I should tell you that the final photo in this story depicts some ittybittykitty-gruesomeness. If you are a lover of rodents, I suggest you stop reading!
Now. Let us begin the tale of vent-kitty.
A stray cat showed up on our farm last winter, and not wanting this poor creature to die out in the frozen wasteland, we brought it inside and gave it a warm place to sleep for awhile. After the temperature warmed up, we put her back outside to become our first official barn cat.
One morning, Tad and I groggily woke up and wandered into the kitchen. We thought we had heard something scurrying underneath our floor, but we chalked it up to our freshly woken ears not working correctly.
As we wiped the sleep from our eyes, a white blur busted out of our floor vent and landed in the middle of the kitchen. I think I jumped 10 feet in the air.
You see, vent-kitty (who we still have not given an adequate name) did not really agree that she should be a barn cat. She managed to find a hole in our ventilation system under our house and decided to go on an adventure. And subsequently give us a heartattack at 7 in the morning.
Ever since then, vent-kitty has used our still un-mended ventilation hole for access into the house so it became a common thing for us to have a cat bursting out of our floors.
Figuring that this had to stop, mostly in order to prevent less fuzzy and adorable things from entering our house, Tad began trying to find the hole she used to enter and exit.
Of course only after we started trying to fix this problem, we noticed vent-kitty was very, very pregnant. We tried keeping her in the house, but she would only stay long enough to get a bite to eat and then slip down into our floors, no matter how much we tried to prevent her from prying up the vent cover. So the mending of the vents was postponed until she gave birth to her kitties, and we could make sure that she was not actually inside the vents when they were sealed off.
Not entirely understanding how short of a gestation time a cat has, we were surprised one day when vent-kitty popped up into our kitchen... very much no longer pregnant. We had no idea where she had chosen to have her litter, until I walked into our master bathroom and heard the pathetic little cries of baby kitties... coming from under our bathtub.
After an investigation, we deduced that she had found a hole under the house next to the piping for the tub, crawled up onto our subfloor area, and had her litter in the safest space she thought possible. We couldn't get to them, despite our many attempts, and so we dealt with hearing little kitty mews every time we went into our bathroom.
While Tad was away at work one day, and I was cleaning the bathroom, I heard the usual sound of something brushing against the metal of the vents. Thinking it was just vent-kitty, I paid no mind. Because, crazy as it may seem, a cat crawling out of our floor had become the norm around here.
Soon, however, I noticed that the sound was much lighter and more telling of something smaller rustling around. Cautiously I lifted up our vent cover and peered into it, fully expecting to have something attach itself to my face. It was then that I heard a tiny kitty mew, coming from the subfloor area around the vent. So I bent back the metal and saw some ittybitty kitty eyes staring at me.
|Momma-vent-kitty looking at the area the kitties were plucked from|
Tad came home, and I showed him my achievement for the day. As we were sitting there watching them crawl all over momma-vent-kitty, we heard more sounds from under the floor. Soon, two more black kitties were snatched out and added to the total.
Tad and I celebrated over conquering the kitty extraction, and we closed the doors to leave momma-vent-kitty and her little ones alone for awhile. A few hours later, as we were sitting on our couch, she popped out of the floor in our kitchen. Initially we thought nothing of it. But soon we realized that she had lifted the cover off of the vent opening in the bathroom, since the door to the bathroom had been closed.
We raced to the bathroom, but we were too late. All five of the kitties had descended into the depths of either the subfloor or the vents. It was then that my worst fears were realized.
We did not acquire 5 more barn cats. What we got was 5 more vent kitties. Popping out of our floors day and night, 12 months a year.
I stayed up pretty late that night, face to the floor, calling sweetly for the kitties to come to my voice. In retrospect, I definitely looked a little insane. Eventually I managed to snag the runt of the litter out of the subfloor area, but after an hour, he was the only one I found. I gave up and tried to get some sleep, but after only a few minutes I heard the rustling of momma-vent-kitty coming to the bathroom.
As she emerged, I thought about how I would explain that I lost all but one of her babies. How could I tell her that extracting them from the subfloor was the biggest mistake I had ever made, after she trusted us with her offspring? Before I could get out the confession, I heard a trail of tiny paws coming towards me. Looking down into the vents, a line of four little kitties appeared. I plucked each one out in succession. All five kitties were now happily crawling over momma.
The kitties were then put into our bathtub, which is large and has steep, slippery sides that they could not get out of. That way, when momma-vent-kitty decided she wanted to leave the bathroom, we would not have another incident of all her babes following her into the depths under our house. They were all a little distressed at first, and momma-vent-kitty kept trying to remedy the problem by attempting to take them out of the tub and back into the vents. Needless to say, this resulted in me spending an extra few hours intercepting momma-vent-kitty from trying to deposit them back inside of our floors.
Eventually they calmed down and became used to tub-life, and they have been living happily in the bathtub since the extraction. But last night as I walked in, I thought things had taken a turn for the worst. Little kitty growls were going on in the tub, something I had never heard before. As I peaked over the side, I saw blood smeared all over, and I quickly counted them to make sure they were all still alive while wondering what could have happened.
Sibling rivalry? Was there something sharp they could have cut themselves on? Did one of the dogs manage to sneak in and play too hard with them? Did something more vicious finally pop out of the vents only to find a tub full of little snacks?
Sometimes I get a little over-dramatic. Obviously.
As my mind raced, I noticed momma-vent-kitty laying calmly on the bathroom floor, which seemed odd. Some unpleasant sounds were coming from her litter, and she was not concerned! Turning back to the tub, I discovered the source of the blood:
Momma-vent-kitty had decided it was time to start weaning them. So she had gone out, hunted a mouse, brought it through our vents, popped out of the bathroom floor, and dropped the dead thing into our tub as a snack for them.
The kitties were totally vicious, but it was so fascinating! After getting a picture, Tad and I decided we did not want to clean up an eviserated mouse from the bathtub and took it away from them. Since they were obviously ready to eat something more substantial than mom's milk, we gave them all some kitty food which they happily devoured with their newfound appetite.
Soon, we will be moving them all out into the barn and sealing up the vents once and for all. I really, really do not want 6 cats coming out of our floors.