Updated: Jan 24
This short story was written in 2022 as part of a fundraiser for EndometriosisUK's 1in10 Challenge.
“Mr Mittens,” Mr Richardson called, leaning out of the living room window. “Here boy!”
“He’s probably hunting, Chester,” said his wife from the couch. She flipped a page in the magazine she was reading. “Let him do his thing. He is a cat.”
“He’s been gone for hours, Mary,” said Mr Richardson. “He’s never been gone for this long before.”
“Maybe because you coddle him too much.” The magazine slapped closed. “He’ll come back. He knows where the food is, Chester.”
“See, I told you he’d come back. You didn’t need to put up those silly posters.” Mr Mittens wound around Mr Richardson’s legs, mewing and chirping. Mary stood in the doorway, her arms folded.
“He’s a bit large, Mary.” Mr Richardson lifted Mr Mittens into his arms. He was much heavier than he remembered. Mr Mittens purred and licked his face.
“He’s probably been cooped up in the neighbour’s house,” Mary said. “They do put out food from time to time. Probably gorged himself silly.”
Mr Richardson frowned and patted Mr Mittens’s belly. “His tummy feels a bit firm. Perhaps I’ll take him to the vet.”
He caught Mary rolling her eyes. “You and that cat. Just remember, you’re footing the bill. I want nothing to do with it.”
The vet studied Mr Mittens carefully, poking and prodding at his large belly. With a frown, she removed the stethoscope.
“So, Mr Richardson,” she asked, “have you ever had your cat checked out? Any microchip? Vaccinations?”
“No, he appeared about two years ago. I assumed his previous owner did all that.”
“Did you get her spayed?”
“Spayed?” Mr Richardson laughed. “Don’t you mean neutered?”
The vet rubbed her face in her hands. “Mr Richardson, you really should have had a proper check earlier. Your cat is pregnant.”
Mr Richardson’s ears twitched. “What?”
“She’s pregnant.” The attendant deftly flipped Mr Mittens onto his (no - her) back while the vet squeezed jelly onto her belly and began making circles with the scanner. She pointed at the monitor.
“There,” she said. Several tiny, cat-shaped blobs appeared on the screen. Mr Richardson stared.
“Well I guess I should start calling her Mrs Mittens,” he conceded.
“He’s what?” Mary shrieked.
“She, Mary. Mr Mittens, as it turns out, is a she. And yes, she’s pregnant.”
Mary looked like she was about to faint. “I told you to get him - her - checked out! How could you fail to notice he was a she? We can’t afford to have a pregnant cat in this house! How are we going to look after the babies? I bet it was that good-for-nothing Fat Bob who did this. His owner has no control over him.”
Mr Mittens mewed pathetically from her carrier. “Well I’ll help her out, Mary,” Mr Richardson said. “I’ll make her a nest, keep her warm, check on the babies, everything. You don’t have to do a thing, dear.”
“That'd better be a promise, Chester, or so help me God.” She spun around and stormed back into the house. Mr Richardson sighed and opened the carrier. Mr Mittens crawled out and rubbed against his leg.
“Well, Mr Mittens,” he said, “it looks like we’re both going to be parents. I can’t promise any child support though." He wagged his finger at her. "No more misadventures for you!"
© Lucinda Elizabeth | 2022