46: Magic’s Trick

46: Magic’s Trick

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

Magic’s Trick

Fun fact: A cat pregnancy lasts about sixty-three days. Most mother cats have three to five kittens per litter, but may have up to ten.

My husband Jim had stepped out onto the front porch to enjoy the cool September morning. And there she was: a beautiful, young black cat — sleek, shiny… and clearly hungry.

Jim came inside to tell me we needed to figure out what to do with her, since we weren’t going to let her stay with us. Jim had never been a fan of cats.

I hurried out to the porch. It had been more than forty years since I had a cat to call my own. As a girl, I’d almost always had kittens around, but after marrying I gave them up to please my husband. Seeing this little black beauty begging for food, my heart was instantly won over. I began thinking of names immediately.

The first name that came to mind was Magic. After all, she was black as a midnight sky, and came to us out of thin air, appearing on top of our little mountain in the middle of nowhere. Thus, it was settled, Magic Cat she was.

Several months went by, and she settled in just fine, spending many lovely hours on the front porch enjoying the beautiful Ozark fall weather. Winter came, and with it piles of snow. Magic tiptoed through the drifts like a pro, although I was sure it was her first experience with the magical white stuff.

In the cold winter months, she took up residence in my husband’s new shop building, close to the warm woodstove that he kept burning round the clock. Some days, she could be seen climbing over his fishing boat, sniffing out the corners and sleeping on the deck.

About February, I began to suspect that we might have kittens on the way. Magic’s little tummy was round and tight, and she was eating enough for two or three cats. I was excited beyond words. To have baby kittens to play with was a miracle to me. Jim, not so much. He grumbled and complained that we would be overrun with cats before we knew it. I just laughed and enjoyed the experience.

Spring came, and the weeks went by. Magic and I did a lot of porch sitting, and I’d rub her belly, feeling the kittens rolling around inside. We both were waiting for that magical moment when they would be born.

One warm spring morning, I went out to check on her. She’d been acting strange for a few days, hardly eating and acting anxious. I figured the babies were coming soon. Seeing me, she meowed plaintively. I watched her closely for an hour or so; she soon began looking rather frantic. The next thing I knew she made a beeline for our shop building on the hill. I followed her, hoping to witness the miracle of new birth. I’d read that mother cats picked out their birthing spot several days or even weeks prior to the birth.

With no hesitation, Magic leaped up onto the bass boat and went straight to the small dark cavern under the steering column. Calling Jim, I alerted him that it appeared we might have a situation. Jim’s bass boat is his pride and joy. I was quite certain he was not going to be happy about having a batch of kittens born there. By the time he made his way to the shop, the first baby was out. Soon, three more babies were born.

Jim was stunned that she had picked his boat as the nursery. It was fishing season, after all. The kittens would have to be relocated. He picked up a kitten and moved it to a box lined with soft towels. But Magic wouldn’t allow it. Magic immediately ran to the box, grabbed the kitten in her mouth and took it back to the boat cavity. Jim knew then that it was a lost cause.

Our Magic Cat was the proud — and very protective mother — of four beautiful, black kittens.

The bass would have to wait.

~Lynette Chambers

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