Our lovely arrangement did not last forever. One day, all three boys split and went their separate ways, with my boy and I settling into a tiny basement apartment together. Switching locations made me uneasy. I was so used to all the smells and sounds of the old place, and this new place was unfamiliar and upsetting. My boy would leave me on my own for the entire span between sun-up and sundown, going off to Morris knows where. I knew loneliness for the first time in my life. I know we cats have this reputation for being aloof and independent, and I am sure that is true for some of us, but living with the three boys and getting showered with constant love and treats and chin scratches had spoiled me. I craved company. I was definitely not pleased with this new arrangement.
I believe my boy sensed this loneliness within me. On top of that, from time to time I would grow restless and anxious. I would sit at the window, yearning and yowling. Something inside of me ached and burned, and I would experience flashes of heat within my belly. One night, during one of my restless periods, my boy opened the window and motioned for me to venture outside. It was confusing, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to go, but the churning inside me won over, and I squeezed out into the world and leapt over the fence.
Oh, my, but those next few days were a blur. I met so many cats and sniffed so many butts and drank from so many puddles and ate so much grass. I felt rebellious and wild and free. Male cats seemed to sense that I was out and about and ready for anything. You should excuse the expression, but you couldn't swing a cat without hitting some feline Lothario, out to woo and seduce me. But once I consented and offered myself to them, things got ugly. They would crawl on top of me and pin me down, and it would hurt, and we would howl as if we'd lost our minds. Sounds came out of me I didn't know I could make! They took turns, one right after the other. There was very little in the way of finesse, and I can't say I enjoyed it much, but I couldn't make myself stop. They would bite my ears and neck and be done within seconds, and then scamper off without so much as a wave of a paw or a fare-thee-well. Men!
My restlessness had put me on autopilot, wandering the streets and crawling along fences, but as quickly as this restless feeling had started, it went away, and I was anxious to see my boy and be back inside again. I was not cut out for the stray cat life. I had a home and I needed to get back to it. I retraced my steps, found our fence, and squeezed back in through the window that my boy had left open for me. It was dark inside the apartment, but I easily found my way to my boy's bed and jumped up beside him. He was wide awake, as if he were waiting patiently for my return. I have no idea how long I had been gone, but judging by his cries and the tears that moistened my fur, he had missed me terribly.
I felt funny after that. Not funny "ha ha," but funny "strange." My body became chubby and awkward, and my underside began to swell and become sore. I think my boy knew what was going on, and it almost seemed as if he had planned for this to happen. My belly got bigger and bigger, until I just couldn't take it anymore. I found a spot in the middle of the floor in the bedroom and just sprawled there, panting heavily. My boy sat with me, stroking me and cooing softly. I was quite warm, and my head was spinning. I drifted in and out, and had fits of visions of millions of other cats before me, experiencing the same thing, having the same pain, pushing, breathing, showing me what I was supposed to do. Suddenly, something shifted, and I felt a hot, wet lump pass between my hind legs. I weakly lifted my head and saw this slick, plastic looking mass, jerking and twitching at my feet. I craned my neck over and began licking it, cleaning it, smelling it, urging it into consciousness. Just like that, it all made sense to me. Instinct was taking over, and I was becoming a mother.
What happened next I've never understood. It stands out in my mind as one of the most disgusting things I have ever done. It was so foul I can barely bring myself to talk about it. Something else shifted inside of me, and out plopped this quivering mass of veiny, slimy, dark red . . . I don't KNOW what! After the joy of seeing the little newborn baby-cat, this was quite a shock. But again, instinct commandeered my senses, and I reached down and swallowed this horrific mess in just three or four gulps. What the heck was I thinking? It was hardly lady-like, but it seemed so
necessary, and I must admit I felt energized and refreshed after downing that bloody, gelatinous glop. It did elicit an "EWWWWW!" out of my boy, but he never left my side. He was the perfect midwife. He stayed with me as this whole bizarre ritual repeated itself two more times, and I collapsed, exhausted. My boy gently placed me and my three squiggly, squirmy baby-cats inside a large box that was fitted with soft towels. He beamed down at me and wept. I could tell he was pleased, and that I had done a good job. That particular moment, with my children by my side and my boy looking down on me with pride, was one of purest sweet contentment that I shall never forget.
Life for the next few human months was nothing but licking and cleaning and resting and letting the baby-cats have their way with my sagging belly. So much for my figure! But it was a warm, satisfying time, and it made me curious about my own mother. Surely I was once like those sightless, fragile, birdlike creatures, stumbling and fumbling at my own mother's breast. I wondered briefly about what might have become of her and my siblings. Did we have a safe, warm home with a human family? Or did we find shelter in an abandoned garage, or behind a dumpster, or under a porch? Were we strays? How had I become separated from them? Did they ever wonder what had become of me? I wished that I could contact my mother and let her know how nicely my life had turned out, AND that she was a grandmother!