It was a warm summer morning in late May of 96. The summer air set over the house like a warm blanket. I had just awakened from a long nights rest, school had just ended and I was grateful that I could sleep in late every day. I slowly got out of bed, got dressed, and went down the hall toward the kitchen where I found my mom making breakfast.
As I walked into the kitchen, my mom suddenly remembered that she saw another stray cat in our yard early that morning. There had been many stray cats living in our neighborhood but my mom said that the one she saw was special because it was a mother and her two kittens. I began to wonder if they had a home or if they were strays. It would be very hard for a stray to feed her kittens and also be able to find enough food for herself at the same time. I hoped that they were getting enough food.
Later that week, I was sitting in the living room watching TV, when suddenly I saw an adult cat with two kittens, crawl under our backyard fence. I assumed that the cats that were in our backyard were the ones that my mom was talking about, since it is not often that you see a mother and her kittens roaming around a neighborhood without a home.
They were the most beautiful cats that I had ever seen. All of them were black and white, each one almost identical to the other; there were very few visible differences. Even though I did not know if they had an owner, I decided to name them. I named the mother Misty, even though we often called her Mamma Kitty. I named the little female kitten Jewel and the male kitten Patch because he was the only cat with patches of black on his front legs. The kittens looked to be about 1 month old, but never strayed far from their mother, especially Jewel. Mamma Kitty was very friendly and did not run away when I came near, like most strays probably would but Patch and Jewel were much more skittish and would hide whenever I came near. I suspected that someone once owned Mamma Kitty and a male cat. So when they found out that they had mated, the owner abounded her because he would not be able to feed all of them. I never did find out what Mamma Kitty’s life was like before she came to us.
Patch and Jewel gradually began to get used to me and all three of them became a more frequent sight around our house. I became very attached to the cats and I really hoped that they had no home so we could adopt them. I learned to distinguish each cat from the other by their markings and their unique personalities. My mom said that she would keep a look out for any lost cat signs and if none turned up within two weeks, then we could keep them.
Two weeks finally had passed and the cats were now ours. We bought them collars, each a different color so we could tell who was who. I would feed them outside because they were not aloud in the house. My dad was not sure if it was a good idea to keep them inside, we already had a bird, a rabbit, and two guinea pigs, adding three cats would be a handful. So for many weeks I took care of them outside. We still took them to the vet so they could get their shots and could be fixed, to prevent the two females from having kittens.
It was not until after Mamma Kitty was fixed, that we were allowed to keep the cats in the house, but only at night. I would let them out in the morning and at night I would call them to the house. They usually came willingly because they were hungry and ready to eat.
It had been a wonderful summer. Mamma Kitty would often come home with a bird to show us, as if it were a present. Patch and Jewel, now full grown, would play in the field next to our house, hiding behind bushes and pouncing on one another. They loved to eat grasshoppers and would often become frustrated when they could not catch them. The kittens were excellent tree climbers but getting down was a whole new adventure. Patch and Jewel would try to catch birds, but they were never very good at it.
When school started, they were still aloud to go outside and when I came home from school Mamma Kitty was always in the yard ready to greet me. Patch and Jewel would follow Mamma Kitty to the house when I came home, so they could have a bite to eat and then they would go out again until nightfall.
Mamma Kitty returned to the house like clockwork, but then one day I did not see her in the yard. I called for her many times but she never came. I thought that maybe she was just out roaming the neighborhood, so I did not worry about it, thinking that she would return when she was ready. It soon became dark and the air began to turn cold. It had been November of 96 and the nights were usually very chilly, but still no sign of Mamma. I began to become very worried, thinking that maybe she was attacked by a fox, since they were often seen around our house. Maybe she was attacked by another cat and was too injured to come home. She was a very hardy cat and I could not imagine that she would become hurt easily. I wondered if maybe her previous owner took her back or someone stole her. I feared for the worst, I had already lost another stray cat many years ago named Smokie and I did not want history to repeat itself.
My mom put up signs, hoping that maybe someone would find her and bring her home. Every day I would come home from school and call for her. I would look in all her favorite hiding places, but there was still no sign of her.
Then one day in late November about 7 PM, I was sitting on the couch in front of the patio doors doing my homework. It was almost dinner time and it was a very cold night. I sat there, quietly, when out of the corner of my eye I saw the light over the patio go on. I thought maybe it was a raccoon, since they were a regular sight around our house. I glanced up at the door and there on the patio, standing in the shimmering light, was a black and white cat, it was Mamma Kitty! It had been 10 days since I had seen her and it was a miracle that she had survived the cold November nights alone. It was as if God dropped her on our doorstep, it was the most miraculous thing that I had ever seen.
I was overjoyed to see her again. I opened the patio door and she bounded in, I knew that she was glad to see us too. She headed straight for the food bowl and began to eat. She had lost a lot of weight and probably if she had been gone for a few more days, then she would have died of starvation. It was truly a miracle.
I still could not figure out why she was gone for 10 days but then I found out that something had dug under the storage building in the lot next door. The person who owned the lot, kept lots of junk in his sheds and he often went into them to get things out. I guessed that Mamma Kitty wandered into the shed and became trapped when he closed the door. She then would have had to dig her way out. When Mamma Kitty returned home, her front claws were worn down so I had a feeling that she had been trapped in the shed.
Since then I have made a point of keeping all of the cats always in the house so that they would never disappear again. Mamma Kitty did not always like being cooped up in the house all day, even though I would take her out on a leash periodically, but I feel it is for the best.
I learned a very important lesson from that experience. I learned not to give up hope or loose faith in anything no matter what it is. Our cats were dropped on our doorstep and they chose us to care for them. They would never abandon us and I should never stop believing that we are their chosen people, no matter what. They were little gifts from heaven and I will always remember them even after death. It was not the first and it will not be the last, that an animal will chose our family for a friend.