens and keep them safe from predators. In past years we’ve had to feed hay from the stacks, and eventually we worked our way back to the kittens. There was no choice but to move them.
I can remember one year when I had to move a sort-of-tame mama cat and her babies so we could retrieve the bales. I somehow got the mama and her babies into a tall bucket and managed to keep the mama from jumping out as I carried them to the backyard where I put them under a shed.
As I recall, she left the kittens there, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the mama moves them right back to where they were in the first place.
Right now there are lots of kittens of a variety of colors — orange; gray; black and white; and those that are a mixture of brownish-orange, gray, and black — wandering around Pipi’s Pasture. Yesterday I secretly enjoyed watching as some of the kittens came to the porch to eat cat food. Some of them stood in the long feed pan as they chowed down on the food. Crunch, crunch!
I also watched an orange kitten as it played in the crab apple tree right outside the dining room window. It climbed up the tree trunk and walked to the end of a branch, possibly hoping to jump to the roof of the stoker shed as many of the older cats do. However, he possibly thought better of the plan, and he climbed onto another branch and then another. He didn’t seem to be stuck because later he climbed back down the tree trunk. I had not seen a kitten play in a tree like that before.
The mother cats rest in the shade of the trees and watch their kittens. Sometimes they still let them nurse, but the cats seem satisfied that their youngsters are growing up.
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