Last year, I woke up to kittens in my underpants (see Korçë) and last Thursday I woke up to kittens again. It’s becoming a trend, but using pseudo-mentat processes, I’ve analyzed the course that brought me back here. Eventually I’m hoping this will be an amusing 8-10 min monologue (Thanks, Speakeasy DC!)
Over 6-8 weeks the kittens grew, quickly inflating before my eyes, an amazing process of growth, development, exploration and poop. I was equal parts exasperated and enamored. I found my fondness for the kittens also began including the mother, who at first I was wary of, but slowly we developed an understanding of the shared space and our respective roles in it. You keep your kids in line. I keep you all fed. Eventually the time came for the kittens to make their own way in life and start their own families with new adopted volunteers, and for mama-cat and I, an end to our temporary arrangement. I wanted my life back.
On a wet and storming day, I handed off the last of the litter (Hal), promptly shut my windows and locked the doors, and said goodbye to the cat. I was heading to Berat for the weekend and she was no longer my responsibility.
So, I thought.
In some addled state of optimism I had thought, that with the kittens gone and her maternal urges assuaged, cat would slip back into the dumpster ether and revert back to her alley cat ways, but instead I walked into my house to find she had slipped inside somehow and was meowing a frenzy. “What devil trickery is this?!”
I tried all manner of things to get rid of her. I put her food outside and slowly reduced the quantity to none, hoping she would get the hint. Instead I got rat carcasses. Well, if not the carrot, then the stick. I chased after her brandishing a broom; I threw buckets of water . . . and nothing worked! I had once thought about how much I would like to have a dog after Peace Corps. I didn’t want a dog anymore… or a cat, or children, or plants, or even a significant other!
In the end she broke me. I stopped fighting her, and had to accept unwillingly that, at least for the moment, this cat was here to stay. Still I refused to adopt her. She was not a pet, more an unwanted roommate. To name her would have implied ownership and affection, of which I wanted neither, so I referred to her as “Cat” (but never MY Cat).
The relationship went on, but I found I was talking more and more about Cat. She leaves hair everywhere. She’s a messy eater. She meows at awful hours. She left a dead rat on my rug again last night. I was becoming an anti-cat person. A cat person talks about how much they love their cat. Me? I talked incessantly about how much I hated mine.
Then one cold night in winter, I was reading, and Cat came in from the cold and hopped up into my lap, and at night she started sleeping on the bed, and on one grey morning we woke up spooning, until finally she just got under the blankets, inside the sleeping bag, propped herself against me and went to sleep. And I couldn’t hate her.
It was amazing that the one thing I fought so hard against having in my life and didn’t want, was ultimately the one thing that came along at the right time and was exactly what I needed.
Overtime her belly started to swell and I had missed my window to have her spayed (the veterinary system in Albania is challenging/limited) and last Thursday morning, April 11, she came up to me and started meowing a frenzy and I exclaimed, “Cat, I thought we were passed that?!” when I realized “Oh, shit! It’s time!” I prepped a bed for her in a large washing tub, and she immediately went into labor. Within 5 min I saw the first kitten breech, and an hour later, like the year previous, I went to Korçë to drink (Ask me about Pattie’s Albanian/American wedding), but I couldn’t wait to get home and see my baby.