A true story of heroism, love and compassion
by Jesse Shortman
She first appeared at Keswick Court on a hot steamy July day. She was exhausted by the heat and, from giving birth to a litter of kittens two weeks earlier.
Her struggle to survive and care for the three infants that had managed to live would have been difficult enough, but to make matters worse, the mother cat had lost her tail to a wild animal that she had encountered while protecting her newborns from its slashing sharp teeth. She couldn't remember if it was a fox or a wolf, but the beast got its bony meal and left the kittens unharmed as their now tailless mother quickly carried all three to safety in her mouth. Her tail stub bled steadily as the mother cat watched over her babies till she sensed the safe time to move along.
The tiny kittens were transported from place to place in the gentle mouth of their mother. She hid them under porches, always careful to watch for large snakes that just might mistake one of her young'uns
for a mouse.
Several weeks had passed and now the kittens were able to walk on their own. They all were healthy thanks to the nurturing instincts of their mother. All three were males; two orange tabbies and one grey and tan striped tiger tabby. They all had pure white paws and white bibs just like their mom. But none of them had the unusual orange diamond shape that covered their mother's forehead. Just below that diamond was another smaller one surrounding her nose.
The mother cat caught insects and small lizards as the boys carefully watched her nimble moves. They were awkward as they tried to imitate a sneak and pounce attack maneuver. The larger of the two orange tabbies was the boldest. He followed his mother and learned most quickly while his two brothers timidly hid out of harm's way. Often the boys would become playful and wrestle with each other in the open grass of a front lawn. At the sight of a human, the mother cat quickly nudged each of them back into the nearest shelter to hide in an open garage or tool shed.
One day the little family hid in Mr. Pierce's garage. It seemed like a safe hiding place to perhaps stay for a while. The tail stub was still bleeding and infection was setting in. The blood dripped slowly but the stains were visible on the garage floor. Several days after the little family had moved into the garage, Mr. Pierce discovered the stains. At first he thought they must have come from one of his two children, but he knew of no injuries to either of them. He closed the garage door and began his search for the intruders. Upon seeing Mr. Pierce, the mother cat coaxed her children behind a lawn mower where they huddled motionless, listening to the terrifying steps of the hunter.
Mama cat had taught her boys how to run from danger, but this time running could mean disaster. As the footsteps drew closer, the grey tabby panicked and made a dash to the closed door. Mr. Pierce turned quickly, spotting the terrified kitty. Suddenly he grabbed a large garden rake and swung it at the tiny target. The weapon missed by inches as the kitten ran frantically to find his mother. Swiftly the mother cat leapt from behind the mower. Her eyes stared intensely at Mr. Pierce. She hissed once as if to say, "don't mess with me." Mr. Pierce lunged at her with the rake as she ducked hissing harder and louder. Then out came the bold orange tabby who, as always imitated his mom; this time in his first attempt at scarring an enemy. His hisses were weaker than his mother's but he was learning how to protect himself from attack. The normally comical look of the mother's face had turned diabolical as she snarled, hissed and spit at the man that wanted to kill her and her babies.
Fearing that the cats may be rabid, Mr. Pierce opened the garage door and watched the mother cat lead her family to the next hiding place.
The boys followed their mother out of Keswick Court.
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