Sausage #2: Arista

Warning: If you’re soft-hearted, or even have half a soul, and don’t want to cry, don’t read any further. Abigail, this means you.

My wife and I had spoken a few times today due to our incoming company. Mostly logistics, with the occasional “I love you” slipped in. This evening, though, I had just sent her an email asking her to call me when she was leaving for the night (She was going out, I was working late; it worked out well in theory.), when she called me. Nice how that works out, right?

“I have something unpleasant to ask you to do.” This is never good. More laundry? Mopping floors? “Arista… didn’t make it.”

Rewind to Sunday night — four days ago. Mandrina and I were supposed to be working on our 2008 NaNos all day, but ended up running errands, instead. I was also supposed to be working-working, but that didn’t happen, either. So ten o’clock comes, and we’re finally sitting down to get an hour or two in before bed.

Part of Sunday had involved washing a cat crate and then bathing our two remaining fosters (Bristol – the momma – and Cardiff – the runt) so that they could be brought upstairs. Cardiff had met our household cats, and he and Dragon had INSTANTLY hit it off. It was past adorable into creepy. (Mandrina, we’re not keeping Cardiff-the-so-ugly-he’s-cute). Bristol, however, despite sniffing under the door for weeks, wasn’t at all interested in the house. She occasionally left the crate to hide under the futon, and once to use the litter box, but other than that… she would at least come to us to be pet, so we weren’t overly concerned.

I came back upstairs to discover Mandrina had brought her to sit between us on the futon while we wrote. Bristol was purring up a storm, so who was I to complain. We were writing, or trying to, and eventually Bristol got bored with us and hopped to the floor. A few minutes later, there was this incredibly high pitched whine. The last time I had heard anything like it was when Mandrina’s best-cat-ever had died, so my heart stopped for a moment.

I couldn’t see Bristol, but Mandrina could. “Bristol, are you… is that a kitten?” Words quickly devolved. We weren’t at all prepared to have a litter of kittens; it was a new experience, so I did what anyone with a modicum of common sense would do: call the foster agency’s twenty-four hour emergency line.

Twenty-four hours my ASS. So instead, we bundled again-momma cat and new kitten into a hamper, and took off to the 24-hour emergency vet around the corner. The kitten was LOUD! Bristol just wanted to be somewhere else, but was happy when we pet her. We brought them inside… and the vet sent us home with a ten page printout on how to give birth to kittens.

Short version: Let the mom handle it.

On the way home, Mandrina decried the little guy’s set of lungs, then, brilliance: “Let’s name her Aretha [Franklin.]”

“No, she could be a he or an it.”

“Then Motown.” And so, the decision was made that much like the last set of Fosters had been the British invasion (Ayton-Bristol-Cardiff-Dublin), this set would be classic recording labels.

We got home, and waited. A half hour later, we found out that Motown may have been loud, but new kitten Arista was high- pitched. Good lungs on that one!

Over the course of the next four hours, we got RCA, Columbia, and Abbey Road. Polygram was born overnight after we were sure Bristol must be done.

That poor, poor momma cat.

That was Sunday night — there was a distinct lack of sleep. I ran to Walgreens in order to get them a heating pad to sleep on, and I think they were warmer than I was. Cardiff was learning to socialize, and Bristol was allowed out of the crate as long as someone was around to make sure she returned to her little brats — the tiny little things were so small, Mandrina and I took to calling them “sausages” — the breakfast kind, not the McDonald’s or put-on-a-bun kind.

So back to tonight. Mandrina called, and asked me to bury the little guy. Or girl. Kittens don’t open their eyes for days, and can’t hear for weeks. So poor little Arista never got to see the world outside, never got to hear her name. She did get lots of love, and I know I held her for a few minutes last night; I could barely feel the weight she was so light.

I’ll add a picture later. It’s easier to tell them apart when they’re all together, and I’m afraid I’d add the wrong picture.

I came home tonight and buried her. It was far from the most fun thing in the world. I lifted a glass of my favorite Reisling; and don’t tell Mandrina or Bristol, but I buried her with some Grade-A Catnip. Wherever she’s going, she deserves it.

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