Mira, foremost, with three of her kitties.Late summer 1999, a rainy day in Denver. I heard a cat mewing from beneath a car across the street from our first house. I crossed, and bent down, holding out my hand patiently, seemingly disinterested (as my father had taught me to approach a strange cat). She approached and sniffed, then rubbed with verve, purring. I scooped this tiny cat (about 6 lbs at the time) into my arms, sheltering her from the rain, and carried her to our porch.
What do we have to feed a cat? I thought, alighting on the idea of a can of tuna. I opened the door to retrieve it, and she darted in without a thought or hesitation. I opened the can in the kitchen, and watched her hungrily devour it. We let her out and in over the next few days. She decided it was home. We bought proper cat food, and began to treat her as our charge.
Honey, have you noticed that her nipples are swollen? I wonder what that could mean. I was naive, really. I had no idea... but soon figured it out. Did you know that feline gestation is a mere 9 weeks? No wonder she was hungry.
We discovered that Tigger (as the three children up the block called her) was one of the many (a euphemism in this case) cats that they harbored in and around their home. According to them this was already her third litter. About 4:00 in the morning on the Saturday after Thanksgiving 1999, four tiny kittens the size of my thumb were born in a box full of shredded sheets, rags, and paper in our bedroom closet. She had been in labor for 12 hours, crying constantly.
Mira as we named her (from the Slavic root for "peace" and also incidentally for space and the earth) was an integral part of our family for the next decade. Last night, lying on a pillow beside my eldest son who lay in his sleeping bag on the floor (as he had wished), she passed her final hours. Today we buried her in our backyard, along the fence, where we will later today plant some catnip, and eventually place a stepping stone in her honor. Mira, we will miss you.