Posted by: deadmousediaries | May 2, 2016

News from the Path Valley Hotel, Episode #89: The Maternity Ward

It’s Spring and baby-making season here at the Path Valley Hotel. In an attempt to get one more stray mama cat under control, I opened a maternity ward for a sweet little tabby we call Baby Jack. The American Humane Society reports that the geometric implications of just one busy mother cat could result in 420,000 kittens being born in only seven years. On the chance that Baby Jack is that one cat, it’s good to know she’s off the streets.

It was obvious she was already full of baby cats when I brought her home but she made an amazingly smooth transition to hotel life. After two days in a large pet crate where she learned about indoor plumbing, she made herself quite comfortable on the sofa in my front room. I watched her belly wriggle while she soaked up the morning sun and I imagined her kids jostling for position. More likely, they were conspiring to keep her from napping too comfortably as babies often do. She radiated that zen-like smile that cats can get, signaling a level of contentment we humans rarely achieve. We simply don’t know how to let it happen and fail in our attempts to buy it at spas or on cruises. We even turn it into work and hot pursuit as we meditate our way toward it with the help of gurus. But my cat had only to embrace it.

Two weeks after checking in at the PVH, she presented me with three mounds of fur, two miniature variations of her striking pattern and one little all-black guy (or girl) tipped by a white paintbrush. I had explained the living arrangements to her after I offered her the master suite; she had a great box and clean blanket away from the litter box, all tucked away so she would have some privacy. When the babies came, she changed the rental agreement and I had to play hide and seek to find the trio. I found them wound around each other inside another box, plopped on top a pile of dog toys. How appropriate.

Needless to say the other PVH permanent residents, two dogs and two cats, have not been happy. (And for those among you who cohabitate with cats, youknow exactly how they show you their displeasure…)

Meanwhile on the back porch, a bird couple decided to set up residence in an old nest above the back door. For two days, every trip out the back door triggered a flurry of feathers. The birds flitted from perch to perch inside the porch, failing to find or choosing not to exit through the tear in the screen when they entered. The dogs loved the idea of pursuing aerial chew toys every time we went out. The two cats knocked everything off my counters in their scramble to watch that show from the window sills. In the end, the constant commotion must have been to much for the birds  because the couple moved off my porch without starting their family.

There are kittens in the front room, birds in the back, and in the attic? It wasn’t the patter of little mice feet I heard last week when the dog alarm went off. I caught the dogs watching the ceiling before they quieted down enough for me to hear the unmistakable rough scrapping of another critter sliding above me. I’m choosing to think it was only my blacksnake, not any of his more notorious relatives. I know how beneficial blacksnakes are and have even removed a few of them from harm’s way in recent years so I tried not to get too excited. Frequent sitings outside at the PVH and years of hearing them in my husband’s garage and shop has probably made me a little too comfortable with the thought of a blacksnake roaming overhead.

But there’s always a wrinkle. My friend Cathy rattled my confidence. “But what if it’s a mama snake?” she asked me. Hmmm. I Googled snake traps and am considering buying one after all, catch-and-release, of course. But baby snakes this summer?  That sounds like more great stories from the maternity ward waiting for another day!



  1. I don’t know that you have to worry about an indoor snake infestation. We had black snakes born in the attic but, except for the ones who came downstairs and got put out, they all went off to make their way in the world fairly soon.

    Happy Birthday Friday!

  2. More baby kitties! Yeah!!! It does sound like quite the adventure at the PVH. Keep it up and you’ll have to charge admission to the zoo! And, I don’t think I could get used to snakes……….you’re a better woman then me!! Thanks for making me smile!

  3. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! What a menagerie! But snakes, really? I’m with Karin. And to think, I keep saying I’m done with pets.

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