As you know, O.K. and I were away in September (there is still at least one post about hiking in the Black Forest pending).
At the same time, his sister and her husband were away, so that their mother was looking after both places, taking out the mail, watering the flowers; you get the idea.
A couple of days before we were all due back home, she spotted a kitten in the front garden of O.K.'s sister's house. The next day, she realised it was not just one little kitten, but a family - mother and four little ones!
The babies were already a few weeks old, so were not born there. We think that the mother originally lived on one of the nearby farms, had the babies there and at some stage decided she wanted to move to a quieter place. A house where the owners are on holiday is definitely a quiet place, so the garden behind the hedge, with plenty of hiding places such as underneath the covered grill, must have been just what she was looking for.
When O.K.'s sister and her husband (let's call them J and M for convenience) returned, they found themselves transformed from a household without pets to "owners" of an entire cat family!
Efforts were made to find out if anyone was missing their cat(s), but to no avail. At first, the cats were very shy. But after only the second feeding, the mother - still rather young herself - became very attached. A week or so into the new situation, J and M found the little ones widening their range of action to the patio, and the mother showing signs of wanting to come into the house.
Friends and relatives were asked, and soon adoptive "parents" for the cats were found. But of course the little ones were still too small to be taken away from their mother, and so it was decided to keep them together for a few more weeks.
Then, one day, no kittens were to be seen. The mother showed up one more time and then all cats were gone. J and M went looking for them, and a neighbour told them that her husband had rescued a kitten from underneath a car and taken it to the animal shelter.
J and one of the people who wanted to adopt went to the shelter together - where they found out that only five minutes previously, someone had brought the mother and two babies! The third kitten was put with its mother and siblings, but still one was missing.
Posters were printed and put up around the neighbourhood, and not long afterwards, a local lady arrived at the shelter with the fourth kitten.
A happy family reunion was the result, and now all five are safe and just waiting until the little ones are old enough to be taken to their new homes.
(All pictures were taken by J. I have her permission to use them here on my blog and tell the story.)