The day started out with excitement (the good kind) as the children discovered that 2 of the week old kittens had opened their eyes.
Everyone passed them around, and we commented on how proud the mama cat, Priscilla, seemed.
Then our neighbor came over to ask if he could borrow our son for some fence repair. While the men worked, I chatted with the neighbor about whether he might want a kitten when they are weaned, and he remarked that his German Shepherd had killed every cat they had ever tried to keep.
That's when there was more excitement (the bad kind).
It turns out that his German Shepherd had followed him to our house and found our mama cat. Priscilla had evidently refused to leave her kittens and run to safety, so the dog did what he had done in the past to all the other cats he had caught.
We must have found her mere moments later because she was still breathing and trying desperately to get to her kittens.
My husband and I quickly ushered the children away from the gruesome scene and discussed whether we should put her down or let nature take its course. By the time we had decided what to do, she was already dead.
It is interesting how the different witnesses reacted to this sad tragedy.
The neighbors were so sorry and offered to try to compensate us for the loss. Of course, we didn't hold them responsible.
My 10 year old, the midwife to the mama cat, was hysterical. She blamed herself. "If only I had been there. I should have been there. It's all my fault! WHY wasn't I there?!" she wailed over and over again.
I wanted to fix everything. "It's okay. Everything will be okay," I lied.
One child blamed the dog and wished harm upon it. He even expressed an interest in bringing about that harm himself.
One child blamed me because everyone knows that mamas are supposed to protect their children from bad things, and this was a Very Bad Thing.
Daddy and Brother dug a grave. Again.
Mama and Midwife went to buy some tiny bottles and kitten formula.
And now we have a box of baby kittens inside, where I never intended them to be...
...and some sad children who are determined to care for them.