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A Mother's Love
by Alice Arnold

The first time I saw her she stayed in the dark at the back of the alley. I called to her and she ran, so I knew it would take time for me to gain this one's trust. After many weeks, finally the night came when she let me touch her - I was thrilled. A few nights later she let me pick her up. I felt her stomach to determine whether or not she was nursing babies, and sure enough, this little brown tiger cat had kittens somewhere. I couldn't take her off the streets without the babies, so I would have to wait until she brought them to me.

Weeks passed and she always came for food and I always ran my hand under her stomach; she was still nursing. "Please bring me your babies," I would tell her, but I knew she wouldn't. She was going to wait me out - she was protecting her young ones no matter what.

One night when I got to her location, I saw something I have never seen in all my years of doing this work (and that's a long time). I saw a cat in the middle of the street, a very busy street with cars traveling fast back and forth around her. The cat was standing over something in the road, she was licking it and pulling on it. My only thought was that she would be hit by a car if I didn't get to her quickly so I pulled in front of her as fast as I could and blocked her from oncoming traffic.

When I got out of the car, I realized the cat was my momma cat. As I approached her I saw what had fixed her attention to the point that she ignored all else - it was a kitten, her kitten, a little brown tiger just like her. She must have followed mom across the street where some driver who wasn't paying attention or who didn't care ran over her.

But there was mom, her heart bigger than life, risking her own safety to save her baby. I shooed mom out of the street and she watched as I picked up her kitten and brought the body to the side of the road. I checked for a heartbeat but the kitten was dead. I looked down at the little tiger mother and I knew she was crying inside.

Close by was a vacant lot where an abandoned building had been torn down. With the little mom following, I carried the kitten's body to the pile of rubble on the lot and covered it was pieces of wood and bricks then I stood back to watch the grieving mother say good-bye to her baby. She walked over and sniffed the grave. Before she slowly walked away, the little tiger cat turned to look at me; we both had pain in our hearts.

Weeks went by and I saw no trace of other kittens. I knew then that the little one in the street was mom's only baby. When I could tell for sure all her nursing milk was gone, I took her off the streets. She's safe now.


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