We have foster kittens in the house again! Beautiful momma cat Cola arrived to us with her 1 week old babies Squirt, Soda, Pop, Fizz, and Bubbles, on April 2. In the week we have been watching them, they have shown so much change. I can sit and watch them for hours. And I do, believe me, much to the chagrin of my instructors at Saybrook University, who keep waiting for me to submit this semester’s essays on the human animal bond. Instead of writing about it, I am living it! They have me mesmerized.
Here is the family on the first day they came to stay with us.
These little bundles of love and joy get bigger, stronger, and more active every day. I feel so privileged to be a part of their journey to finding new homes with loving human families.
It was a bit of a challenge to sort out which little one is which, but on the day of their first weigh-in we tried our best.
I’ve been waiting for a mom with 5 babies to come along just so I could use the title Five Little Poopers and How They Grew, a nod of a sort to Margaret Sidney’s series of books, Five Little Peppers. The first in a series of 12 books (published 1881-1916), The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew was a childhood favorite of mine. As I’ve written before, as the youngest child of a young, pretty widow, I was fascinated by stories of widowed mothers with spunky children, everyone pitching in and getting into all kinds of hijinks.
Margaret Sidney considered the series done after 4 books, but pressure from her fans prompted her to keep writing. The series, in order:
- Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1881)
- Five Little Peppers Midway (1890)
- Five Little Peppers Grown Up (1892)
- Five Little Peppers: Phronsie Pepper (1897)
- Five Little Peppers: The Stories Polly Pepper Told (1899)
- Five Little Peppers: The Adventures of Joel Pepper (1900)
- Five Little Peppers Abroad (1902
- Five Little Peppers At School (1903)
- Five Little Peppers and Their Friends (1904)
- Five Little Peppers: Ben Pepper (1905)
- Five Little Peppers in the Little Brown House (1907)
- Five Little Peppers: Our Davie Pepper (1916)
In 1939, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew was released as a film, with Edith Fellows receiving top billing as sister Polly.
Of course, as the youngest in my family, my favorite Pepper was baby sister Phronsie (short for Saphronia). She was also the sibling saddled with the least common name in the family, another trait I share with her. In the film version, she was played by adorable little Dorothy Ann Seese.
When I finally saw the movie, not so long ago, I became seriously concerned for the kitten actor who appears as a gift to Phronsie. Phronsie hauls that poor little thing around like an old sock, and I became concerned for the welfare of that long gone cat.
Apparently I’m not the only one who was concerned for the kitten. I found pictures of the kitten in several scenes, marked with a red arrow to show that the kitten was alive and kicking and still in the movie.
I’ve been oddly fascinated with the number 5 recently. Biblically, the number 5 supposedly signifies the grace of God because man was created with 5 fingers on each hand, 5 toes on each foot, and 5 senses. In other traditions and readings, the number 5 represents balance, health, love, marriage, the human (the 4 limbs and the head that controls them), peace, harmony…
Other odd things about the number 5: there are 5 vowels in the English language, an earthworm has 5 hearts, many (but not all) starfish have 5 arms. Back to the Bible, David was armed with 5 stones when he killed Goliath. I am generally opposed to throwing stones at anyone or anything, but it’s a good story as far as parables go. With faith and determination, you can do what you set out to do.
Legendary designer Coco Chanel considered 5 to be her lucky number. Her most successful and iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, was released on May 5, 1922. She purportedly said, “I always launch my collection on the 5th day of the 5th month, so the number 5 seems to bring me luck – therefore, I will name it No 5.”
I am currently reading Louise Penny’s 9th novel in her Inspector Gamache series, titled How the Light Gets In. Gotta love a book that references singer/songwriter/poet/ordained Buddhist monk Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Here is the song performed by 2 amazing singers, Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla, who were both backup singers for Leonard Cohen, or his angels, as he called them.
In the Inspector Gamache book (yes, back to the book, there is a reason I brought it up), How the Light Gets In is a mystery surrounding the famous Ouellet quintuplets, a fictional set of 5 identical sisters based on the real-life Dionne quintuplets (born 1934) and the story of their family ceding custody of the girls to the government of Ontario, which made millions of dollars off of them a tourist attraction.
The Dionne quints were the first known quintuplets to have survived infancy. In 1934, such a birth was headline news and not a common occurence. Now, with fertility drugs and medical interventions, such a story would not be the rarity it was then. In the midst of the Depression, the world was hungry for what they thought was a happy story. But the true story of the Dionne sisters is much darker; they were watched, examined, kept by Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe in his Dafoe Hospital and Nursery with the support of the Ontario government.
The parents were poor, unable to make ends meet, and already had 5 older children to support, so the girls were taken away at 4 months of age, exploited, exhibited publicly several times a day. They didn’t see their parents Oliva-Edouard and Elzire Dionne until they were 9 years old, in 1943, when Oliva and Elzire won custody of the girls back from the government. In later years, the girls described being sexually abused by their father. They had all left home by the age of 18.
Émilie became a nun, but died young at age 20 from suffocation during a seizure. Marie died of a brain tumor at age 35. In the 1990s, surviving sisters Annette, Cécile, and Yvonne, living in poverty, received a settlement from the government, but it could, of course, not make up for the abuses they suffered. They also told their story in the book Family Secrets, with writer Jean-Yves Soucy. Yvonne died of cancer in 2001.
As far as I can tell, Annette and Cécile are still living.
Morbid curiosity on my part? Probably. Partly. It is a fascinating story. Not necessarily murderous as in the Louise Penny fictionalized version, but still dark and tragic.
As for my 5 little ones, their mother is taking quite good care of them, and they are on the path to very happy lives. Yes, I love to show pictures of them and it would be great for people to spend time with them, socializing them to human company. But I don’t get any benefit from them other than tremendous happiness and the feeling that I am doing something good in the world. Priceless.
I love all 5 of the babies, and their momma, to pieces and would never do anything to hurt them in any way. But I do want to share them with you. Everyone needs a little kitten photo break in their day.
(I am aware that Tiny Bubbles is a 1966 song from singer Don Ho, but I am not going there right now. You’re welcome.)
I wish them loving adoptive families, long healthy lives, happiness cat-style, safety, delicious nutritious food, and bright sunny windows. That’s 5 things. I am sure I can come up with more, but this seems a fitting place to stop.
Consider fostering for your local shelter. You’ll be glad you did.
Read books. Read every day. Seriously.
Peace and hugs (and kittens).