This newly written story is part of my Lilechka Tribute Series. It picks up where my previous story Princess Lila and I left off. This story is also my contribution to the worldwide #LightForPets Remember Me Thursday – the pet adoption day.
Princess Lila’s Last Gift: Lola and her Kittens
Her name at birth was Tiger Lily due to her striking tortoiseshell coloring. When I adopted her, somehow, the original name fell by the wayside and I called her Lily Cat, or affectionately, Lilechka. But as she grew, in that small body, covered with soft a silky fur, a great spirit started emerging. Without any effort, she became Princess Lila. She was my loyal and loving companion and super-familiar for almost 20 years.
Before leaving us, Lilechka left some precious gifts. One was the gift of love she poured out in her last days, hanging on for an extra day and night because she saw how deeply upset I was she may leave us. She masterminded her last days and the days after she would be gone with precision, and she made it happen in the exact way she wanted to go. Behind her, she left the lingering blessing of her love.
We realized all that only after the events of the end of April 2014 took place. At the time, things were moving so fast that there was not a moment when we could distance ourselves from what was happening to think and reflect.
Another of Princess Lila’s gifts was of a much more physical nature. This story is about that gift.
The winter of 2013-2014 was harsh. Snow and ice covered our yard and driveway most of the time. We had to constantly plow and clear the ice. For the first time ever, our car skidded and got stuck in the icy hilly driveway. It took us hours to crush the ice and get it moving again.
Only by the end of March the sun finally warmed up the land enough to melt the last ice and snow. By mid-April our garden started blooming with some early blooms and the sun was again in abundance. By then, the gentle spring rays sent enough warmth so that both birds and animals started feeling the call to bask in the sun.
Lilechka, who turned 19 on August 9th 2013, stayed inside all winter. She was always a small kitty, but that winter she slowly got thinner. When we purchased the house, one of the main attractions were the two spacious covered porches – in the front and in the back. Lilechka loved staying on a porch during all seasons to get some air and survey the neighborhood. Because of our climate, covered porches were a must, so she could come out whenever she pleased, regardless of the weather.
In her younger years, Lilechka was very adventurous. As she aged, she became more and more an indoor cat, preferring either to cuddle by a warm radiant heater, or to sleep on top of my desk, on her favorite pillow. But coming out for some fresh air and to lounge on the porch remained her sacred daily ritual.
That last winter she didn’t come out once. Instead, she tried to seek out the precious little sun wherever she could find it. She had taken to sleeping on the dining room rug, warmed up by the small rectangle of a morning sun.
She also ate less, often refusing to finish her food. We fed her a balanced diet of dry and healthy wet food, as well as frequent treats of chicken, turkey and deserts of cream or cream cheese. She always liked variety. But that winter she stopped eating dry food altogether. We understood that it was getting hard for her to chew and started putting her unfinished dry food dishes out in the back porch, in case some other kitty or animal needed food. We always found the dish licked clean, but we never met the invisible kitty responsible for that.
By spring, Lilechka was often leaving most of her wet food on the plate as well. We started putting her dishes out on the back porch more and more often. Same result – they always were cleaned to a shine. By April, we were feeding her almost exclusively with very finely minced, soft chicken because she was refusing any other food. She was leaving more and more on her plate, and we started getting worried. Perhaps we needed to change her diet? While we started exploring her diet options, we were observing her closely. She was extremely sensitive to pet clinics, and she was always extremely healthy, so we decided to hold off talking to a vet, unless we really had to.
Meanwhile, we continued putting out full dishes regularly, and the food on them disappeared overnight like a clockwork.
In mid-April, Lilechka started coming out to bask in the sun, sitting on the warm garden soil, among the first spring blooms. The weather was changing rapidly to some very pleasant, temperate one, and we hoped that as the summer drew nearer, Lilechka would be feeling better and better. Indeed, her appetite seemed to somewhat come back.
Once I observed her siting in the back garden, while two neighborhood kitties approached. One kitty was a gray tabby and another black. The visiting kitties were non-aggressive and they seemed shy. They stopped at a distance when they saw Lilechka. Then, there was some sort of silent exchange between the parties. Lilechka stared at them, while they stood and stared back. Then Lilechka produced a mew. The two kitties silently turned around and left our backyard.
One day, we had the door to the back porch semi-open, while cooking chicken. As the smells of chicken wafted into the air, we expected Lilechka to show up in the kitchen, as she always did when the delicious food smells tickled her delicate nose.
Instead of Lilechka, we suddenly saw a short-haired tabby in our back porch. She slowly approached the back door and stood at the threshold, expectantly. Lilechka showed up in the kitchen and again, there was a silent exchange between the two. Then the gray kitty backed off, but stayed in the back porch.
We gave Lilechka her finely minced chicken and then, we minced more chicken for the tabby, who patiently awaited her cut. She gobbled up everything on the plate with the ultrasound speed and looked up at us. “Can I have some more, please?” was saying her whole demeanor.
We gave her more. She finished the second round just as quickly, but stayed on the porch. When Lilechka ate her fill, we gave the gray kitty Lily’s leftovers, and she finished that off as well.
She remained on the porch, looking at me with her big, intelligent eyes, still hoping for more.
“Sorry,” I said. “We didn’t count on a guest. There is no more chicken left. Come back tomorrow.”
She left reluctantly. That night I put out a full dish of dry food. By the morning it was all gone. Again, we made fresh chicken for Lilechka, hoping that the new diet would make her stronger and she would recover. Indeed it seemed the case. She was eating better, went out more and seemed to get stronger.
The gray tabby showed up again, and again we gave her some chicken and dry food. She kept coming back day after day, eating everything we gave her, be it dry or wet food, or chicken, with equally ravenous hunger.
One day, Lilechka finished her meal and decided to come out to sit in the back garden. The gray kitty, as usual, was hanging out in the back porch. Lilechka emitted a mew, meaning basically, “Hey, it’s still my property; do you mind?”
Again, there was a silent exchange between them, which I understood fully only after what happened later. Lilechka was saying, “I am still here. You can come and eat, but you cannot take over until I am gone. Remember, it’s still my domain.”
The tabby understood and backed into a far away corner of the porch, where she awaited her cut.
After I made sure Lilechka was comfortable in the garden, I turned to the gray. “Now it’s your turn.” Filling up her plate, I added quietly, “You are welcome to come here and eat any time, sweetie, but please do not upset Lilechka while she is not feeling well, ok?” The kitty looked at me with her intelligent eyes, and I knew she understood perfectly.
For a couple more days we had a gentleman’s agreement, according to which our visiting tabby waited discretely in the front porch until Lilechka ate and went to bask in the garden sun. Then she would come to the back porch and I would feed her to her heart’s content.
We were happy to feed this kitty, who was in such apparent need of nurturing. She always ate as if she was storing food like a camel, for the future use. We felt that unspoken agreement developed between the two cats. Something like this: “Lilechka to gray: you can have my extra food, I don’t eat that much any more.”
The tabby gratefully accepted everything we gave her, but once she was full, she never lingered. I often would come out on the back porch, hoping to pet her and talk to her after her meal, but the moment her third or fourth helping was finished, she immediately disappeared in the unknown direction.
And then, on April 29th 2014, Lilechka was suddenly gone. It was a crushing blow, something for which I was completely unprepared. With sorrow and tears, the guilt settled in. What have we done wrong? What could have we done differently to keep her going? Maybe we could have done this, or that…
The guilt was a road to nowhere. We understood that intellectually, but especially at night, my sorrow overwhelmed me. Even my hubby, who wasn’t usually prone to sadness, shed a tear.
The gray tabby continued religiously coming to the back porch for her chicken fix. Her presence proved a great distraction from our sadness. She ate even more ravenously than before, and we found ourselves busy cooking chicken every day. She always consumed that chicken as if she hadn’t eaten for a month. That little kitty ate more than a grown man – bowlfuls of freshly made chicken disappeared in her belly like they were nothing.
When we were preoccupied with Lilechka, we didn’t have the time to question why this kitty ate so much. At first we choked it up to the fact that she probably liked chicken too much and that she probably had a very difficult winter. She didn’t seem thin. But perhaps the food she usually ate wasn’t as nutritious? That still didn’t explain just why she ate such unusually large amounts of food, and she wasn’t telling us.
But since her appetite didn’t abate, we started looking deeper into the reason. I already understood that Lilechka had an unspoken agreement with this kitty in need that she could stay here after Lilechka was gone, but not before. It was becoming apparent to me that our smart Princess Lila had timed everything to perfection.
Still, even I had no idea how many more surprises she had in store for us.
The gray kitty was now letting me pet her. I did that as much as I could while she was eating. It really helped me forget my sorrow. Now she didn’t rush to leave our back porch quite as quickly as before, but she still left shortly after having finished all her food. “Look at you,” I remarked to her reproachfully. “You just come here, eat and leave. It’s not so nice of you. You could stay a little longer, you know.”
We started looking forward to the gray’s visits every day. Lilechka’s fur was rich, soft and silky. Petting this kitty was a different experience. She was short-haired, with fur tough like a bristle; her coat was a lovely looking gray stripes; her face was cute and expressive, eyes steady and intelligent. In her own, understated way, she really was a good-looking cat.
A couple of days after Lilechka’s passing, as I was petting her, the gray kitty raised her head and gave me a look of adoration. As she did, I noticed something strange. There were some bald spots that looked like large red sores on both sides of her mouth, where her whiskers were. I knew something was wrong and I tried to look closer. But she didn’t want to stay still. I asked for my hubby’s help and together we were able to determine that those indeed were raw sores flanking her mouth on both sides.
“Sweetie,” I addressed the kitty. “Has someone been abusing you? Has someone plucked your whiskers out and made these sores?” The kitty looked at us, but said nothing. We decided to examine her closer to make sure she was alright otherwise. I scratched her under her chin to help her relax, and as I did, I felt a large patch of missing fur on her upper front chest. It wasn’t noticeable when you looked at her, being covered by the rest of her fur, unless you literally stumbled upon it.
I parted the fur to examine the bald patch. It was covered by tough skin and appeared to have healed. “It’s probably an old battle wound,” commented my hubby. “And the sores around her mouth could be from lack of good nutrition, and stress.”
“I hope it’s not something worse than that,” I said.
We treated her sores with colloidal silver, a wonderful holistic remedy that worked well on various infections. For years we successfully treated Lilechka whenever she would get an eye infection, which she was prone to in her later years. A small drop of colloidal silver got rid of such infection in one day.
I turned to the kitty. “Darling, if anyone is mistreating you wherever you live, you are welcome to come and stay here any time. We’ll protect you.” She looked at me steadily, and as she did, an idea floated into my mind.
“Wait a minute,” I said, trying to lift her. “I think I know why she eats so much.” She was heavy and being used to Lilechka’s feather-weight, I couldn’t hold her as she started slipping out of my hands. But I lifted her enough to see her tummy.
There were protruding pink nipples covering her entire underside. Our mystery cat was a nursing mommy.
I looked her in the eye and said again, “Sweetie, you can come here for food any time, or if you need anything else, just let us know. We’ll take care of you.”
Next morning, she showed up earlier than usual.
“You are early today, sweetie,” I told her. “We haven’t started cooking chicken yet.”
“Mew,” she replied. That was the first time I’d ever heard her voice. It was a nice, melodic sound, if a bit low. “Mew,” she said again and did something that reminded me of Lilechka. When Lila wanted us to follow her somewhere, she would mew, look at us, then jerk her head in the direction she wanted us to go and start running in that direction. It sounded like, “C’mon, follow me, I need to show you something important over there.” We loved it when she did it. It was just so awfully cute.
This cat did something very similar. I followed her as she led me to the azalea bushes in the front yard. She glanced at me periodically to make sure I was with her.
“What did you want to show me, darling?” I asked, as we approached our blooming azaleas, which covered the entire perimeter of the front porch, providing a splash of color and lots of added privacy. She silently stood facing the bushes, as if saying, “Just look inside.”
I obediently crouched down in front of the low stone wall framing the bushes and peered inside the dense vegetation. In the murky depths of our azaleas I saw movement. When I looked closer, I clearly distinguished two tiny kittens who made themselves comfortable in the roomy shelter of the bush. One was gray, with very unusual wide swirly stripes, and another black, with charming snow cap paws and a matching white ascot, similar to Lilechka’s. I looked at the kittens mesmerized, while they made themselves comfortable inside the bush, staring back at me.
“Wow, darling, you do have kittens, and they are so pretty. You are a lucky momma.” I called my hubby and we both marveled at the kittens. She listened to our superlatives with delight and smiled. As her smile got wider, I noticed that her mouth sores were starting to heal. I made a mental note to keep treating her with silver.
“Ok,” I said. “Looks like they are safe in the bush for now. We’ll figure out later where to put them. Now, how about I go cook some chicken for you. Clearly you need to eat for three. No wonder you’ve been so ravenous.”
I went back inside to make her some chicken, while she silently disappeared. One hour later, she still wasn’t in the back porch, which was strange. I went to the front to check up on the two kittens. When I looked inside the azalea bush, there were four kittens.
I examined the street to see if she was around. Instead of our new kitty friend, I saw a lady who walked up to me and said, “This gray cat has been bringing her kittens to your front yard all morning, did you know? I live at the end of the street and I’ve noticed her walking past my window, carrying them one by one in her mouth. She just carried one and dropped him on the street. He was probably the heaviest. Then she picked him up again and kept hauling him here.”
“Yes,” I said, “I told her to bring them here. They seem to need a home and they are welcome to stay.”
I went back to the kitchen, and several minutes later, she was in the back porch, hungrier than ever. After she ate, we both went to the front and now there were five kittens playing and sleeping inside that welcoming azalea bush.
“You are so smart, aren’t you,” I said to her. “You first made sure we realized that you were a nursing mommy. Then you brought us two of your cutest babies, to make sure we liked them. I notice that the first two kittens are also the smallest, so they were the easiest to carry. You played your hand carefully and made sure we wouldn’t object. After you saw how happy we were to see them, you brought the rest. I admire your strategic talents, sweetie.”
She sat and looked at me, smiling mysteriously. And at that moment her name popped into my head. I knew that she should definitely be called Lola.
From that moment on, Lola and her kittens stayed with us. At first we were unprepared for such an invasion. But the days were lovely, and getting warmer, and the six cats really enjoyed our front porch.
Lola and her five kittens sleeping on our porch:
For years, Lilechka remained our only kitty. We were completely unequipped to deal with six cats. While we were thinking where and how to best accommodate them, the playing kittens and their momma on our front porch attracted a lot of attention from the neighbors. Mobs of people began ogling them standing by our low front stone wall. People climbed up onto the porch to take their pictures and to leave them some food. Someone started dropping open cans with cat food into the bushes, probably thinking they were starving, thus polluting our property. More than once we had to clean out those cans of dirty food from the bushes.
No question, the kittens and Lola were adorable. But it was really getting out of control. We were forced to hang a sign: “Private property, no trespassing!”
To get away from the curious crowds, we got busy organizing a play pen for Lola’s brood in the back porch. We also continued cooking daily for the nursing momma-cat. As she continued nursing, she ate so much that at one point we made her chicken three times a day. The kittens were starting to eat regular food as well. We welcomed being constantly busy. It took our minds off our sudden loss. Only at night the sorrow for Lilechka came flooding back.
I started spending more time playing, taking pictures and shooting videos of the playing kittens, who grew happy and were getting more and more adorable by the minute. Lola was happy too, seeing her kittens well fed and playful.
As I observed them, I started giving them names that went with their personalities and looks. The very first kitten Lola brought to us became my favorite. He was the best adjusted of all, the most playful and the cutest. I named him Tigger for his cuteness and bold swirly stripes.
This is Tigger:
The second kitten she brought to us became Yin-Yang for his striking black fur and contrasting white ascot and paws.
This is Yin-Yang:
More pics of Yin-Yang and Tigger, who loved to hang out together, and Lola the mommy cat:
Then there was Shadow, who was completely black, undoubtedly taking after his daddy.
This is Shadow:
The last two were very close in coloring. They were definitely momma’s boys. One had striped markings similar to Lola’s, but his fur had a grayish-peach shade. I named him Peach. The last kitten – the one that was the heaviest, and whom Lola dropped while carrying him to our home, had a pretty bluish-gray shade to his fur. He also had very striking blue eyes. All five kittens had gorgeous blue eyes, but that one stood out. After much hesitation, I finally settled on calling him Blue.
All five kittens sleeping together on our porch, Blue and Peach are upfront:
Lola nursing the kittens. Right to left: Peach, Blue and Yin-Yang are on top:
We sometimes gathered on the front porch and watched the kittens play with each other, or eat, or simply rest huddled together, in one big fluffy fur ball.
One day several people walked up to our porch and told us Lola’s story. They lived a block away. Their neighbor had a cat who had a litter. Lola was one of that litter. When the woman moved away, she took her cat with her, but left the litter behind. The poor kitties had to fend for themselves. These nice people let Lola stay on their porch with her kittens. But their house was already full with their own several cats and a dog, so they couldn’t let her inside.
Generally, their quarters were cramped and not in very good condition. No wonder our smart Lola chose to move to our house.
“She is much better off here,” said the man. “You have no idea how crowded it is on our side. Everyone has at least a few cats. They are vying for space and food. But here, there is so much more space and privacy for them.”
As we were talking, the kittens played on the grass. “They are happy here,” he added.
“They’ve moved up the social ladder,” his wife joked.
As we talked, a car pulled up to the curb. A woman came out, explaining that she had been bringing food for the kittens. I thanked her, asking her not to do that any more as they were fully taken care of.
The cat lady explained that she was helping stray kittens to be neutered and adopted into good homes. After Lola stops nursing, she said, her kittens and herself need to be taken to the vet and neutered. And I can help them get adopted as well, she added.
She would help pay, she said, to take Lola and the kittens to the vet. They needed to do some tests to see if they had worms.
“They have no worms,” I blurted out. “I guarantee it. I would have felt it if Lola or the kittens did. She is generally very healthy,” I added, “except for those terrible mouth sores.”
I explained that when Lola first showed up she had raw sores around her mouth, but after we treated them with silver, they vanished within two days. She looked at me incredulously. It appears she had never heard about colloidal silver, or that sores could be gone so fast.
I thanked her and took her number. Still mourning Lilechka, at that point we were uncertain how we wanted to proceed. We knew that Lola was a precious kitty, who could make anyone very happy. The kittens, especially my favorite Tigger, were adorable, and we didn’t see any problem finding them loving homes, if we had to.
The six cats were a handful. They kept us busy all day as we moved furniture and re-purposed our huge back porch as a cozy playpen for the kittens and our dinette as their feeding area. But keeping ourselves busy and being around all that young, pulsing energy let us forget our sudden loss.
We were extremely grateful for the distraction, realizing now full well our Princess Lila masterminded her last gift of Lola and the kittens. Lilechka knew we would be heartbroken losing her; she anticipated we would need a distraction, and she obviously wanted to help Lola get a better home. The young and playful energy of Lola’s kittens, and Lola’s calm and grateful demeanor did a lot to make us feel better.
We stopped feeling guilty, irrationally second guessing ourselves about what we could have done differently to keep Lilechka alive a bit longer. We now understood that she knew it was her time to go and that she went in the exact way and at the exact time she had wanted.
As the always hungry five kittens and their nursing mommy kept us working, we noticed that a healing of the recent wound started taking place. Again I marveled at how amazingly everything fell into place. If not for Lola and her kittens, the wound could have festered a lot longer and with much more pain.
We also marveled at how well Lila and Lola organized the whole thing, how gently and gradually, only when we were ready, Lola broke the news of her kittens to us.
We toyed with the idea of keeping Lola and Tigger, while getting the rest adopted. As all six started feeling quite at home in our house, wandering around and exploring, I couldn’t stop being amazed at how smart Lola was, almost Princess Lila smart. She would silently ask me to take a tour of the house, jerking her head in the direction of the second floor and looking back at me – are you with me? As she walked into a room, she would look up at me as if saying, I could see myself in this room. What about you?
I really wanted to. Yet, every time I looked at her, I saw Lilechka.
It was still too close, and too raw. I would never look at Lola on her own merits, I realized. This rare feline, so beautifully calm, intelligent, caring and brave, deserved more than just being Princess Lila’s shadow. Lola and I often had silent conversations. She was good at silent communication – that I noticed since her stealth psychic exchanges with Princess Lila. I was pretty sure Lola knew how I felt.
We also knew that within a couple of years we would be moving again. Our many moves were always hard on our Lilechka, but she bravely endured them, for us. I didn’t want to do this to Lola and Tigger.
We finally decided to foster them while Lola was nursing, and then give them all up for adoption to good homes with the help of the nice cat lady we had met. We got attached to our six kitties and we knew we would miss them terribly. But it was the best and most reasonable thing to do for all.
Clearly, the Cat Goddess, assisted by the fairy godmother, Princess Lila, was looking out for our Lola and her kittens. This, once upon a time abandoned, homeless kitty, who had to survive on someone’s dilapidated porch even in the coldest of winters, had experienced a complete turnaround.
Lola and Tigger were adopted together by the cat lady’s friend, who had a big yard and lots of space for them to roam around. Yin-Yang and Blue were adopted together by another family, for their little girl and boy. Shadow, the black kitten, was adopted right away as well. Peach lingered the longest, but later he was also adopted by a nice family.
Lola’s terrible mouth sores had completely healed and we spoiled her so much with all that chicken that in the end she couldn’t look at it any more. The vet who neutered her gave her a clean bill of health. No worms, no sores, no problems. The kittens were as healthy and happy as they could be. How did you do it? The cat lady and the vet asked us. It appeared they expected worms and other problems.
We thought we didn’t really do anything special. Perhaps we just poured out on Lola and her kittens all the love that was once reserved for Lilechka.
And love heals all.
This is part of the story of Princess Lila and her many gifts. I hope you enjoyed the inspiring tale of Lola and her five kittens. One day, I plan to publish a book about Lilechka, whose working title is PRINCESS LILA’S LAST GIFT.
We expect to be moving again next year. It will be a big move and we’ve decided to hold off on adopting a kitty till after we’ve settled down. My hubby wants an orange kitty (he has always been secretly in love with Garfield). I am dreaming of a white kitty. Two would be nice, so they can play with each other, but maybe we’ll also get a black kitty as well, to remind us of Princess Lila’s cosmic spirit as a giant Black Panther (read about that in Princess Lila and I).
Three kitties are even better than two, don’t you think? ;)
We are keeping our options open, while keeping our eyes and ears open as well. We know, our life will lead us to the right kitties at the right time.
For now, when we go for our long walks around the city, we meet a lot of beautiful cats of all colors and breeds. They usually run to us and we get to pet them to our – and their – hearts content. These precious kitties would run to me and my hubby, their tails up in the air, with a little curl at the tip (a sign of respect); they would roll on the ground, exposing their belly and asking to be petted. They would snuggle against our legs and jump on our lap. The city where we live is kind and welcoming, and local house kitties feel quite at home on its shady streets. On our walks we also meet a lot of beautiful dogs and get to pet them, too.
It always amazes me how much unconditional love animals have. They pour out all that affection on us, humans, asking for very little in return – that we love them back.
#LightForPets #cats #animalrescue #animalprotection #petadoption #love #compassion
Copyright 9/24/2015 Lada Ray
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As a big animal lover, in my books animals and pets play a prominent role.
STEPFORD USA is a charming and humorous mystery. It’s in big part about a smart cat named Princess Lily and brave dog named James.
Princess Lily makes a comeback in the Amazon/Kindle bestselling sequel mystery thriller GOLD TRAIN (Accidental Spy Russia Adventure).
My short novelette, CATHARSIS (Legend of the Lemurians), in a mystical story of a great cosmic journey, and it’s also about hope and faith against all odds. But in big part, it is also a warning against destructive human behavior, containing a description of what can happen when humans have the wrong priorities and when they completely stop caring about animals.
Last, but not least, THE EARTH SHIFTER is a consistently top-rated spiritual and mystical tale of the Earth Shift, through which we all are going at this time. Most of the animals in this novel are the power spirit animals, helping the chosen ones to fulfill their destiny. However, the book also includes a touching real story of the two lost Siberian tigers.