The house next to mine is occupied by transients. I have not seen the owner yet in the past four years, yet there are those who treat it as their own and occupy it with equanimity. One of them in fact, treats it as her safe house and comes there when she needs protection for her young. I refer to cat who has had more than one set of kittens there. I am not much of a cat person. I love all animals, but dogs are my thing. ( Yes, I would have loved to have an elephant, had size, the government and my pocket permitted it.) So while I would often admire how the mother cat took care of her young, it was a long distance relationship.
A month ago, (give or take a few days) I saw her again looking full figured and lethargic and knew that she was due for another litter. I saw her on and off again and did not think much of it. Six days ago I heard some mewling that seemed more strident and unrelenting than normal. Going around, I saw three cute kittens who kooked like they were searching for something. They seemed too small to be making their way into the wide world, and yet the mom was no where to be seen. I shooed them back into the house to save them from predators, but the mewling was unabated through the night. Finding that unusual, I just went over and they all ran helter skelter, hiding in corners and watching me with great mistrust. Wondering why the mother had not come to defend her young, and on the off chance that they were hungry and hence mewling, I put two saucers of milk in a corner and left. Watching from a distance, I saw them make their way unsteadily to the saucer and lap the milk hungrily. That day there was no mewling. Come evening, I put out some more milk and by the morning I noticed that it was lapped up.
Cats are excellent mothers and I think their mother has had something terrible happen to her, for her to be a no show! The thing is though, they trust no one and nothing (good survival instincts; those!!) and so they will hopefully survive. Eventually, they must learn to fend for themselves too. Human babies are the ones that need looking after eternally. ( I regress, every time I see my mom).When they fend or themselves, they will go their separate ways, as do we all. Till then, they have each other!