As I headed out this afternoon Heather reminded me of a Cat Sanctuary tradition. Feral-born Polly, Heather's great-grandmother, made a particular point of resting her head on my hand or knee while she nursed her kittens. Heather's mother and grandmother did this too, in their turns; Heather's sister Irene and aunt Ivy did it this spring.
Heather, who chose to give birth prematurely in hope of adopting one of Candice's new kittens this spring, has no surviving kittens of her own. Irene and Ivy integrated their litters when they were about a month old and have shared parenting duties, including Heather and allowing their kitten-free sister Iris to baby-sit as well...but what Heather reminded me today was that she hadn't rested her head on my hand while nursing the surviving kittens yet. (She did this during the hours when her premature and adopted kitten were alive.)
So we did that. Then I came to the computer center and found this story on Yahoo:
That animals mourn isn't even news any more, but the reference to a dog burying a dead dog friend reminded me of one of the more unusual things Candice did. Regular readers may remember that we lost Bisquit and some kittens during the same week when I was suffering the effects of pesticide exposure. Candice survived. During that week I noticed a kitten missing, and then saw a tiny burial mound with Candice's distinctive polydactyl paw prints in the dry earth that completely covered the missing kitten. Candice was thirteen months old and hadn't seen humans bury another animal before this incident. So was burying the kitten (one of Bisquit's, not her own) an instinctive act, or had Bisquit, who had seen me bury other animals, shown or told her what to do? Who knows?
Might as well mention this here, too, in case people want to move from the short to the long list or vice versa...this year's surviving kittens are partly Manx. Their father looked like a normal cat whose tail might have been shortened by accident, but most of the kittens were born with short tails or none. Two of them have that "trundling" walk. None has extra toes. Since they're not pedigreed but merely have a dysfunctional gene, I am recommending early sterilization.