Cold comfort

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are but here in Boston it is really cold. There is nothing unusual about cold weather in January, in Massachusetts, but it is unusual to have not suffered through a number of snowstorms by now.

Many would say, hey be happy – you don’t have to shovel, or try to maneuver your car over ice or worry about falling down into a slushy liquid mess. I am happy to avoid those negative aspects of winter but something is missing. I do believe that familiar weather patterns are just like other things that are familiar to us all, they make us comfortable because we know what is coming or what to expect.

For months now I have been posting photos of some adorable feral kittens that live in my neighborhood. They come through my yard frequently. I have never touched them but I observe them and draw pleasure from their existence. When I think they and their mother are having a hard time, I sometimes leave them food. The mom has lived in this neighborhood for at least five years and seems to be deaf. She also appears to be pretty old. Those of you who have observed or enjoyed the company of cats know that they don’t have wrinkles to tip you off to their age, but they do have a “look” that says I’m no kitten! I have never touched the mom and she hisses at me on occasion. She’s a tough kitty raising her litters on her own. I believe that I saw one of her kittens 3 years ago. I have never seen the others until now. For some reason in 2011 she let me see the last pair of kittens that she had. Note that I said “see” not “touch.”

Well, I was happy with this stand off. I knew that if I touched her or her kittens that I would be a goner. I would care too much. I would have one more thing to worry about. Guess what? It has happened anyway. What I am dealing with now is observing this family as it grows and observing more about their lives. One kitten is male and the other is female. They are now 7 or 8 months old. I expected the male to leave and look for a partner but the family has not separated yet. I sometimes see the 3 of them sleeping together in a pile of leaves.

Yesterday, on a very cold day, I observed the kittens sitting on a concrete wall near the side of my house. They both had blown up tails and were very still. I couldn’t see the mom and I tried to see what is was that had frightened them. As I continued to view them from my window, I observed a very large grey male cat on the other side of our fence looking very mean and hissing. I ran to put on a jacket, charged outside with a shovel and saw the large male and the male kitten (who is actually a good size himself) run off. They were growling and hissing as they disappeared from my view.

I could go on forever about this and I am sure that some of you already know where I am headed in this story. Let me end it this way:  I know that the cats can take care of themselves, all cats should be spayed or neutered, no I can’t own or protect every animal in the world, why didn’t I bla, bla, bla…

Listen, I am grateful to have the opportunity to love people and animals. I am happy to love these kittens from afar. The male cat will be chased away eventually, that is they way it works in the animal world. I am happy that they haven’t not be adversely effected by deep New England snows but you know what? That is cold comfort to me…

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