Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Meet Valentine - Colony Matriach
It was a few days before Valentines Day in 2003 when I first met the beautiful brown tabby I decided to call Valentine. And she was pregnant. I was concerned for her and the arrival of her babies because it was mid February and it was cold. I called a local cat rescue group for some advice and I have to say I was somewhat disappointed in the response I got. They assured me Valentine could not be pregnant at this time of the year - it was too early in the season. Well she did have kittens. I'm not sure where or when she delivered but I could tell when she was no longer pregnant.
In early April Valentine came out from the lumberyard with the other cats from the colony to have breakfast. She ate and then wondered off and a few minutes later returned with 3 adorable wee kittens. She was weaning them and teaching them where to come for food. I was mezmerized. There was a little brown tabby that looked exactly like Valentine and two black kittens. I was so impressed with the way Valentine sat quietly as the kittens bounced around. They came for a bite of food but the slightest move from me and they dashed back behind the chainlink fence and the "safety" of the lumberyard. I named the shorthair black kitty Jet, the longhaired black F.J. which stood for Fluffy Jet but changed to Frances Jane when I learned she was a girl. The little tabby kitten disappeared shortly after I first saw her.
In late July Valentine delivered 5 more kittens. These wee babies were discovered by one of the workers in the lumberyard and thankfully he was a kind hearted man. He told one of the women employees about the kittens which set off a series of phone calls. The kittens were removed and Valentine was caught in a humane trap. Arrangements had been made with a vet who would allow Valentine to care for her brood until they could be weaned. Afterwards she would be spayed and homes would be found for her family.
Valentine returned to the colony about the middle of September. I was concerned she would be shunned by the others in the colony after her absence but she marched right back into their midst and resumed her roll as the matriach.
I'm not sure when it happened but eventually Valentine allowed me to pet her, and even groom her. She loves to rub up against my legs when I arrive with the food. In the 8 years I have been feeding this colony, I think Valentine has only missed about three meals. She loves her food.
Sometimes Valentine plays and runs and carrys on like a young cat but I think she is at least ten, maybe even a bit older. She loves catnip. When she finishes rolling around in the little pile I give her she will walk over to another kitty and take over their catnip. Valentine just has to look at any of the other cats and they move off.
The past few days she has been particularly affectionate. She has made a point of rubbing against my legs so that I will stop and scratch behind her ears. She is a sweetie but when she has had enough she is swift with the paw.