She knew it was a risk to let the cat sleep in the baby’s room. Her mother had warned her about cats stealing the breath of babies, but the cat’s presence was the only thing that seemed to soothe her newborn.
Melanie had tried everything – singing, extra feeds, co-sleeping. All she had earned were a sore throat, bleeding nipples and sleepless nights filled with nightmares of her rolling onto the baby.
After three weeks of nonstop bawling, she had opened the door and let the pacing ginger cat into the room. He had jumped into the crib immediately and the baby had quietened.
Melanie took a shower, carefully washing her breasts. She had switched to formula feeding a week ago, after the baby had bitten her too many times to endure. She still had marks from the teeth.
The next morning, Melanie found that the baby’s window was opened and there was a trail of feathers on the ground. With a grimace, she realised that the cat must have caught a bird and carried it, bleeding and dying, into the nursery. There was no sign of the bird’s body. The trail lead to the crib, where a purring ginger cat nestled against a peaceful baby, blood upon both of their mouths. The bird was nowhere to be seen, apart from some errant feathers and viscera around the mattress.
As she tidied up the mess, Melanie scratched behind the cat’s ears. She heard the front door close and knew her husband had returned from his nightly wanderings, wondering what sort of bloody laundry he would leave for her this time.
Well, she thought as she listened to the cat’s purr, at least someone is helping out around here.