We could not keep up with the way things were going. The cats were breeding faster than we could act. They preferred to live in Jungle Jim's place but arrived for dinner at ours They would jump the old paling fence and cut through next door's driveway to ours. Or some, like Dennis, would walk along the fence to end up at our house, run up the driveway and arrive to take his spot at the table (read plate).
Early on as a half grown kitten he would be at the front door asking for food several times a day. So he became....Dennis the Menace.
Certainly there were more cats there and not too far away either. I had regular reports by the young girl next door. She would say Jungle Jim would ask her 'and where is this cat or that cat?' and she would reply back to him but failed to mention how insane we were starting to look. He would nod happily. We must have been a Godsend to him.
Socks was one of this new generation, a very shy and timid black and white female, too frightened to push in for food with the others. So I coaxed her into having hers half way under the car while the others were busy eating. She seemed very young but was probably around eight months or more and it soon became obvious that she was actually pregnant.
There was also Mona, a sad, dreary and hopeless looking girl that I found hiding in the shrubbery looking emaciated and sick. I was not at all pleased. I told her she should not be there and I was beginning to feel as desperate as she looked.
Socks grew bigger and bigger and finally when she came for the food one day she was all of a sudden slim. The young girl next door came to tell me that she knew where Socks' kittens were, they were in the woodpile over their back fence in the jungle yard. I said leave them there but when the time is right we are going to have to catch them and I might need your help.
At one stage she was talking about the kittens and mimed one shut eye. Her English was not great and so I did not understand.
Then one Sunday, Socks kept appearing at the front door and I scolded her to go and look after her kittens.
I soon discovered that the girl and her parents had visitors and both she and her cousins had these little kittens and were walking around with them in their hands and in their pockets. The kittens were around three weeks old.
I was furious when I found out what was happening. The kids ran away from me and I was so upset and went knocking on the neighbor's door to babble that the kittens would die if the kids didn't put them back for the mother. The lady was busy asking me to sit and have a coffee and she smiled since she did not understand the import of the situation. The children were ordered to give the kittens to me and horrified, I saw they all had weepy eyes full of pus and mostly closed shut!
So I took the kittens and then ordered them to go inside and wash their hands thoroughly.
I put them in a cage we'd bought for Missie when she was desexed. We put the cage inside our front door with the lid to the hutch open and tried to entice Socks inside.
Socks was distraught. She tried to swipe them out of the cage but it wasn't possible. She kept running out the door. Desperate to catch her I tied twine to the handle of the screen door and sat around the corner of the wall waiting for her to come back in. When she did I pulled it shut tight. John arrived just in time to grab the carrier. . Socks urinated in fright while hanging onto the wire, whilst I hung on to that twine as hard as I could to keep the door shut and we somehow scooped her into said carrier and managed to close it in time. then sat there panting and shaking. All three of us.
Then off to to the shelter who would take the kittens, medicate and rehome them. They whined in their carrier looking at me with mucky glued shut eyes. My problems would soon be over.
The shelter, not surprisingly in retrospect, were not that impressed however! They could take the kittens but would have to put them down as the attendant said the kittens had catflu and they could not take the risk of spreading it. No I said they don't have catflu, they are not sick, it is just conjunctivitis. No, he said, they are sick. Are you a vet? I asked. No but he had a certificate he said for something indeterminate to me. He said they could take the mother because she looked nice and healthy but would have to put her down because she wasn't friendly.
That seemed to be a convoluted argument!
None of this was going to plan. I wanted them to desex her, we take her back and they take the kittens and rehome them. No.
So what will happen to them I asked. He predicted that they would start sneezing and get very sick and then die.
I remember standing there, very upset, worried about making the right decision. He had qualifications. I did not. Was it time to listen to other voices? Then I looked at Socks who seemed to be looking at the kittens and back at us and knew something serious was going on so I picked up the carrier and said to all at large:
'Well I'm not going to leave them here if you are going to kill them" and we walked out.
Not feeling as brave as we hoped we looked. we drove back home in silence under a black cloud of doubt, fear, panic and something akin to terror was beginning to set in.
To be continued.