This is the post I didn’t want to write, but it’s now been more than a week since we last saw Jetta – the little black cat who gave birth to two litters of kittens – most of whom have adopted us and our finca as their home.
In autumn 2010 we saw Jetta for the first time, when we arrived home to see a tiny black kitten on our large terrace. It scuttled away into the shrubs and we didn’t see it again for some time. But it wasn’t long before the little black cat was a regular visitor; it spent much of its time at the holiday home finca of some vegetarian friends from Yorkshire. They would treat it to a bowl of leftover vegetarian casserole from time to time – which she evidently demolished happily.
Sometimes the little black cat – we named her Jetta (she was jet black) – came to our finca, where we fed her cat biscuits and made sure there was water available for her. When our friends returned to the UK in February 2011 after their winter break, Jetta realized that her future source of food – other than anything she could catch – would be us.
Eating for a clan
Jetta became a regular visitor, with a voracious appetite. It wasn’t long before we decided we were feeding her too much, because she was becoming rather portly around the middle. It wasn’t long afterwards that we realized that she was pregnant. We’ll never forget March 31st of that year, when this small bewildered cat gave birth. She’d been spending a lot of time in the adjoining abandoned finca and we assumed it was where she’d decided to have her litter.
On what turned out to be The Big Day, Jetta was very restless, crying pitifully, and lumbering around the terraces. She seemed to want us to be with her, so we watched, waited, and tried to comfort her. It wasn’t long before she waddled slowly down the field to the next-door finca, stopping every few yards to check that we were with her. As she reached the stone wall, she turned to look at us, as if to say she’d be OK now. She scrambled up over the wall and disappeared to do her duty.
She gave birth to four kittens, although we didn’t see them for a few weeks. One was sadly hit by a car in the lane while still quite young, but Beamer, Dusty, and Bear are all still with us. And – now two years old – have grown to be much larger than their mum.
And again . . .
Jetta – obviously rather liberal with her favours – had her second litter almost indecently soon afterwards: this time there were five kittens – three of which (Chico, Sweetie, and Nibbles) are still regular visitors for food. Once she’d recovered from this pregnancy and had finished feeding her kittens, we took her to be speyed. When we went to collect her after the operation, the vet told us she had been in the early stages of yet another pregnancy. What a hard life for such a young cat.
Despite her young age, Jetta was an excellent mum, and wouldn’t stand any nonsense from her large brood. For a while, she wanted to put some distance between herself and the kittens, choosing to wait for her food at the back door, while the hungry little mouths mewed insistently outside the front door. She’d hiss at them if they tried to approach her, and sometimes give them a little swipe with her paw if they tried to sneak a crafty suckle.
In recent months she’d become more accepting of her family and been a regular visitor, coming twice most days for her food, which she now ate in the company of her family – and the little interloper Shorty, whom she eventually tolerated. Occasionally we’d see her giving one of her brood – all of them larger than her – a quick wash around the ears, or some other area she felt they’d been neglecting.
Jetta was a good mum, and gave us a lot of pleasure. She’d come to us if we called her and, if she was at the bottom of the field, she’d lope up towards the house, then brush against our legs. She’d have made a lovely domestic pet – although Minstral, our Birman, would have had other ideas!
She’d been such a regular visitor recently – and content to be among her family – that we can only assume that her absence for more than a week is not good news. We’ve seen no sign of her in the lanes, but much of the terrain around here is not accessible as far as mounting a search goes.
We’ll probably never know what has happened to Jetta, but we do know that she had a lot of love in her short life – and has left a legacy of adorable cats who will always remind us of her.
Thank you, Jetta. God bless.