In June I wrote about the stray cat who gave birth to a litter of three kittens in my ice house. A lot has happened since then.
The neighbor who offered to help get the mama cat spayed hasn't been heard from since. As the kittens approached weaning age, I worried that the mother could become pregnant again at any time—and worried more when a large male cat began hanging around the property. The three kittens were orange, dark calico, and black (with a little white). I posted their pictures on Facebook, and also emailed other friends in hopes of finding good homes for them.
A friend saw the pictures, and asked me to save the orange kitten for his mother. Another friend forwarded the pictures to a friend of hers, who fell in love with the calico. I delivered the calico (now named Sugar) to her new owner, and took the others to the vet to have their genders revealed. (Yes, I still haven't learned to do this reliably.) We were surprised to learn the orange kitten was a female. (Most are male.) The black was a male.
My friend's mother decided she didn't want a female, and asked for the male. By this time I thought I'd be keeping the black one myself because they are hardest to place (black dogs, too). But now I was left with the orange—the smallest and bravest of the litter. I brought her into the house, and took her mother—by now named Bones . . . or Bonz . . . or Bonzy by my son and daughter-in-law—to be spayed. We couldn't risk the baby nursing or grooming her mother while the latter recovered from her surgery, so they hung out separately in the house.
When Bonzy recovered, I put her back outside and kept her supplied with food and water. She was furious with me for taking away her kittens. She was such a good mother, and I sympathized completely. I couldn't consider making her a house cat because she had so thoroughly alienated Annie the Mean, my adult calico. The two of them managed to be at war through the glass of the living room windows. Because Bonzy is such a fierce hunter, I figured she'd have plenty to amuse her outdoors. We recently installed a dog house on the porch in anticipation of the coming cold weather. I made a fleece bed for her, and will use something like this to keep her warm at night.
Meanwhile, I named the kitten Peachy and kept her sequestered in my bedroom until I had the time and energy to begin introducing her to Annie and Pogo. I knew the longer she stayed hidden, where they could get used to her smell, the better the introductions would go. And they've gone very well. Annie tries to avoid her for the most part, and Pogo still shows some signs of being jealous. But he actually plays with her now. Major progress!
Peachy is a smart, affectionate kitten with a great purr. She is slowly getting resigned to the fact that I won't let her nurse from my earlobes. I'd forgotten how unbelievably agile and fast kittens are! She makes me laugh every day.