I heard it while I was in the garden.
It wasn’t my first time to hear it…. No, I’d heard it before, a week ago, coming from my neighbor’s shed. But, this time, it sounded like it was coming from the opposite direction…from my other nextdoor neighbor’s yard.
Our backyard fence separates the three yards. And, with two doxies running loose in the back yard at any given time, it’s not safe kits or kittens.
I ignored the cry, assuming the kitten’s mother would return to the kitten, or for it.
But, throughout the day, the kitten’s mewling cry could be heard.
Daughter, upon arriving home from work, heard the cry and investigated. A fuzzy gray kitten, no more than 3 weeks of age, was under a bush in our neighbor’s yard…alone. Daughter picked it up and brought it into the house.
“I don’t want a kitten!” she stammered as she entered the house.
“Me either!” I stated. And, I suggested she return it so the mother could find it.
She did so and looked around for other kittens, but finding none, tucked it under the bush from which she’d plucked it and returned inside.
It was hard for her to walk away from it. Concern for the welfare of the kitten burned within her.
I knew. I felt it, too.
But, she knew as well as I that we could not give the kitten ’round the clock care and were not equipped to meet its needs. Its mother would just have to return. She would have to…the kitten would die if she didn’t.
Rain fell and still the kitten mewed from beneath the bush.
Late evening, with flashlight in hand, I stepped into my back yard and stood quietly listening.
And, there…I heard it again. The low mewling cry of a kitten calling for its mother. Calling out “I’m here! I’m hungry! I’m alone!”
I paused briefly and then slipped through the gate and into the side yard where the kitten cried. With flashlight in hand, I searched under the bushes for the mewling baby, but found nothing.
And, still it cried.
Had I found it, I’ve no idea what I would have done. I turned around to walk back to the house and heard a noise in the same location I’d heard the mewling kitten. It was larger than a tiny kitten would make…a soft scuffling in dry leaves similar to the sound a cat would make. The mewing stopped immediately.
Perhaps Momma had arrived. Perhaps something else had. Not wishing to scare off the mother (if indeed it was the mother), and knowing that if it wasn’t the mother there was nothing I could now do, I slipped back to the house.
And, even now…at the stroke of midnight as I write this, my mind remembers the mewling of the kitten and my heart condemns me for not insisting Daughter keep the kitten in the house – for not seeking until I found it – for not making sure it was the mother and not a predator.
But, I know how feral cats are and I know that the mother could have been sitting in the darkness watching me…waiting for me to move away so she could attend to her kitten.
It’s hard to know what to do…if to do.
Excuse me…I’m going to see if the mewling has stopped. If I hear it…I’ll be concerned. And, if I don’t…I’ll still be concerned. Perhaps I should just remain inside and silence the concerns that plague me.
I did step outside. All was quiet.
This morning early, Daughter slipped outside to listen. Hearing no mewing, she walked to the bush under which she’d found the kitten and paused. She looked back at me and shrugged. She’d heard nothing.
Is the kitten still there? Did Momma Cat visit in the night and take the kitten away? Did something else? Is Momma Cat with the kitten now, tucked up under a bush? Is it now too weak to mew?
I don’t know the answers to those questions.
But, I do know (and Daughter can verify) that as Daughter walked back toward the front porch, she and I heard what appeared to be a mewling kitten – loud and demanding – coming from across the street in a row of bushes.
“Did you hear that?” Daughter asked. “Was that a kitten mewing or a bird chirping?” I’d heard it and I wasn’t sure which it was. It sounded an awful lot like the mewling of the kitten.
It’s difficult to know what to do in situations like this. Do you interfere? Do you let nature take its course? Do you walk away and say “not my problem.” Do you weigh the results against the time and effort involved…?
It’s a life. What is our responsibility as humans when it comes to protecting life? especially helpless life?
My mind is full of questions this morning and few answers.
I welcome your thoughts. I’m going to step outside and listen.