They were an unlikely pair -- she, an adult Maine Coon, sleek and dignified, elegant and graceful in all of her movements -- he, a young, immature grey tomcat, large and boisterous, playful and quick moving.

 

 griz_posing  When they joined our household a year apart, I had no idea what was in store for all of us.

  They nevertheless fell in love, and eventually it became obvious that Griz was pregnant.  I'd never had a pregnant cat, so I consulted the vet for all the details on what I needed to know, and do, when the time came for her to give birth.  His advice was, basically, provide her with a safe, comfortable place and then get out of her way, letting Mother Nature take over.

  Griz went into labour on a Sunday morning, just as we were preparing to leave for church.  I hoped witnessing a miracle might take precedence over attendance at Mass just this once, so I decided to allow our sons to stay home.

  The area beside our claw-foot tub had been chosen by Griz as her labour room, so we prepared a nice soft bed of fluffy towels for her. She seemed uncomfortable, and I wished I could do something for her, but the vet's advice stayed with me, and I resumed my role as bystander.

  Gus, however, had not heard the vet's advice, and would not have heeded it anyway.  The love of his life was in pain, and he comforted her as best he could.  He'd go in there and lick her face as if to say, "I'm here, Griz, and I'll be by your side every step of the way."

We've all heard of expectant fathers pacing the floor in Maternity wards, and Gus did the same, checking in with Griz frequently, softly petting her with his paw.

  The hours passed, and finally the first kitten was born -- how cool was that?  Gus helped Griz clean the little creature, as he did with the other three she eventually produced.  I'd been hesitant at first to allow him near the kittens because I'd heard of some males eating their young, but he was always such a loving cat that I took the chance.

In any event, I don't think I'd have been able to keep him away.

  Griz was exhausted from her long labor and delivery, as we all were from keeping watch, so everyone slept.

 exhausted_gus   Over the next few days, the extent of Gus' devotion soon became apparent.  He would curl up beside Griz when she nursed the kittens, like  he just wanted to keep her company and be close to her and his little family.  When it looked like Griz needed a break from mothering, Gus would take her place, curling on his side and allowing the kittens to cuddle up against him.  He'd remain in that position for extended periods of time, only leaving when one of the kittens tried to nurse.  He'd stand up quickly as if to say, "I'll babysit, but the nursing stuff is OUT!"

  I'd often find them all asleep together, Mom and Dad curled tightly around their babies, all snug and safe in a warm cocoon of feline fur.

family_comforter   Gus and Griz groomed the kittens together, washing those adorable little faces and holding down a reluctant participant with a firm but gentle paw.

  When I took Griz to the vet for her check-up, I mentioned what a great help Gus was with the kittens, and I asked if that was normal for a male cat, since I'd never had experience with a cat "couple." He said he'd never heard of anything like it!

  The kittens eventually went to good homes, and their parents seemed to accept their departures with a minimum of fuss, resuming the routine that had been normal for them before childbirth (well, kittenbirth!) Their lives were uneventful for a few years, until Gus became ill.

  The diagnosis of cancer was a blow to us all, but I vowed that we'd fight this thing with everything we had.  On the days when he was feeling low, Griz comforted him, as he'd once done for her. Gussie fought the good fight, but we lost him when he was only four and a half years old.

  Griz was inconsolable, and her pitiful cries could be heard all over the house, as she searched for her faithful companion.  She never stopped looking for him, and would spend hours looking out the windows, waiting by the door, peering into his favourite hiding places.  She was no longer interested in playing with their toys, and her shiny coat became dull.  When she began losing weight, I took her to the vet, who could find nothing physically wrong with her.  He said some cats just give up when their companion dies.

  Griz died a year after Gus -- the vet described the cause of death as a broken heart.  Although I was devastated, I knew she no longer mourned for him.  I believe they're together at the Rainbow Bridge, joyous at their reunion, enjoying time with their kittens and grandkittens and great-grandkittens.

 

by  Bobbie Hahn <bobbi@bobbihahn.com >

 

 

Bobbi is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, John, and two cats, Mozart and Annabelle, beside a lagoon on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina.  She is a frequent contributor to Heartwarmers and Petwarmers.  More of her work can be seen on her website:

 

http://www.bobbihahn.com

 

 This story appeared in Petwarmers and is printed here with kind permission from the author, Bobbie Hahn

 


A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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