Molly and her sister showed up outside my house — along with their mother — several years ago. I don’t know where they were from, but they were all skittish enough that I assume the mother was a stray. One day, the mother cat disappeared, leaving just two bewildered kittens mewing on my porch.
The picture on the top of the three to the right is the only one I have of the kittens with their mother, because I couldn’t get close enough to get anything better than this. When she disappeared, I didn’t know what to do, because the kittens wouldn’t even let me get close to them. Unfortunately, it was the time of year that it was starting to get cold outside. (You’ll notice a Halloween pumpkin at the bottom of the picture with their mother.)
I started feeding the kittens quickly, but I really started to get concerned when the mother didn’t return for several days. On the night when it was going to be the first freeze of the season around here, I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to try to catch them.
I’d like to say it was easy, but it was very difficult. I was able to lure them with food. I grabbed one of them while she was eating, but the other took off. (They look so much alike that I don’t know now which I caught first.) After a lot of luring and stealth, I caught the second one, but I ended up bloodied by pretty little teeth and claws.
The two kittens were pretty much identical except for the width of the white strip on their noses. Molly has a wide white vertical strip. Her sister, Bessie, has a narrow vertical strip. They were both small, but their mother was tiny, too. Even as adults, Molly and Bessie weigh only 5 pounds each.
I expected to find homes for them quickly and be out of the business of fostering kittens. After all, I already had enough of my own. I certainly wasn’t going to take it two more.
I started trying to find homes for them, but it was difficult. I’m really picky about what kind of homes I’ll allow animals to go to when I take them in and find homes, because I feel responsible. I was getting desperate, though, and a friend said he knew someone at a vet clinic who had a family looking for a kitten. I thought I’d found a home for one of them. I chose Molly for the new home and went off to meet them.
To be honest, I didn’t like the people. They were well-dressed and lived in a nice neighborhood in a nice house with expensive cars in the driveway. But something about them didn’t feel right. They said the right things, but I had a bad feeling. I should have listened to my gut.
I explained to them that the kittens had come from a stray and that they were very skittish. I said that they’d need a lot of patience and might not ever be lap cats. But they thought Molly was cute, so that was good enough for them.
At this point, I don’t remember how long it was before I heard from the guy. It was at least a couple of weeks, maybe a bit more. He showed up at my door unannounced with a box. They didn’t want Molly. He said she wouldn’t do anything except hide and run from his young daughter. There was something wrong with the cat, he said. She wasn’t “normal.”
I took her back, of course, and she seemed even more skittish than ever. She and her sister seemed happy to see each other and immediately curled up and both of them seemed comforted. They weren’t getting any more friendly. They were still scared of the world. They rarely even let me touch them. I determined that I wasn’t going to split them up again. Since they weren’t the cuddly things that act like typical, happy cats, I realized this meant I was going to have to keep both of them.
What I didn’t realize was that something else happened while Molly was away. I’ll never know the circumstances, but at some point, she was around an unneutered male cat — because I realized that she was pregnant.
Bringing more kittens into a world with too many already was the last thing I wanted to do, but I didn’t have much choice about it. Two years ago, in late June, she gave birth to four kittens. (Three of them survived and still live with me now, but that’s another story.)
Molly is still skittish. She rarely lets me touch her. She’s scared of the world. Hardly anybody else would put up with her or her sister, because they don’t do the typical loving, friendly cat things — ever. But I don’t blame her, because she started out her young life without her mother, without much to eat and without much hope. She’ll never really trust people, but at least she has a safe and loving home.