If I were a sappier sort, I might say that mama cats are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike.
But I’ve been around cats long enough to know that metaphor doesn’t quite work. Mama cats are more like…Koosh balls.
Now that I’ve outed myself as a child of the ’80s, let me refresh your memory. Koosh balls were those weirdly wonderful, rubberized orbs of awesomeness that multiplied in the homes of everyone ages 2 – 10 circa 1988. Picture a tribble that goes boing, or Animal from The Muppet Show if he were made of neon rubber. Koosh balls came in all colors, sizes and personalities, from pale pink to violent chartreuse. Some had plastic animal faces (though I always considered this an abomination). Dollar stores sold rip-off versions. If you got them in the pool, they got kind of crunchy and less boing-y, but no less excellent. No two of them were alike.
But, unlike snowflakes, Koosh balls were kind of wild, and definitely out of your control. First of all, they made you want more of them. I can’t explain this, exactly, because there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do with 42 Koosh balls at once, other than herd them (not that that’s unsatisfying). They also tended to disappear and reappear in strange places. I kept mine in a little purple basket, and always meticulously made sure to put them all away…but, still, one or two would turn up in the kitchen or under the sink or in the lost city of Atlantis.
Koosh balls and mama cats: in control, in demand, and in no sense ordinary.
So it is with our resident madres, Cypress, Bunny and Gorgonzola. Now that their nests are empty, their own Koosh-y coolness is on full display…and no heart is safe.
Cypress has been an emancipated mama for the longest. Her young’uns, Pogo and Roo, are two now, and have long since flown the coop to a forever home (together, natch). Of our mamacitas, Cypress looks the most like a Koosh ball, her wild hair out-wackied only by her wild nature. Our timid girl knows a thing or two about boinginess, too – just look to her kittens’ names. Roo and Pogo were named for the description we first heard of them from an onlooker: “There were a couple’a kittens over there, just bouncin’ around.” Boingity boing. These days, Cypress has left the springs and sproings of motherhood behind, and is content to snooze in the company of dignified adults. The onetime companion to Trey is a single lady again this summer, making herself comfortable in Dobro’s lair, Suite A.
That’s also home to fellow feral-esque mama Gorgonzola. Mom to the “cheese kittens” Velveeta, Havarti, Feta and Bleu, ‘Zola is none to ready to let human beans mother or smother her. Our striped Koosh is a bundle of paradox: so cute you long to moosh her, so feral you’ll end up in the ICU if you do. But ‘Zola’s days on the run may be numbered. Her love is the mission of a certain brave volunteer, who just so happens to have adopted two of Gorgonzola’s babies. I can only pray that this gentle human bean will be the first to get through to ‘Zola’s lovely heart. At the very least, she can read her Velveeta and Havarti’s letters from camp. It’s all in the family for our most anxious little mom.
The third mom currently at Tabby’s Place is on the run in a very different way. Tiny Bunny is the limited-edition, super-sparkly, top-of-the-Christmas-list Koosh that everyone wants. Except, by “everyone,” I mean “every one of the Tabby’s Plcae staff members whose names rhyme with Zarin.” The bond between “Zarin” and this timid, teensy mama is everlasting – and if it doesn’t culminate in a forever home, well, you can paint me green and call me Gumby. In fact, I’m willing to bet you my entire Koosh collection (you bet I still have ’em) that this is a forever match.
But, meantime, we’ll cherish our mom collection here at Tabby’s Place, loving them in their wildness and wonder. It takes a mighty heart to raise kittens like the bouncy-boingers, the cheese wizards, and the critter litter. We humans have the easy part: letting the mamas master our hearts.