“It looks like a skinny chicken!” was one of the first comments that we heard as our kids watched their cat give birth to the first of several kittens. It looked more like a hairless rat to me. Honestly, thinking back now had I not seen the momma with the baby, I might have called the local volunteer fire department to report the first ever citing of an infant Portuguese Chupacabra, which is Mexican for a goat-sucking urban legend that preys on small animals in places like Puerto Rico, Miami, and Russia.
Google it first, look at pictures of a ten minute old kitten, and then try to tell me I'm wrong. Dead ringer if there ever was one.
Since today is Kid's Day here in Portugal, we let the girls stay home from school in the afternoon to watch the miracles of feline delivery. All they did up until lunchtime at school was paint. No reading, 'righting, and 'rithmetic today. It's Kid's Day! What joys of the Portuguese educational system. Anyway, we concluded that it would be much more educational to watch the contractions, endless licking, and chewing off of the umbilical cord that goes along with the animal kingdom in its natural habitat – a plastic clothes basket stuffed with towels on my couch.
Faith wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, so she was thrilled when Tigra crawled up into her lap, already seeping preparatory fluid for the coming delivery. Presented with the first opportunity, she quickly went and changed her socks and skirt but returned undeterred by such minor distractions.
All Nina could say as she watched was, “I know Tig. I know.” Thinking of the names I was called each time she brought one of our kids into this world, I slowly and quietly exited the room before I was blamed for a family's worth of labor pains.
I suppose a certain mercy and strange curiosity drove my wife to assist her pet as she travailed.
All of this started, when Nina plucked her from a mud puddle in the middle of the road about a year ago. When she got home, she sheepishly came to my office revealing that she had rescued a kitten that was sure to die any moment. It was disoriented, soaking wet, blind, and could barely breathe. Although she half expected me to get a shovel and take away the cat's misery, I authorized an unknown vet bill for a free kitten. She jumped in the van and returned with wonderful news. Much to my surprise, the young female vet didn't charge her anything because we rescued the cat and promised to give it a good home. The generous vet would repeat the practice when we adopted a skittish, maltreated black lab a few months later. Now, whenever we go, the good Dr. only charges us for medication. Obviously she's not in it for the money.
We have treated our animals there as they have needed it with only one major exception. Due to financial constraints we ignored Bob Barker's faithful advice. You remember, “Bob Barker reminding you: help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Goodbye, everybody!”
Now comes the real work – finding a good home for animals who, in our part of the world, are regularly put in plastic bags and thrown in dumpsters or drowned in mud puddles. That, and coming up with $200 so this doesn't happen again.
Written by Michael Andrzejewski for The LaGrange Daily News.