I've always believed in God. I've always believed in Angels and miracles. I've never believed in them as much as I did on this one particular day in April, 2005.
While giving birth is a miracle within itself, I don't think I had ever really been witness to any other kind of miracle until a few days after my cat, Batista, had given birth to a litter of 5 kittens. Most cats after giving birth, will clean off each kitten after it has entered the world. If a kitten is still-born, the mother will usually eat it. I know it sounds kind of disgusting, but it is what it is.
I suppose before you can really grasp the concept of this particular miracle, I should give you a bit of background on Batista. Batista came to live with me at about the age of maybe 4 or 5 weeks. She was born under my sister's porch and left behind by a mother who may have abandoned her or been killed before she had a chance to move her last kitten. Unfortunately, my sister lived on a heavily trafficed road, so I'm thinking it may have been the latter. In any instance, this little bit of a kitten was left behind and needed a home. I don't believe in coincidences, but it just so happened that I was in need of a kitten.
After bringing Batista home, she pretty much lived under my bed and bureau for the first couple of months. She was absolutely terrified of every movement and every sound. When she was finally ready to move out from under the bureau, where her meals were pushed under to her, she moved inside the lining behind my couch. Her meals were moved here as well to accommodate her. Although Batista had moved her living quarters she was still too skittish to come out. After a few weeks in her new headquarters, Batista finally started making her way out to check out the rest of the house. She was still terrified of everything, including myself. My slightest movement was enough to send her scurrying back into the lining of the couch.
After a few weeks of this behavior, I moved Batista's food and water bowl to a place on a table that was out in the open, but out of reach of my Chihuahau. If she wanted to eat, she was going to have to be brave and come and get it. Poor thing didn't eat for the first couple of days. I assume she was desperately hungry, because finally one morning I found her up on an end table eating her food. She was so engrossed in it that she either didn't hear me come up behind her or she didn't care. She kept on eating, but when she was done, she went back to her home under the couch. She lived like this for months.
While Batista made her home behind the couch, I took in two more kittens. Both of whom were extremely friendly. What I didn't count on was one of these two new kittens being a male! With these two new cats around the house, maybe it showed Batista there was nothing to be afraid of. By now Batista was getting a little bit older and making my home, her home. Although she took nicely to the new additions, she was still a little skittish of me. She didn't mind being around me, but she still wouldn't let me pet her. Company would swear I was even imagining that she even existed, because as soon as they would arrive, she would take off hiding. No one ever saw her.
When I said Batista took to the two new cats, I should have told you that she apparently took more to the male, because she ended up pregnant. It was at this time that I noticed that there was something wrong with Batista. Of course a cat's belly will swell when it becomes pregnant, but Batista's was swelling almost in a lop-sided fashion. It turned out she was not only pregnant, but she had a hernia.
The vet told me that Batista might have a hard time giving birth. She was right. After coming home one day from work, I found Batista under my kitchen table giving birth to her second kitten. The first one had been cleaned of and was lying with her. I don't believe I had ever seen Batista look at me the way she looked at me that afternoon. It was almost as if you could see the physical pain in her eyes. She looked exhausted at the same time. I'm not sure how long it took for the first kitten to come out, but I know it took close to 30 minutes for the second one to make it's way all the way out. While waiting with Batista, I just kept softly rubbing her belly for her. As I was doing this she just put her head in my lap like she wanted to give up. Here was the cat that barely tolerated me with her head in my lap! Within the next hour, 2 more kittens were born. I sat with Batista for an hour following this to make sure she was done and to make sure she was ok. When all seemed good, I put Batista and her new family in a cozy box with a blanket and I resigned myself to the couch for a nap.
After napping for about 45 mins, I heard Batista crying. I jumped up thinking something must be wrong. Unfortunately, I was right. While I slept, Batista gave birth to one more kitten. Although this newbie was dead, Batista had cleaned it off and pushed it off to the side rather than eat it. Because she didn't eat it, I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. It wasn't really much bigger than my thumb. I knew I had to dispose of it.
I finally decided that I would say a prayer for it and put it out with the trash. Then I thought about rats, squirrels, skunks and other creatures that may smell it and try to get at it. Because trash day wasn't for a couple more days, I came up with a different plan. I first, very neatly, wrapped the kitten in a couple of soft paper towels. I then placed the paper towels in a zip-lock bag, which I also folded up very neatly. I put them in the freezer to keep there until the morning when the trash would be picked up. As I closed the freezer door, I said a small prayer just asking God to please take care of this little creature, who never had a chance. I went and sat with Batista and her living babies for a little while. She actually let me stay and console her.
A couple of days later I knew I had to take the kitten out of the fridge and put it out to be picked up. The thought of doing it was painful, but I knew I had no choice. So I went to the freezer...no kitten. I was horrified! I live alone and knew I hadn't moved it. I looked everywhere. Finally, I came to the conclusion that my son must have done something with it (He has a morbid sense of humor at times.) I called him and he was more horrified at the idea that I thought he would do something that awful, than I was at the fact that this kitten was missing. Then it hit me...I remembered the prayer. I asked God to take care of this little one...and that's exactly what he did. This tiny kitten wasn't meant to be put out in such a fashion so God made sure he wasn't.
After Batista's ordeal, she still never let anyone see her, but she has taken to me. She has turned into quite the love bug. I never let her get pregnant again and her vet says the hernia doesn't bother her so they don't want to remove it. Now we are a family of myself, 2 dogs and 3 cats. Batista gets along fine with all of us. In fact I believe she thinks she's the queen.
Batista may be the queen of the castle, but I wonder if she knows her still-born kitten trumps her as a four-pawed angel?