I knew today was her due date based on a 62-day gestation period, and was thus prepared. Her water broke while I was still in bed this morning, and warned Kevin about the news. (He showed no emotion).
By mid-morning Reina was acting aggitated. Her breathing was heavy and she pawed the couch cover a few times, as if she was trying to crawl underneath the cover to give birth. She lay on the cover, and by 10:30am I noticed two small dime-sized stains of blood. This was it, I thought.
Reina had shown a preference for the couch during her pregnancy, pawing at the cover and trying to get underneath it where it was dark. I preferred her give birth in the closet, so when I felt she was ready to give birth, I dragged her to the bedroom closet. She wanted none of that and ran back to the couch. All I could do now was drag a towel for extra padding, to keep stains off my $800 couch. I almost didn’t make it.
I took a quick shower and when I rushed out to check on Reina at 10:55am, a black tail came out. At first I thought it was pre-natal fecal manner, but then the tail swirled, and a few minutes later two clawed paws poked out, then a tiny waist...and I helped pull the first kitten to this world at 11:08am. Reina barely made a noise.
How small and cool the little cat felt in my hand, still wet with afterbirth and trying to meow. It had been ten years since I felt a kitten this small.
I was nervous, worried and shaking with fear. I didn't have time to get completely dressed, and was relieved that Kevin and the dogs had already taken off for the camping trip; Reina could give birth in peace. But what if something were to go wrong? Reina was panting heavy, and I could tell she was contracting. But she barely meowed during the birth, and immediately started licking herself and the kitten dry: a black-brown male tabby.
I rubbed Reina's belly, petted her head and craddled her all morning, gently talking with her to soothe her. She seemed to appreciate my help. Like two moms experiencing childbirth, only a woman can understand the pain of such event. I relived the birth of my own children through Reina this morning, as well as her previous four births.
But by witnessing the birth of the first kitten, memories of the past also came back to me: of family members I know who abused cats and got rid of them in inhumane matters, to my own guilt of not spaying her when last year alone in Pima County over 12000 unwanted animals were put to death simply because they were unwanted.
She's such a tiny cat but handles birth like a champ, although she'd get feverish after everyone. I was worried when 40 minutes later the little guy was still attached to the umbilical cord and Reina was still eating afterbirth. Was this normal? It took two hours before I could hear the little guy meow. And she still felt pregnant. Where were the other kittens? Were they dead inside her? Or were they going to come at a later date?
After two hours Little Guy—for lack of a real name-- was dry and clamoring to Reina. But Reina still felt pregnant. When were the others coming out? I was getting nervous.
By 3pm, with little time left before the CCMG graduation, I decided to move Reina to the bedroom closet, so that Little Guy wouldn't fall off the couch. She went into the shower to cool off, and 30 minutes later I saw her carry Little Guy back to the couch. She wanted the couch, thankyouverymuch. But wait, that kitten in her mouth wasn't Little Guy...it was Little Gal! She somehow gave birth somewhere out of my sight to her second kitten, a black Calico girl with a loud mouth to boot. So now Little Guy had a sister, Big Mouth.
Now Reina felt more normal in size, but she was still struggling with the heat and panting. I left at 4pm, stopped at the feed store to get some kitten formula because it didn't look like Reina was lactating yet. And then I went to the CCMG graduation and for three hours enjoyed the company of my fellow students; I will miss that camaraderie but it looks like a few of them are also getting trained in the office. Irushed home after the graduation party as quickly as I could.
I was back home at 7pm, with a full belly from the pot-luck people brought in. I was back to mothering Reina, by now settled into her new motherhood. She seemed to be lactating now. Little Guy's the quiet boy, and Big Mouth is the rambunctious little girl who pushes her brother out of the way for a warm nipple. It's the perfect size cat family. I can handle two more cats in the family, but can Kevin and the dogs?
There is something calming about watching new mothers and their newborns. Reina has always been a great mom, licking her kittens and watching over them like a cat only does, and responding frantically to any "MEW!" from her brood. I spent most of the eveing watching over her and her new family than I did in getting my camping gear packed.