We think we discovered why the mother cat decided to bring the kittens back. We've seen that one of our neighbors will leave plates of catfood out by bushes. Maybe that neighbor doesn't want the cats taking up residence in their patio or something, but anyway, we suspect the mother cat found a nice secluded place near one of the more regularly fed bushes. And we also suspect that someone else has found the plates left out by the neighbor.
Last night, Page was on her window perch, looking outside as she likes to do sometimes. All of a sudden, she must have seen something, because she sat up, apparently in an attempt to get a closer look. She does that when she sees other cats, so we figured it was one of the neighborhood felines as usual, but she did seem a little more in a, "What the--!?" frame of mind than usual. So I got up to see what she was looking at, and I looked outside the window just in time to see the tail of a raccoon disappear out of view.
Of course, this causes the horribly clashing reactions of, "RACCOON♥♥♥♥!" and "OH NO NOT THE HYDROPHOBY!!!"
See, many years ago, when we were in Girl Scouts, we were at one of the Girl Scout camps out in the reasonably local mountains with a whole district campout or something (I don't remember the details, silly!), and there we all were at the campfire with maybe a hundred or more girls, and somehow we were all roasting marshmallows (maybe we were all sitting on the campfire benches and the leaders were roasting marshmallows and handing them out or something), but the point is, the theory is that the smell of the roasting marshmallows is what attracted The Critters. By which of course I mean a couple of raccoons.
All the girls got excited and wanted to see the raccoons and ooh they're so cute awwwwww! ...UNTIL! The camp medic came along and said, "Yes, I know, you all love the raccoons and they're so cute, but WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T TOUCH THEM! Because they might have rabies."
This was the moment the entirety of the camp decided that sleeping in the lodge would be a wiser course than following the original plan, which was to sleep in the camps outdoor bunks. (They had roofs, just no walls.) The entirety of the camp, of course, except for our troop. We were all showoffs or something, and we were like, "As long as you don't leave food out, The Critters will leave you alone. All of you should know this."
Of course, that did lead to an extra thrill when we decided to raid the kitchen for the extra chocolate bars. (Our troop leader was married to the camp cook. We don't know if that makes it more or less acceptable, but I do know that on at least one campout they deliberately brought extra chocolate for that very purpose.)
And the point of all this is that we have now learned to immediately associate raccoons with rabies (unless they're at the zoo!), which is especially terrifying, because if a stray cat gets in a fight with a rabid raccoon, you can bet all the cats in the neighborhood are going to get rabies, and our patio will become ground zero for a zombie cat invasion (I think back when we made the mistake of watching Old Yeller, I mentioned our theory about how rabies is the inspiration for modern zombie lore).
But we've since concluded that if the raccoon was rabid, it probably would have already gotten into a fight and we're doomed anyway, but everybody seems pretty chill and non-rabid (I mean, the kittens play with each other, but they're kittens), so we think things are okay. Nevertheless, it sure is good motivation to call the cat rescue people and see about getting these cats vaccinated if not off to a good shelter (we keep seeing stuff about local shelters being full... :/)
Today I'm thankful for getting to see a raccoon (mostly in my imagination, because I really did only see the tail and a bit of the hindquarters), fond memories of Girl Scout camp, getting to live inside (although nature is suddenly sounding rather appealing; if only it weren't so dusty), black cherry lemonade cornbread, and getting to read plenty of Harry Potter today.