by Alison Mckinnon

Bitsy was coming home. After approx. 2 yrs living with Marie Mahoney in QLD, Sarika Choc Bit was coming home, with her seal point daughter Bits of Sunshine (Sunny) and newly in kitten. A seal point carrying chocolate herself, and mated to Nicole Winney's cream boy Dodge, the possible colour combinations were endless, and coupled with the fact that there are no red or cream cats in Canberra, had us all eagerly anticipating her litter. She settled into the cattery and after a couple of weeks was again enjoying an afternoon roam around the backyard with the other cats in some late spring sunshine.

Some four weeks before her kittens were due, she and the others were let out for their usual evening run. Dinner was served shortly after, but Bitsy did not arrive with her usual enthusiasm. Her tardiness prompted us to call her regularly for the rest of the evening, but to no avail. Thinking she must be caught in someone's garage, or been frightened by a dog, we stopped calling and hoped she would reappear by the morning.

Morning came but brought no Bitsy. Again we called out, hoping she could hear us and would return. The second day passed and we began to realise something was really wrong. We scoured the local streets, knocked on doors and checked drains etc all without a trace. It was like she had vanished off the planet. A letter box drop and ads on local radio lost and found programs followed, asking people to check their garages and garden sheds or to contact us with any information. Our hopes remained poised as the nights remained warm and no rain was forecast. Each night we would set out on foot, calling and hoping to find some trace of her, whilst revelling in the much needed exercise also.

By now a week had passed, our search exhausting every avenue we could think of, wondering where she was, or in fact if she was still alive. The thought that she had become trapped in a garden shed, the only apparent explanation for her sudden disappearance, still not far from the back of our minds. Our hopes for a special litter of kittens fading with each day Bitsy was missing.

Sarika Blue Nikita returned to the cattery to adjust to other cats prior to a show. Her human mum, a daily visitor to the backyard and cattery, was also aware of Bitsy's disappearance and checked for her each day. On one of her visits, she noticed a cat hanging around and mentioned this to Gerry Robinson at the shop that afternoon. He rang Liz at work to tell her that a seal point cat was out, and had been put back into the cattery. Not wanting to let her hopes get too high, Liz assumed it was Bonny, the blue point spay who was free in the backyard during the day. Nevertheless, her curiosity grew to the point where an early mark from work was unavoidable.

I arrived home from a weekend in Sydney to be greeted by a jubilant Liz, with the news that Bitsy was home - two weeks to the day that she went missing. Sure enough the cat seen hanging around was Bitsy. She was a pathetic sight, painfully thin and dehydrated, a skeleton draped in fur, with the exception of a bulging tummy where the kittens were being carried. It must have taken every ounce of her remaining strength to carry herself from where she had obviously been trapped back home and over the fence.

Unable to move for several days she was nourished slowly back to health and gained weight little by little, her rounded stomach still very evident, but unknown to us how the kittens would be, if alive at all. However she continued to regain her strength and that tummy seemed to enlarge with her. Could we nourish her enough to compensate for two weeks without food and much water, enough for her and the unborn kittens? Her appetite had developed with avengence, eating through huge meals every day, raising our hopes that all was not lost. Our questions were answered exactly two weeks after she returned with the arrival on the 23rd of December of seven evenly sized and healthy kittens, four boys and three girls. She looked after them with the greatest of ease, each kitten thriving from day one.

Now the guessing game was on in earnest as to the colour of each kitten. Is that a lilac or cream?, could that be a tortie?, the guessing continued for several weeks. There were in fact two seal boys, a blue boy, a lilac boy, two blue tortie females and a chocolate tortie female. The first Birmans with the red gene to be born in Canberra. The 'licorice allsorts' as they became known showed no ill effects of their journey into the world. Fiesta, Fiasco, Festiva and Ferrari, the three tortie girls and lilac boy have been registered to date, and we eagerly await their show debut. Bitsy also shows no ill effect from her big adventure, but certainly remains very close to the cattery. If only she could tell us where she had been.

Fiesta Fiasco Festiva Ferrari

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