AFTER all the waiting, spring has finally sprung in the Stelfox household.
We have kittens in the spare room and about two hundredweight of frogspawn in the garden.
Mammals are so much less wasteful of their progeny than amphibians and Twinkle (who, I have discovered was actually called Tinker, but I prefer Twinkle) had a litter of just two healthy kittens, fluffy and black exactly like their mum. Such is the extent of their camouflage that for the first couple of days we couldn’t tell exactly how many miniature versions of herself she had produced.
In fact, we discovered later that she had given birth to three kittens but, sadly, one was found to be dead. I spent the day in tears, but Tinkle seemed unmoved.
I told Secondborn that this was not what I had signed up for when we agreed to become Cat Protection foster carers. She thinks I’m silly.
But now the kittens have their eyes open and have started moving about. We take them out of their nest on a daily basis to get them used to being handled. Twinkle has been remarkably understanding about this and makes little prumphing and chirrumphing noises to them while fluffing her tail around us.
I have found that our little family in the spare room is a great stress buster. I rush home from work to see them, to share in their small achievements. “They’re washing themselves,” said Secondborn the other day. And, sure enough, tiny paws, no bigger than a little fingernail were being licked by tongues of roughly the same size. They can’t walk yet but they can wash themselves. Isn’t nature wonderful.
The arrival of the kittens has led to a lot of comparisons with human babies, whose milestones of development are much slower. The Boy was horrified to learn that he couldn’t even lift his head off his mattress until he was several weeks old. Our kittens, in contrast, will be up and walking before the next week is out.
And then the fun will really begin. We’ve already bought them some toy mice and I’ve been eyeing up the spare cardboard boxes at the supermarket and thinking about bringing some home.
The Offspring are ready with their ‘phones to capture priceless amusing footage that they can sell to You’ve Been Framed or put on U Tube or Lolcats.com. After all, the domestic cat is the animal of the Internet.
Unfortunately I can’t bring you a photograph of Twinkle, Whiskers (a proper cat’s name) and Grace (named after one of The Girl’s best friends). As every photographer knows pure black cats don’t photograph too well. Attempts so far have resulted in blurry bundles of fluff with no discernible features. But I’m hopeful of some action shots in the very near future.