“Mom, the kittens are gone.”

“MOOOOOOOOM, where are they? Mom, they were here last night.”

As a foster for the shelter, this is really something you never want to hear. And you never want to hear such panic in your kid’s voice.

My son is 12, at an age where he likes to play tricks on me. He’s even become a master at the double-trick. He came home from school last week to tell me that the week-long trip to Yosemite had been canceled because of that deadly virus. I played along until he said that he was just joking. That started a great conversation about what he would experience on that trip. Then he said that it actually had been canceled. Back and forth, “wanna bet”, he produced the written documentation from the school, I was out 5 bucks.

But ‘the kittens are gone’ was different. They really were not in the crate. They were not behind the washer (not that they could even get there, but isn’t that where you’d look?). They were not anywhere and it was silent.

Mama Crystal was not concerned. She was winding her slim body between my feet just like every other morning, expecting attention and of course, food.

“Ok, let’s think about this. They could not have escaped from the house, there are only 2 rooms they could be in, we’ve looked in here, let’s look in the garage.” Then I heard a tiny meow, and some grey fluff emerged. All 6 kittens were snuggled up in a tiny box, under a pallet, behind a pile of junk, in the farthest corner of the garage. What? Why?

We pulled them out, put them back into the crate, restoring order to the world.

Finally, we figured it out. We’d had a visit from a skunk in the middle of the night. The dogs had been barking and restless, the odor was overpowering. While we all lost sleep, Crystal knew just what to do. Instinct kicked in and she knew that she needed to save her babies.

Life with animals. And boys. Time for this mom to have another cup of coffee.