Chapter 1: His Mama

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 771




Tiger watched the stranger carry his littermate out of the house. He twitched his long tail with fear and curiosity, then turned his head to face his mother, a beautiful classic red tabby Maine Coon cat.

“Mama? Why are they taking Patches away?”

“The stranger will be Patches’ new human momma, like my momma is to me,” his mother, Duchess, purred in answer. “Don’t fret, my little one. You are so big, strong, and handsome. Someone will see this, and take you to your new life.”

Little Tiger gazed into his mother’s copper eyes, then snuggled against his remaining siblings to nurse. Over the next few days, his mother’s milk trickled slowly, then stopped whenever Tiger suckled for more than a few moments. His siblings left his mother’s side, but Tiger sucked harder, until Duchess pushed him away with a paw. He protested with a mew.

“You must eat real food now. You are almost two full mooncycles old, and no longer need my milk,” she said sternly, slanting back her tufted ears. She flicked her tail. “There is your food. I have no more milk. You must eat it to keep growing strong.”

Tiger turned, peeking over the edge of the kittening box, and spied a bowl of mush. He leaped out of the box, toddled over, sniffed, then licked the mixture. He wrinkled his face in disdain, but his little sister dove into the shallow metal bowl, lapping up the mush with gusto. He sat down. Duchess rose to her feet, and joined him at the big bowl. She lapped up a few mouthfuls, then turned to Tiger.

“If you don’t eat, I will drag you by your scruff, and dunk your nose in it.”

The kitten mewed protest, but obeyed his mother. He lapped up the mush, and, after a few gulps, decided it tasted very good. His stomach growled, and he plunged his face into the food, eating heartily. He jostled his littermate, and his sister squalled protest.

“Mama! Tiger stepped on me!”

“I did not!” Tiger lifted his head from the bowl. Food dripped from his chin onto the beige linoleum floor. He glanced at his sister. Baleful green eyes glared at him from her orange, black, and white face. Callie’s fuzzy coat bristled her outrage.

“Come on, Callie. Don’t be such a baby. Eat with me,” Tiger mewled to her. Callie sat up, shook her tousled calico coat, and rushed back to the bowl. She squeezed between him and her black-and-white brother, who cuffed her with a strong white paw.

“Callie, you’re a hog.”

“You never saw a hog so how do you know I am one?” Callie retorted.

“Mama told me,” Tux insisted. She ignored Tux, and dove into the food.

“Mama said hogs are pigs, and they are big animals that like to eat anything,” Tiger added, then lapped up food. Behind Tiger, his mother lay back down, and purred approval.

Days passed. One morning broke hot and humid. Tiger drank water, and greedily ate his breakfast. He ran to his mother and tried to nurse, but found no milk flowing. He mewled his disappointment.

“What a baby you are,” Tux said, smacking him with a white paw. “Mama has no more milk. Hasn’t for days and days.”

“So? I can try, can’t I?” Tiger hissed, and jumped on his brother. They wrestled in glee, careening around the kittening box, tumbling out onto the wooden floor. They chased each other around the room, then finally collapsed beside their mother. She groomed both frazzled kittens, and Tiger purred, enjoying the relaxation.

The doorbell chimed suddenly, interrupting the quiet morning. The two family dogs erupted into full ruckus. As the big gentle German Shepherd barked, and his tiny Pomeranian companion yapped shrilly, a woman walked into the room where the nest lay. Duchess uttered a low growl, eyeing the two dogs, who wagged their tails but dared not enter the room. Duchess resumed purring as the stranger cooed over Tiger’s siblings, and patted Tiger’s head.

“This calico and the tuxedo are beautiful. That poor tabby, however, is quite cow-hocked. He may even have problems with his hips.” The woman picked up Callie and Tux. “I will take both.”

“Mama! Tiger! I’m scared!” Callie mewled her fright. Tux merely purred, hanging limp in the woman’s grasp.

“Do not fear, my baby Callie,” Duchess purred soothingly. “This will be your new momma. Do not fear.”

“Poor little one,” the woman crooned to Callie. “I will love you. Don’t fear.”

Callie quieted down, then the soft-spoken woman whisked her and her brother away. Tux called out once.

“Hope you get a good home, too, Tiger!”

Tiger gazed at his mother as the dogs quieted down.

“I have a good home.” Tiger flicked his tall ears. “What is cow hocks?”

“I am not sure, little one,” Duchess answered, sadness in her tone. “But I believe it has something to do with your back legs.”

“I feel fine.” Tiger tilted his head.

“I know,” Duchess licked his ears. “Do not worry about it. Eat, and be strong. You are so big now. My big boy.”

Tiger ate his meal, finishing every speck, which had changed in texture over the last few days from mostly milk to a more strong-smelling mushed meat. Time passed, and no more strangers arrived to see Tiger. His mother groomed him with pride, and Tiger thought perhaps he might stay with his mother. One morning, Duchess groomed him, pride in every stroke of her rough tongue.

“You are so big!” Duchess purred to him. “I think you will be like Big Mike, your sire. What a handsome Tom he is.”

Tiger enjoyed his life, trying not to dwell on what the visitor said about his legs. One evening, the neighbor woman arrived, bringing a huge brown tabby on a leash. Duchess eagerly greeted the gentle male Maine Coon.

“Tiger! This is your sire. Oh, so big and handsome!” she purred, rubbing her body along his. Tiger watched Big Mike with awe, then approached, his tail rising above his back, curving over like a giant furry candy cane. He sniffed the tom’s nose.

“Fine boy,” Big Mike purred, and sniffed Tiger’s nose. “I am surprised he is here. You are keeping him?”

"I hope so." Duchess twitched her tail. "Nobody has come to take him away. My momma may let him stay with us."

"Play?" Tiger asked.

Big Mike's face broke into a feline smile, eyes closed, whiskers forward as he blinked.

"Yes!" The Maine Coon tom romped with Tiger, gentle and careful. Tiger chased his father's tail, jumped on his back, wrestling him in delight. The dogs joined in, respectful of Big Mike's huge-clawed paws. The children laughed, and Tiger thought this a most wonderful day. Finally, Big Mike sat down beside Duchess. The dogs lay down, panting, and the children left for other interests.

"Rest, young one," he purred. "I am tired."

Tiger snuggled between both his parents. He fell asleep, delighted with life, but dreamed unsettling images of misshapen hips and back legs.

Submitted: March 15, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Marie J. S. Phillips. All rights reserved.

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