Teaching collective nouns is fun! Everyday terms such as ‘a hive of bees’, ‘gaggle of geese’, ‘panel of experts’; and the more unusual: ‘a murder of crows’, ‘a parliament of owls’ and ‘a caravan of camels’ can be amusing to discuss. Asking students to come up with their own versions of collectives may result in some surprises: ‘a mess of freshmen’, ‘a disapproval of teachers’, or ‘a misery of test scores’ gives insight into the minds of our students.
Today I looked up Cats and found (of course) ‘a litter of kittens’, but also the archaic phrase, ‘a clowder of cats’ and even better ‘a clutter of cats’. This leads me to consider the main cat room at With a Little Help From My Friends! Imagine, if you will, popcorn popping in a large pan. Kernels jumping up, down, and sideways; a fluffy pile of warm energy piling up upon itself until the pan seems alive with action and reaction. Quiet heaps of kernels, kernels piling up and falling over into new configurations…you get the picture!
So, not to push the food metaphor too far, that is the scene at the Center these days. Instead of popcorn, we have kittens—but the action is remarkably similar. Piles of kittens, kittens leaping, pouncing, stalking, climbing and falling, rolling on the ground in untidy heaps and falling asleep unexpectedly in precarious positions, becoming, collectively ‘a cuddle of kittens’! It is a scene that I cannot adequately describe; one that must be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Today during my “cleaning” shift, I spent more time watching and laughing than scrubbing and mopping. Cleaning consisted mostly of sitting on the floor with piles of kittens in my lap. I did do some scootching around, so perhaps part of the floor ended up a little cleaner…but mostly I watched and enjoyed the small wonders we have in our care. Currently we have ten kittens ranging in age from 10weeks to 6 months. How quickly things change during kitten season. Just last month we referred to our babies such as Raven, Carl and Wink as kittens.
Now they have made the transition to youngsters, or teenagers. The influx of true babies just out of the bottle-feeding or nursing stage is astonishing. We have five true babies, three juvies and two teens (Raven was adopted) the atmosphere in the main cat room fairly vibrates with energy. The scene is delightful, but when considered in the cold light of reality, confounding. For years and years, animal welfare organizations have preached the virtues of spaying and neutering our pets. The benefits are endless…longer, healthier life spans, fewer midnight serenades from amorous cat couples, less scent marking, and most critically, fewer litters of kittens who must then be adopted to loving homes. The sad truth is that many of these kittens end up in municipal shelters and face the long wait for their forever home. In some communities, that wait is fruitless and the results tragic. The lucky ones end up in facilities such as the Center where they spend their days engaged in playful interactions with cats of all ages and are petted and cooed over by loving caregivers. Someday we animal caregivers hope to be superannuated when all kittens (puppies too!) who come into the world are eagerly awaited by loving families. I pray I will see that day in my lifetime.
Meanwhile, we are awash with kitten energy and, as always, our hearts overflow with affection for these tiny beings whose lives are in our hands. Come to the shelter and see our ‘brood’ of babies, our ‘kaboodle’ of kittens! Hold one or two in your arms and see if you can resist—I know I cannot. Like a more mature feline experience? Grown-up cats such as Stella, Fletcher and Tucker are standing by and ready for some lap action. Help of all sorts is gladly accepted. Kitten cuddling, cat petting, help with cleaning and laundry, dog walking and socializing…the opportunities are many; the rewards are great! An easy way to help our furbabies is to sign up for “Smile Amazon.” If you are an Amazon shopper you can designate With a Little Help From My Friends as the recipient of a percentage of your purchases. It costs you nothing and provides much needed funds for the running of the Center. The frenzy of summer is over, the richness of fall is upon us—come and share in our ‘bounty’ of great animal companions. We are ready and waiting for visitors and adopters alike.
P.S. On Friday we joyfully watched as Buddy the Beagle went to his forever home with a doggy smile and a wag! Congratulations to his new family.