We have been overrun by cats. I sit typing away and three kittens swing past, climbing the curtains, jumping off the clothes horse and generally creating mayhem. They see the clothes horse in particular as some kind of fun park.
It has been interesting watching the whole cat-rearing process close up. Our cat has been a devoted mum from the start. I’ve never seen her so happy, purring away as they feed and checking the kittens are okay. She’s moved from being a somewhat timid loner to being head of her own posse.
As the kittens have got a bit bigger, though, we occasionally find her sitting serenely among the chaos of her offspring skittering around, looking slightly spaced out. She has also taken herself away every now and then to get a bit of a rest. I can totally identify.
She got out an upstairs window one night in a bid for freedom, but unlike in the old days was back within an hour and rushed downstairs to check on the team.
Now the kittens are bigger and weaned, she has been to the vet’s for a check-up and to be spayed. That means she is now residing in daughter one’s room to recover. Daughter one is the cat’s biggest fan, but has found her waking hours [after midnight] difficult to adapt to. Sleep is her biggest hobby.
It takes, as they say, a village to raise a child and the same is true of kittens. The whole family has kicked in feeding, cleaning up and generally looking after the kittens. Only son is besotted with them, although the same cannot quite be said vice versa and the cat keeps him under surveillance at all times. He is fast learning kitten care, though. Even my partner, who supposedly hates cats, has become quite paternal towards them.
The cat is stepping up to motherhood, perhaps too much. When she was feeding the kittens, she was starving and thirsty, but when they started to eat her food she would step back and let them have it, taking herself off to lie down patiently, even though she was famished. We were getting worried about her health so we moved her bowl into the other room.
The kittens began by sleeping in a huge fur lump together, barely distinguishable from each other. Now they all have their own chair around the table I use as my desk. Each is a king of its own chair domain. One day soon they may join forces and take the whole kingdom of Living Room.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.