My favorite and true Cat Story.
People called her Crow because she looked like the bird, sleek in form and jet black in color. Her home was an old barracks now used as a Works Shed for the Canadian National Exhibition. Her job was to keep the mouse population under control during the winter months. Crow did her job well and her payment was food and water, always left in the north corner of the building, by the manager’s office.
When the tulips and daffodils flowered in the Spring she knew her work was done for another year. The time had come to move outside into fresh air and sunshine. Crow delighted in meeting her friends who lived as she did in other buildings. Together they would explore acres of display centers, booths, rides and concession stands. It was neat to watch the action as workmen prepared for the main event or to just romp about at will. Food and water were easy to find and she could always slip under a porch or floorboard to sleep at night. It was the best.
As the end of summer and Exhibition time approached Crow was faced with some decision making. She was already heavy with a new litter of kittens and needed to find refuge to deliver her offspring … a place that would be safe from the crowds of people she knew would soon arrive. The barracks was no good because people were now coming and going at all hours. Her normal outdoor sleeping spots were too exposed. Thousands of children would come with the crowds and they would explore every corner looking for another potential thrill. After days of searching she found a spot. It was under a new building by the east gate, close to the railway line but protected by a fence. Nobody would find them there. Food stalls were close by so short night trips would ensure all the nourishment she would need.
Her plan was good but even as Crow approached the end of term she didn’t feel rushed to go into hiding. She continued to roam and then one fateful night she chose the wrong floorboard to sleep under. As opening day was getting closer the sound of hammers banging and drills drilling way into the night was common so she’d learned to sleep through anything. Unfortunately that night workmen enclosed the floor of the booth under which she was sleeping.
Her first reaction when she woke in the morning was panic. There was no way she could dig beneath the wall boards because they had been driven deep to support the structure above. Now the concession stand was completed there was nobody to hear her cries.
After the initial shock wore off Crow looked about to assess her situation. At least there was a bit of air circulating and there were spaces in the floorboards above her. She sensed her kittens would arrive soon and knew they’d be trapped until the fair was over. Two days passed and she concentrated hard on a new plan. In the middle of the second night she realized her babies were about to drop. She pulled them one by one to the safety of her belly knowing it was important to keep them warm. There were three boys and two girls. As she cleaned and examined each one in turn she verified they were all healthy. It would be several days before they opened their eyes and started to move, enough time to establish a routine.
From the sounds outside and overhead the show was about to start. She thought if I can just get through the first day we’ll be okay. Crow was counting heavily on her ability to sleep through anything. Next morning the gates opened. It wasn’t long before the nightmare began. It sounded like a herd of elephants overhead. Loud harsh voices going up and down the pitch scale and stomping feet that made the whole structure shake. At first it was threatening and she could feel her heart pounding in anticipation. It happened gradually but finally a rhythm developed and she was able to drift off to sleep. As nighttime approached the sounds eased off.
Waking slowly and stretching to get the kinks out she felt her little babies fall away from their nest and watched them fumble to get back. They crawled over each other, rolling and falling in their blind quest. It was interesting to see how their instincts were a driving force and she pushed them gently as encouragement to keep moving. This would be their routine – sleep during the day and move about at night. It was a relief to see food had dropped through the floorboards and a pool of water had accumulated in the corner. Crow ate and drank what she needed and then settled to feed the kittens. Her milk would be enough for them. For 15 days she followed this routine methodically. During the day she would shield the little ones from the noise overhead. During the night she nudged and prodded, teaching them all she knew about survival.
None too soon the show ended and within several days workmen began to dismantle the stand. When they pulled the first floorboard up and discovered Crow and her family there was a lot of confusion.
“Hey guys, come and see what we found. There’s a family of cats under this floor. They must have been trapped here. Be careful, they’ve got to be really wild after what they’ve been through … it’s hard to believe they’re still alive.”
The men watched warily as Crow slowly stood up. She looked at her five little babes and gave each one a nudge to stand with her. Then she turned and bounded through the gap taking everyone by surprise. Without a backward glance she ran at top speed back to her home, the barracks. She’d done her job – her plan had worked. Her lovely kittens were alive, a bit wild, but alive to follow their own destiny. She knew from previous litters the workmen would now take over.
“I’ll be” said the kindly lead workman. “Looks as though we’ve been left with a big responsibility. These kittens need a home.”