34: Daddy Cat Steps Up

34: Daddy Cat Steps Up

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Daddy Cat Steps Up

There is, indeed, no single quality of the cat that man could not emulate to his advantage.

~Carl Van Vechten

Males are just not nurturers. Well, that’s what I thought as a young single mother whose ex-husband was seldom present in the lives of her children. It took a special tomcat to convince me otherwise.

Momma Cat had had five kittens, but one died shortly after birth. She was an outside cat and the skinniest, puniest one I’d ever seen. I could not imagine how she could keep herself alive much less four helpless kittens, but she and they were doing well. No thanks to Daddy Cat who pretty much ignored both kittens and Momma, but was Johnny on the Spot when I poured the cat food. Weeks went by and the kittens’ eyes opened. They began to move around the back porch and explore. Just about the time they were being weaned, Momma Cat was killed on the road in front of the house.

I could not imagine how the kittens would survive without her around to protect them, care for them, and supplement the kitten food they were beginning to eat. During the day I had a job and my kids had school. Who would care for them all those hours we had to be away? They were in the rambunctious stage that kittens go through — fast on their feet and into everything.

The first morning we left them, I worried all day about what we’d find when we returned home. Imagine my surprise that afternoon when we drove up and found Daddy Cat curled up with his four kittens on the back porch.

Over the next weeks I was amazed at how well he looked after his offspring. He groomed them, let them climb all over him, and corrected them when they went too far in their play. He treated them a little rougher than Momma Cat had, but they did not suffer for it. They thrived, learned to hunt, and grew into excellent mousers.

As for me, I no longer felt that men couldn’t nurture their children just as well as women. Seeing Daddy Cat lick those kittens’ ears, cuddle with them for naps, and cuff them when they bit his tail one too many times, showed me that all that’s necessary is a willingness to love and put someone else’s needs before your own. And if that can be found in the males of the animal world, then human males can do it too.

~Karen Teigen

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