They-were an unlikely pair — she, an adult Maine Coon, sleek andDignified, elegant and graceful in all of her movements — he, a young,Immature grey tomcat, large and boisterous, playful and quick moving. When they joined our household a year apart, I had no idea whatWas in store for all of us. They nevertheless fell in love, and eventually it became obviousThat Griz was pregnant. I’d never had a pregnant cat, so I consultedThe vet for all the details on what I needed to know, and do, when theTime came for her to give birth. His advice was, basically, provideHer with a safe, comfortable place and then get out of her way, lettingMother Nature take over. Griz went into labor on a Sunday morning, just as we were preparingTo leave for church. I hoped witnessing a miracle might take precedenceOver attendance at Mass just this once, so I decided to allow our sonsTo stay home. The area beside our claw-foot tub had been chosen by Griz as herLabor room, so we prepared a nice soft bed of fluffy towels for her. SheSeemed uncomfortable, and I wished I could do something for her, butThe vet’s advice stayed with me, and I resumed my role as bystander. Gus, however, had not heard the vet’s advice, and would not haveHeeded it anyway. The love of his life was in pain, and he comfortedHer as best he could. He’d go in there and lick her face as if toSay, “I’m here, Griz, and I’ll be by your side every step of the way.”We’ve all heard of expectant fathers pacing the floor in Maternity wards,And Gus did the same, checking in with Griz frequently, softly pettingHer with his paw. The hours passed, and finally the first kitten was born — how coolWas that? Gus helped Griz clean the little creature, as he did withThe other three she eventually produced. I’d been hesitant at firstTo allow him near the kittens because I’d heard of some males eatingTheir young, but he was always such a loving cat that I took the chance.In any event, I don’t think I’d have been able to keep him away. Griz was exhausted from her long labor and delivery, as we allWere from keeping watch, so everyone slept. Over the next few days, the extent of Gus’ devotion soon becameApparent. He would curl up beside Griz when she nursed the kittens,Like he just wanted to keep her company and be close to her and hisLittle family. When it looked like Griz needed a break from mothering,Gus would take her place, curling on his side and allowing the kittens toCuddle up against him. He’d remain in that position for extended periodsOf time, only leaving when one of the kittens tried to nurse. He’d standUp quickly as if to say, “I’ll babysit, but the nursing stuff is OUT!” I’d often find them all asleep together, Mom and Dad curled tightlyAround their babies, all snug and safe in a warm cocoon of feline fur. Gus and Griz groomed the kittens together, washing those adorableLittle faces and holding down a reluctant participant with a firm butGentle paw. When I took Griz to the vet for her checkup, I mentioned what aGreat help Gus was with the kittens, and I asked if that was normal forA male cat, since I’d never had experience with a cat “couple.” He saidHe’d never heard of anything like it! The kittens eventually went to good homes, and their parents seemedTo accept their departures with a minimum of fuss, resuming the routineThat had been normal for them before childbirth (well, kittenbirth!)Their lives were uneventful for a few years, until Gus became ill. The diagnosis of cancer was a blow to us all, but I vowed that we’dFight this thing with everything we had. On the days when he was feelingLow, Griz comforted him, as he’d once done for her. Gussie fought theGood fight, but we lost him when he was only four and a half years old. Griz was inconsolable, and her pitiful cries could be heard allOver the house, as she searched for her faithful companion. She neverStopped looking for him, and would spend hours looking out the windows,Waiting by the door, peering into his favorite hiding places. She wasNo longer interested in playing with their toys, and her shiny coatBecame dull. When she began losing weight, I took her to the vet, whoCould find nothing physically wrong with her. He said some cats justGive up when their companion dies. Griz died a year after Gus — the vet described the cause of deathAs a broken heart. Although I was devastated, I knew she no longermourned for him. I believe they’re together at the Rainbow Bridge,joyous at their reunion, enjoying time with their kittens and grandkittensand great-grandkittens.

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