For All Cat Lovers
In memory of a female calico Persian cat named Mittsie, who lived in three states (Texas, New York, and New Jersey), who lived with two families, and was Bruce's favorite pet. She bore seven kittens during her lifetime (in five litters late in life). Only five kittens survived birth. Her average litter consisted of only one kitten! When she was neutered in 1997, it was discovered that she had only one ovary.
Mittsie will be greatly missed. She was highly intelligent, very affectionate, and psychic. She could sense things before they happened. Her behavior changed markedly a week before she was hit by a car in front of our house at age 12. She changed where she liked to lie down, and didn't return to any of her old nests. She kept knocking our clock radio off the night table. Was she trying to tell us that she was going elsewhere, and it was time?
Mittsie was saved by Bonnie, Bruce's late wife, on the 4th of July 1988. Mittsie was only six weeks old, and she seemed to know that she was the luckiest kitten in the litter when we took her home with us. We saved her from certain death due to illness and neglect. The Veternarian said she had several types of parasites and skin fungus, and probably would not have survived had we not rescued her.
Mittsie went into convulsions and passed out on the floor on 14 January 1991, two days after Bonnie died from heart disease. Mittsie vomited blood and nearly died. She spent several days in intensive care at a local veternary hospital in Middletown, NY. I interpret her sudden illness as a reaction to losing her best friend, Bonnie.
After she adopted her new family when Bruce remarried, she began to venture outside. That is when she met her first suiter and had her first litter of two kittens, both of which died. She promptly went back to her boyfriend, and within four months gave birth again. This time one of three kittens survived. We named him Prints Valiant because of the paw-like markings on his back. Her inability to produce more than one viable offspring at a time was probably due to congenital damage to her ovaries.
Date of Birth
|Mother||Weight at Birth||Number in Litter||
|23 May 1988||Unknown (Santa Fe, TX)||unknown||unknown (six-eight?)||deceased 12 October 2000|
Prints Valiant (m)
|18 August 1993||Mittsie (Red Bank, NJ)||110 grams||three (one survived)||disappeared April 1995|
26 March 1995
|Mittsie (Red Bank, NJ)||86 grams||one (survived)||disappeared 8 November 2004 in El Paso, TX|
|11 March 1996||Mittsie (Red Bank, NJ)||90 grams||one (survived)||deceased 21 February 2000|
|Scully (f)||7 February 1997||Mittsie (Red Bank, NJ)||203 grams||one (survived)||adopted|
|7 July 1997||Mittsie (Red Bank, NJ)||98 grams||one (survived)||Goes outside in desert (El Paso, TX); disappeared on 21 November 2004.|
|Flash (f)||22 July 1999||Tabatha (Red Bank, NJ)||200 grams||one (survived)||adopted|
|4 August 1999||Printsess (Red Bank, NJ)||N/A||two (none survived)||N/A|
|6 November 1999||Tabatha (Red Bank, NJ)||N/A||three (none survived)||N/A|
|9-10 November 1999||Printsess (Red Bank, NJ)||138 grams||two (one survived)||adopted by B. Hartwell (May 2002, now living in Maine)|
Prints Valiant in August 1993. Note the marking on his back that resembles a paw print.
Then came Daenerra in March 1995.
Printsess came in March 1996.
Printsess in between Daenerra and Mittsie in April 1996.
Printsess died suddenly in February 2000 from a feline respiratory virus.
Scully came in February 1997. She was adopted by the Larotunda family and is doing fine.
Below: Printsess and Scully.
Tabatha came in July 1997. She was our Halloween-colored cat.
Flash (right) was born to Tabatha in July 1999 and
Kyra (center) to Printsess in November 1999.
Perhaps the most extraordinary event for our cat family was when both Tabatha and Printsess became pregnant by the same father (below), and gave birth to not one, but two litters each in four months. We were not concerned about overpopulating the world with cats, because of the genetic predisposition for small litters.
Out of those four litters only two kittens survived. The rest died soon after birth. Reason: A genetic predisposition of Mittsie and her offspring, probably related to the X-chromosome. That's why we let some of Mittsie's daughters reproduce in hopes of bringing in non-defective genes. We wanted to have one fertile offspring of Mittsie survive her. Currently there is only one female capable of bearing offspring remaining (Kyra).
Printsess always looked after Tabatha from the time she was born, as if Tabatha were her kitten. In the picture below Printsess is trying to pick up a defiant Tabatha and bring her back inside the house as Mittsie watches (12 August 1997).
Printsess was only a year older than Tabatha, but the two were inseparable. The second time Tabatha gave birth (6 November 1999) Printsess acted as midwife for Tabatha, and helped her deliver her kittens.
I know of no previous account of a cat midwifing another. Such behavior for an animal is highly unusual.
Printsess held Tabatha in her paws as Tabatha went through a difficult labor, and helped Tabatha clean off her kittens and eat the afterbirth. Tragically, all three died soon after birth.
That extraordinary birth was videotaped. Images from that video are presented below. The birth was exceptionally painful for Tabatha, who let out numerous bloodcurdling screams.
Success!!! Mother and sister help clean up newborns.
Two of the kittens; both suffered sudden infant death syndrome.
Daenerra and Tabatha on 3 April 2000 in Red Bank, NJ.
And that is the life of Mittsie and our cat family. Mittsie was run over by a car in front of our house on 12 October 2000. She will be greatly missed.
The Big Move
In March 2004 Daenerra and Tabatha were flown out to Las Vegas, NV, to be with Bruce Cornet, who had moved there in late January of that year to take a job as Deputy Administrator of NIDS. Both cats were traumatized by the flight from New Jersey to Nevada, and remained listless and frightened for about a week. On 31 May my job ended at NIDS as Bigelow continued his downsizing and eventual closing of that institution later that year. On 2 June we moved to El Paso, TX, to live with Sharon Eby and her family.
The Ebys had a small dachshund as a pet, named Gadget. Tabatha and Gadget expressed immediate dislike for one another.
Both Tabatha and Daenerra would go outside into the fenced back yard, but Tabatha was able to jump the fence and roam in the desert. Daenerra would not go outside, and always wanted to come back inside when put in the back yard.
Last picture of Daenerra on 20 October 2004.
On 8 November I put her outside because she had not been using the litter pan inside. When I came home from work that day, she was gone, never to be seen again. We suspected she jumped the fence and was picked off by a predator. Sharon said all her cats eventually disappeared into the desert.
We got a third cat (kitten) at the pet store in July 2004. We named him Mel (nickname: "Melicious", because of his penchant for catching and bringing home desert mice - alive, so that he could chase them around the house before killing them. We saved quite a few rodents).
Mel and Gadget got along great. You would think Gadget had adopted Mel as her kitten. They would frequently sleep together.
Mel and Gadget would sometimes play and wrestle on the floor for long periods of time.
Tabatha would chase Mel into a corner and attack him, both screaming, hissing, clawing, and biting. Tabatha would then go outside and disappear for awhile following a fight. We suspect this was a holdover from Red Bank and Butterscotch - a similar-colored but much older male cat that Tabatha disliked just as much, but could not beat in a fight.
Butterscotch on 2 May 2002.
As of November 2005 Butterscotch is still alive and living with Patricia Huff in Virginia. He survived Mittsie and most of her kittens, with the exception of Scully, Flash, and Kyra, who are now living with other families in New Jersey, New York, and Maine, respectively.
Tabatha went outside regularly into the desert around our house near Hueco Tanks, TX, sometimes not coming back for days or even a week. She brought back a suitor one day, and I captured a picture of them mating outside just below the livingroom window.
For several days (18-21 November 2004) Tabatha wanted to sleep with us in bed, and she snuggled against my body - something she rarely did. She showed me more attention than usual, as if she were thanking me for caring for her all of her life. She seemed upset that Daenerra was no longer with us, and may have wanted to go outside looking for her in the desert. Perhaps she feared the same thing would happen to her. She went outside on 22 November, and never came back. The next day a large Great Owl perched on electrical lines near the house and made a strange call for more than an hour before flying away. That is the only time an owl had done that, according to Sharon, and I suspect it had come back looking for more live food. It was probably the predator that got Tabatha and Daenerra.
On 18 February 2006 a new kitten came into our lives in El Paso, TX. It had apparently been abandoned near our desert community (Hueco Tanks), and went underneath the trailer next to our house for protection. She was crying, and obviously hungry. She was all grey, and at least 12 weeks old. We took her in, noting that we had opened our house to a another cat when her owner (Sharon's cousin) had to move out of state. But Debbie was concerned that our cats had all disappeared into the desert. She therefore gave her cat, Demon, to her son. Smokey replaced Demon. And so we had another cat in the house after Mel had disappeared in late August 2005.
Smokey (cat) and Gadget on 19 February 2006.
On the morning of 11 March Smokey apparently left the house through the dog door in the kitchen, and has not come back.
Updated: October 22, 2000
Last updated: 05/30/2023
Copyright B.Cornet 2000