Ripley’s advice to Kari

Hello, Kari.

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Kari, since we’re being informal and…well, my mum never performed the ritual so She never named us. It was tough enough for mum to find enough food so we didn’t go hungry, and I’m afraid the niceties got overlooked sometimes. She did her best, though, and I’m grateful to her.

I hope you’ve found my mark. If you haven’t, look for it under the window, which was my special place while I was in the big white den. The other girls left their marks too. I found Rosemary’s straight away because it was the newest and it was still glowing. It was a big comfort to me. It told me that everything would be OK.

Do you want to hear my story? I think it will help you, so listen up while I tell it. I was born on the wrong side of the tracks, for sure. I don’t want to go into details about how it was hard to find enough food or to find a warm place to lay down – all that is in the past and best left there. I spent most of my time out of doors, where at least the air was fresh and there was a chance of a mouse or two and…well, you know how it is. The tabby from the parking lot was kind and showed me where the plumpest mice were to be found and…oh!..but that big, long-haired drifter was just the most handsome dude I’ve ever seen. I still dream about him some nights…

Kari…you think four is hard work? Try five! And what’s more, they were all born grey! You know what that means – I’d not done right by my babbies while they were cooking. I felt so ashamed. I’m afraid it made me a little short in the temper department and, although I was taken to a lovely place with a soft bed, I’m afraid I disgraced myself. I would like to apologize to that cat in person one day. I hope his fur grew back OK. Anyway, the end result of our…er, close encounter was that I was shipped out to the big white den with the big white cage and the big white hoomin. Yes…that hoomin. I thought it was some kind of tree at first, but then he purred at me and let me boop his hand and he was so gentle with the babbies. They adored him.

Ha ha! I can’t help wondering what names She would’ve given my brood, if I’d done the ritual. “Ash, He Who Doubles In Weight Daily”; “Bishop, With A Face Like A Pansy”; “Parker, Where The Hell Has He Gone Now?”. Ah…what fun they had together, my lovely, lovely kittens.

I understand that feeling of being watched, too. At first, I thought it was the little yellow god with the staring eyes. Has he manifested himself to you, too? He bothered me at first, I don’t trust a creature who stares so intently but says nothing, even if he is an immortal. But then he cuddled my little daughter when she was having bad dreams and soothed her to sleep, so I said “hail” to him, which seemed to be what he expected and we lived in peace after that.

I loved my time in the den. It was the best time of my life…up to that point. But, you see, Kari, a day is coming that you should be prepared for. Your time in the den is coming to an end – I know you can sense it. When it was our day to leave, we were taken to a bright, shiny and noisy place with strange hoomins everywhere. We took The Oath together and pledged to uphold The Code then, one by one, my babbies were taken from me and I was left alone. I’d just told my kids to be brave, but it’s easier to say than to do and I felt very, very afraid. I don’t know how long I was there on my own. I hunkered down in the hope that no-one would see my fear and time seemed to stand still but, suddenly, I felt a rush of warmth, from the tips of my whiskers right through to my toe pads. It was like the sun emerging from behind the clouds and my spirits were lifted. It was as if I could hear a thousand voices all shouting “Yay!”. Then hands reached into the cage and I was lifted out and I gazed up for the first time into the face of a hoomin…MY hoomin! I cried and cried and clung on tight so he wouldn’t leave me behind and we cuddled for the longest time, before we left the shiny place forever…together.

You see, Kari, I’m as ordinary as you are exotic, as plain as you are beautiful, yet here I am, with my big sisters, and two hoomins to care for who I love dearly. There will be love for you too, and snacks and sleeps and cuddles. And don’t be afraid for the babbies either, for they will go on to great things. I am so proud of my boys and girls. So young, yet they are teachers, comforters, counselors, comedians and companions and so, so beautiful, every one of them. And my boy Ash…well, he’s just the spitting image of his father. Don’t tell him I said so, though.

So, leave your mark for the next lonely mother to find and, when you have moved on, listen for us in the darkest hour of the night, when The Moon has gone to sleep and the world is quiet. You know that murr that’s right down low? The one that seems to come in on the breeze, just on the edge of hearing, that you feel through your paws and whiskers? That will be us. We are waiting for you.
And, somewhere out there, they are waiting too.

Good luck
Ripley

PS: We’ve all been baffled by the poop thing. Rosemary thinks they probably use it as currency. Rosemary is usually right about these things.

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