Bombshell Episode of June 2010:
Halftail Gives Birth!
Previously on Y&F......
... on an elevated porch in Queens, a small group of feral cats: Charlie, a large tuxedo male, clearly the Alpha, his two tabby male friends, Snake and Also, and his wife, Sylvia, a beautiful, long-haired tabby with bushy tail. They are shivering and cold, the sky is gray, the wind whipping. They stare through the casement window at the house's 83 year old owner, Aunt Betty, who comes out with a plate of tuna. A car pulls up in front. A woman with wild hair jumps out carrying a large plastic bin and ascends the stairs. She sets the bin down on the porch. The bin is a state of the art, triple-insulated cat shelter designed by Ashot, master cat shelter engineer, and purchased especially for this family in crisis. The cats bypass the tuna and go directly into the shelter. They snuggle together, finally warm. Sylvia puts her head on Charlie's shoulder and purrs.
Snow is falling on the shelter. Sylvia looks out the shelter hole. She is wheezing and short of breath. Close up on her left ear. It is in tact. She has not been TNRed*. Quick edits to 1, 2, 3 different litters of kittens in Sylvia's past. A humane cat trap sits nearby on the porch. Two women sit in a car parked at the
curb, watching. Sylvia eyes the tuna deep inside the trap, licking her lips. She is very hungry. She can't resist. She goes in the trap. The door shuts behind her. She is trapped, shocked, appalled, and fights to get out. "Help!" she screams as the two women jump out of the car, grab the trap and take Sylvia away.
Sylvia is in recovery from spaying. Her left ear is clipped*. Ashot is giving her medicine, speaking on the phone: "She has a bad respiratory infection and will have to stay for two weeks. She can't go back in this condition!"
(Caption: 1 week later) Sylvia is no longer wheezing. A tall, good looking gray & white male cat with a clipped ear stands by her recovery cage. They nose each other through the wire. Ashot on the phone: "My Tommy loves her! He wants her to stay here!" A loud voice from the phone: "What?! Sylvia can't stay with Tommy!
She has a husband! Charlie is waiting for her!"
Charlie is alone on his porch. Or is he? A small gray female no more than 8 months old with half a tail appears, sidles up to Charlie. She butts his chin with her head and twitches her half tail under his nose.
Sylvia is delivered back to her porch. She finds Halftail in her house. Sylvia dejectedly descends the porch and walks up the street. Halftail emerges from the shelter. She is bulging on both sides, pregnant. Charlie sits nearby. He looks sadly after Sylvia. Close up on Charlie's ear. It is clipped. He ain't nobody's babydaddy!
CUT. MUSIC ENDS. FADE UP ON TODAY'S EPISODE:
A beautiful spring morning. A woman with wild hair walks out her door and down the block. On her way, she passes a long-haired tabby cat with a bushy tail.
Jane: "lo Sylvia."
Jane: "Stop blaming me, Sylvia. Come up later for breakfast."
A voice from ahead and above, Nancy the neighbor, cries out: "Oh thank God you're here! I've been banging on your aunt's window for half an hour. There's a baby kitten just born on the ground there. I picked him up and put him near the little house, but I don't know what to do for him." Nancy gestures to the cat shelter on Aunt Betty's adjoining porch.
Jane ascends the stairs, picks up the infant kitten, a tiny, squirming, all black thing, just born.
Kitten: "MEOW! MEOW! MEW! OW!"
Jane leans over, looks in the shelter. Halftail is in the shelter nursing three kittens, two all black, one black & white, all quiet.
Nancy: "What's he DOING outside of the HOUSE?"
Kitten: "MEOW! MEOW! MEW! OW!"
Jane: "I don't know. Either he was born out here and she hasn't brought him in yet, or she's rejecting him. We can't leave him like this."
Jane pounds on Aunt Betty's door, kitten cupped in her other hand. "Betty! Wake up! You've got kittens!"
Kitten: "MEOW! MEOW! MEW! OW!"
Jane and Aunt Betty sit on the porch. Rejected kitten is in a paper towel bunting on Jane's lap. He sucks a miniature bottle. He has a milk moustache and beard. His head is the size of a walnut.
Aunt Betty: "What are we going to DO with him? I can't raise a baby KITTEN and feed it every two HOURS! I'm 84 years old and running from one end of Queens to the other night and day for cats!"
Jane: "We wait until she goes for a walk and then put him with the other kittens. O look at da bebbeee ohhh da cute da ooooo! I'm going to call you Mouse... who's got da littah mousy face!"
Aunt Betty: "What happens when they start walking and come out of that shelter?! They'll fall down the stairs! They'll roll over the side! OMG."
Halftail emerges from the shelter, stretches, descends the porch stairs. She waits a minute, then walks up the street.
Halftail: "Leemee alone. I did what I had to do for my children. Nobody made you leave."
Sylvia: "They did too!"
Jane, Nancy, Aunt Betty watch Halftail disappear up the block on her walk. Jane tiptoes over, looking left and right. She puts Mouse in the shelter with the other sleeping kittens, making sure to mix them up well, so their scent is all the same. Mouse is quiet.
(20 min. later)
Halftail's gray head appears over the top step. Nancy, Jane, Aunt Betty hold their breath. Halftail sniffs the shelter, goes inside. Minutes go by. All is quiet. Jane tiptoes across the porch, looks inside the shelter. All 4 kittens are snuggling with Mom. Mouse has been accepted.
Sylvia's head appears over the top step. She looks into the shelter, squints, growls.
DRAMATIC MUSIC. CUT TO CREDITS.
based on the real life events of the feral cats of our block in Queens.
Starring Jane Denny (as herself)
Aunt Betty (as herself)
Ashot (as himself)
Neighbor Nancy (as herself)
Charlie, Snake and Also (themselves)
TOMORROW ON THE YOUNG AND THE FERAL....
.... Hands over a keyboard, furiously typing. On the screen of an old iMac computer the words appear: "URGENT POST. MOMCAT and 4 INFANT KITTENS in QUEENS NEED FOSTER CARE ASAP. The place they have chosen to call home is an elevated porch, 15 steps to the ground, surrounded by a balustraded wall with many openings a baby cat could fall through! We have made a temporary barrier that Mom can get over, but babies can't if they tumble out. They're fine now, but this will be a danger when they start toddling (kittens were born 5/30/2010). They need a foster home where they will be together and safe inside until they can be adopted. No "rescues" or vets will take them.... what else is new. Signed, two asthmatics overrun with cats, living on pills and puffers! We'll provide food, spay/neuter and adoption efforts. If you have a big heart and a spare room, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (PS: if Halftail is fostered, Sylvia might get her place and her husband back!)
Narrator: Will Halftail continue to be a good Mom? Will Sylvia try to hurt the babies? Will the babies tumble out of their shelter and down the steps? Will some loving person open their heart and home to Halftail, Mouse and Co.? Stay tuned to The Young and The Feral.
* TNR = trap, neuter/spay, return. A humane solution to feral cat overpopulation. TNRed cats are identified by a small piece clipped off the end of the left ear.