“Mama Jinxy, how are your grandchildren doing?” Asked one of my neighbours as she knocked on my door. With visitors in my house, everyone bursts into laughter.
“Indeed that name serves Patience right. Jinxy gets treated and pampered like a human being, so she is one lucky child to have a great mother,” said one of my friends.
It’s almost 3 weeks now since my cat- Jinxy gave birth to four beautiful kittens. I look at her and I see the little kitten who has been a great company for almost a year now. I have seen her grow, I have shouted at her, she has gone into hiding, been inviting her many boyfriends into my house who have been stealing her food and leaving her hungry. Now, she is a mother and I am moved by the affection she has for her kittens. I know in a month’s time, I will be giving them away, I am scared and I wonder if at all, we will still be friends. I hope we will be.
It has been indeed a growing moment for me. At first, I dreaded the thought of having kittens in my house. I saw Jinxy on heat and it was such a chaotic period in my neighborhood. I didn’t know that there were so many cats around until that time. I now understand that when cats are on heat, there is a specific sound that they make, that attracts the male species. So, about four of them, camped and fought at my balcony. Every cat looking for a chance to be the lucky one to service Jinxy. I watched this in amazement. I think it took like 3 days and the period fizzled out. Jinxy was back to her normal self.
Then, that served a reality that in less than three months, my cat will be a mother. Day by day, she started growing bigger and bigger and everyone who saw her while she was a kitten, remarked how fast Jinxy had grown into a full mother. Finally she started getting tired and the playful kitten, now became one lazy mama, opting to spend her day sleeping by the carpet.
Unconsciously, every other day I got home anticipating to find her with kittens. The truth is, I was very scared of this moment. I really do not know why, but yes, I was very scared. We grew up with male cats, I suppose, because I never saw them give birth, so I didn’t know what to expect. I goggled and read about cats giving birth but, the thought of having kittens in my house always scared me.
I even decided to give her away, so I called animal protection in Nairobi and asked if they could keep my cat until she gives birth then I could pick her 2 months later, but, they advised otherwise. They said, it will be unfair to mix pets with abandoned cats, most of them have not been vaccinated and therefore, that will mean exposing her to diseases, especially if I wanted her back after some time. However, they gave me a different option, they gave me some four numbers of people who take care of pets when the owners are on vacation abroad or when they are working out of Nairobi and I thought this will be a great idea.
I took the numbers and started calling one by one. I realized most of these were some Wazungu’s and actually I talked to one Mzungu lady. I didn’t reveal the exact reason as to why I wanted someone to take care of my cat for about two months. I just said, I will not be in a position to do so. Keep in mind, how guilty I was about this whole process, but, again, I had to do it because I was scared of the kittens.
“So you are looking for someone to take care of your cat for about two months? I charge Ksh. 560 per day, so multiply that by 60 days and you have to pay all the money upfront.” To say I was shocked is understatement. “Ksh 56 or 560?” I asked. “I said Ksh. 560 a day and for your information, I am the cheapest person around.” She retorted.
I quickly calculated this and it came to about Ksh. 34,000. I sat down and asked myself, is it really worthy it? Even in a year, I wouldn’t spend this amount on jinxy. I don’t think I spend more than KShs. 2000 a month, so why will I be spending that entire amount for 2 months, incredible. That marked the end for my search for an alternative home for Jinxy.
As time went by, I noticed that she started looking for new hideouts under my bed or even on the wardrobes. “ When I was young, our cat gave birth on my bed, but it wasn’t a big deal, we just removed her and gave her a new place and life went on. Be prepared, she will give birth in a secluded place, cats are very private animals,” remarked one of my friends.
One evening, having gone to Carnivore to buy her some food as I will usually do, I came home and made her a great soup. But, she was missing. I looked for her all over the house and she was nowhere to be found. I asked my neighbours to search for her in their houses, she wasn’t there. I went around calling her, but she wasn’t responding. At 11pm, I gave up and put her food in the fridge, lest her boyfriends sneak in and eat it all. I went to bed a frustrated woman, wondering who could have stolen her. I just hoped that, that person will be kind enough to take good care of her.
Having switched off my lights and tucked myself in my bed, it was all quiet. Then, I just couldn’t help it but hear her growl under my bed. Noticeably, were also the little sounds of her kittens. I shivered and not sure of what to do, I just cried. I was scared to death. Under my bed, but why?
I finally gathered strength to call my neighbour. At first she laughed at me, and that even sadden me more. I begged her to come and remove them under my bed but, she refused. The thought of jumping out of my bed, scared me. I couldn’t even switch on the lights. After many minutes of begging her she promised to come, but, she wasn’t removing the kittens for me.
Once she was at my door step, I jumped out of my bed and opened the door for her. We looked under the bed and we couldn’t see her. Then, I remembered that I had an empty suitcase and occasionally, I saw her getting into the suitcase. So, we confirmed that she had given birth in my suitcase. That was a reason enough for me to pick my beddings and leave my house. I wasn’t even moving to the next room, I was literally, moving out of my house and to my neighbour for a few days.
Finally we got it figured out, the following day, I could ask one of our watchmen, if he wasn’t scared, then he could remove them from under my bed, open the suitcase and leave them there as long as jinxy preferred. This was indeed done the following day. I still took some days off my house, occasionally stepping in to give Jinxy some food and then leave.
Luckily my boyfriend and my siblings who love Jinxy have been very supportive and helped me get over my fears, making lots of jokes about my relationship with Jinxy. “Why would you let a cat make you leave your home, she is actually terrorizing you. Don’t you think? Asked a friend. I can peacefully report that we have started a new chapter, I am loving being the mother to Jinxy and taking care of her kittens for two months, then I will give them out to friends who have already booked for these kittens. Almost 3 weeks now, the kittens are growing very fast, they are trying to make their first steps and they have now opened their eyes.
“You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”
― P.J. O’Rourke