One night last week I was out late on the back porch pushing my special needs daughter up and down the porch in her wheelchair. My husband was out there, too, and we were talking. The porch is a rickety, second-story affair, so it creaks as I walk. The wheelchair rattles. If our neighbors here lived as close to us as our neighbors in Payson or Provo did, somebody would probably complain that we make too much noise late at night. Here, everyone sleeps comfortably distant from each other. I can walk out on the back porch anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a contrary child and not fear that I’m causing a disturbance.
So there I was, walking, talking. Then I heard below the plaintive mewling of kittens. Looking over the railing, I saw them creep around the corner of the house, following my voice, my creak, my rattle–one dark one and one dark and white one, at least. We dispatched the kids to fetch the kittens. They brought in two younguns, a grey tabby, very compact of body, and a larger grey and white kitten with very big ears. They were lost–quite possibly abandoned–they were cold, and, in our stretch of the woods, they were imperiled–walking popcorn chicken for hungry owls and coyotes. We brought them inside.
They’re about eight weeks old and very energetic. They litter-trained right away. Of course, they exude cuteness and are, in my opinion, above-average innocent. They’ve been in the house for several days now, and besides pulling pranks like chewing the blossom stem off my daughter’s beloved carnivorous sundew plant, walking on computer keyboards and wreaking other mild, housebound-mammal havoc, they seem like nice cats. We enjoy them.
The problem is, we already have four adult cats, which is about as much as I think this house and yard can handle. That led me to wonder if anybody out there in bloggerland might like to adopt a couple of kittens. I hope that anyone interested in taking one cat might take the other as well, because they’re sisters and they love each other. I understand that taking on two cats is rather more than most people care to do. But after watching the social behavior of the horse herd behind our house, seeing how the wild turkeys watch out for each other, spying from a cliff on a herd of romping mule deer in the canyon below, and observing the dynamics in play between our four grown-up cats, I have come to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the casual human practice of splitting up animal families.
Of course, the young of many kinds of animals disperse on their own. For instance, around this time of year, young coyotes leave the home den looking for their own territories. The coyote population of an area is density dependent; that is, if an area already supports as many coyotes as it can, the half-grown pups drift like seeds on the wind, looking for advatageous ground in need of more coyotes.
But these animals we’ve taken under our tutelage, stirring the pot of their genetic stories, employing in our service as workers and companions–they’re a different story. Cats, dogs, horses, cows–all the so-called domesticated species–it’s probably time we reconsider how we affect their lives and communities.
So … kittens, anyone?