No matter the species, a mother about to give birth is in a pretty vulnerable position. It makes sense that – while labor is something that can and has been done alone – a mother-to-be would at least seek out a safe place to shelter in those moments.
So it’s no surprise when a sweet little stray black cat – who now goes by the name Salami – chose painter Ida Floreak’s house in New Orleans to have her babies in April.
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Salami had been coming by the house pretty frequently since the previous fall to visit with Floreak’s own cat while he hung out on her back stoop.
“She came by and she really liked him,” Floreak told The Dodo. “They’d sniff around each other and she was more interested in him than he was in her. It was definitely clear that she was here to see him — which was sweet.”
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Floreak was happy to foster the relationship and invite the friendly stray to come over whenever she wanted by leaving out some food.
As a result, Salami showed up just about every morning for her free meal and a visit with her friend.
But the little cat wasn’t so keen on Floreak.
Floreak gave it some time since strays are often mistreated by humans and it’s no surprise that this one might be suspicious of human contact, even though she was being fed. Eventually, she hoped she could get ahold of Salami to be sure she got spayed and vaccinated.
But soon she realized she was a bit too late for the first (at least for now). Salami was growing a belly.
“…before she was comfortable enough for that [the vet’s office], she was visibly pregnant.”
As the pregnancy went on, the soon-to-be mom did warm up to Floreak, even allowing the good samaritan to pet her and give her a good brushing.
That’s probably why when Salami went into labor, she rushed to Floreak’s home.
It was an April morning when Salami showed up much earlier than usual. Floreak had assumed she would have the babies on her own and disappear for a few weeks while she cared for them.
“She came by at 5 and was squeaking very insistently in a way that seemed out of character,” Floreak told The Dodo. “So I let her in and she started to have her babies around 8 or 9 in the morning.”
Salami birthed two tiny kittens and then quietly laid on the towels Floreak had set up for her in a bedroom.
But later that night, two MORE little surprises came along!
Floreak was on a Zoom call with friends when she realized what was going on.
“I was super nervous never having seen or done anything like this before,” she said. “But to watch her, it was clear she just knew exactly what to do. It was a really intense experience.”
Because this happened while New Orleans was under quarantine, Salami and her kittens were under Floreak’s care for two months.
And for all that time, Floreak said Salami was a wonderful mother to her babies.
Now that the kittens – Proscuitto, Pastrami, Pancetta, and Pepperoni (Salami’s “little deli meats”) – are old enough, they’ve found new forever homes.
But Salami’s new home is with Floreak.
As for the resident cat, he’s coping. He probably liked it better when Salami was just a visitor, but adopting out the kittens helped.
“He kind of misses having the run of the house, and isn’t really used to the kittens,” Floreak said. “But he and Salami are still getting on.”
It sounds like everyone will live happily ever after.
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