Monday, June 30, 2008

The Argus Observes: What to do with a litter of kittens?

(Editor’s note: I doubt my father would have carried through with the plan he lays out in this column. But there may not have been a lot of options in 1954.)

From the July 5, 1954 issue of The Argus-Observer

One of life’s unhappy assignments that I dread is having to get rid of unwanted kittens or puppies.

And it happened last week --- an unexpected litter of kittens that gave me nightmares of a visit to the river with a mewing little bundle.

Kittens never made much difference to me until we had old Tom a few years ago. He came to our house as a kitten and wouldn’t have found a home except for the unkindness of a neighbor.

The stray kitten was hanging around our yard and this neighbor set his dog after the kitty. We came to the kitten’s defense and thus acquired a new pet.

Tom grew up to be a real gentleman, a pleasure to have around. I liked to have him rub around my ankles purring with great contentment. He died unexpectedly leaving us as abruptly as he had come to us, but he left a new respect for cats around our house.

I parked the car in the garage one day a week or so ago and when I went to the house, Agnes (Mrs. Lynch) said, “Did you see the kittens?”

My heart sank. I guessed at once what had happened.

She told me that she had gone out to get the car earlier in the day and had found a forlorn cat in the garage. She peeked into the wood bin, and there nestled under the sticks of kindling and old wood scraps was a littler of five tiny kittens.

Nothing more was said. We avoided telling the boys about it because we both knew we didn’t want the task of raising the kittens. And we didn’t talk about how to solve the problems, because neither of us cared to face up to the solution.

Nevertheless it was on my conscience. I tried to visualize the best place to throw them into the river – a place where no one would see me and guess what a dastardly deed was being committed. I gave consideration to the best way to weight the sack and felt cruel and miserable. I considered chloroform but having had no experience using it wondered what kind of a botch I would make of the job.

I tried to put it out of my mind with little effect.

Then a couple of days later I came home and Agnes was all smiles.

“Guess what happened to the kittens,” she said.

And this was the story:

Tabby had given birth to her little ones in the grass by the garage where she lived. Her caretaker forgot to leave the garage open for her to move them under cover and that night it rained.

I had forgotten to lock our garage, so it served the purpose. She moved her new family over a solid four foot wall into our woodbin – quite a task but she got it done with capable mother car.

Her masters knew she had taken the babies somewhere because they saw her leave with the last kitten, and they had systematically searched until they were found in our garage.

They were carefully picked up by a cloth covered hand, placed in a soft new bed in a box, and their mother followed full of satisfaction as they were returned to the proper garage.

She was hardly more pleased that I was with the happy ending to her family crisis.
– By Don Lynch

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