She announced her impending labor by leaving a wet and gooey yellow streak on my skirt.
Since I’m a human mom myself, I knew what this was, and that she would have her kittens very soon. Talia was losing her mucus plug, nature’s door to the birth canal. I voiced my uncertainty out loud.
“Talia, I hope you know what to do.” She returned the sentiment with a tentative gaze.
“We’re in this together,” I promised.
I moved the lettuce box into the bathroom and closed her in for the night. Sleeping in the adjacent bedroom, I could hear her digging in litter and rearranging the blankets in the box, her nesting instincts fully engaged. By midnight, I was still awake as I listened to her restless pacing.
At 2 a.m., I awoke to a strange sound, a teeny tiny squeal several octaves higher than I was accustomed to. I cautiously opened the door and found Talia in the lettuce box licking a wet, newborn dark gray tabby. Transfixed by this scene, I sat down and gave her a reassuring pet. Within minutes she turned in a circle and started contracting, quietly expelling a gelatinous glob with another kitten inside. She broke the sack with her teeth and bathed its face. I watched anxiously, relaxing when I saw the kitten take its first breath. Two babies!
Things slowed down a bit, and I murmured soft words of encouragement, thinking about all the brave stray kitties giving birth on their own, outside in undesirable conditions. These tiny flailing babies already had my heart. The amazing miracle of birth occurring right here in my bathroom in the still of the night humbled me, blurring all thoughts of all the less significant events in my life at the moment.
I was in awe.
Kitten number four interrupted my pondering. Bedlam broke out in the box. Kittens two and three, still attached to their placentas, dragged them across the blood-stained blankets while Talia eagerly tended to the latest baby. I decided to help by cutting their cords with the suture Dr. C had given me, wincing as I tied it tight and freed them.
“Talia, four is enough for a first-timer. Are you done?” I asked.
But she wasn’t. Number five arrived within seconds, a light gray tabby who looked just like mom. It was 4 a.m. now, and mama Talia relaxed as the little ones rooted around and started nursing. Relieved that all the babies were born alive, and feeling a satisfied sense of accomplishment, I decided to get a little more sleep, excited to announce the birth to my family and the Tabby’s Place staff in the morning.
It was a good thing I didn’t know the hardest part was yet to come.
To be continued…