Those of you on Facebook have probably already read this before, but I'm going to repost it here.
Recently I found a family of cats living on the edge of the woods that border my apartment complex. Being who I am, I started feeding them and earning their trust.
It has been almost two weeks and Mama and the babies are relatively comfortable around me.
Tonight I brought them their food as usual, but instead of waiting for me to call to them, they met me at the edge of the parking lot, meowing and being, as kittens are, rampantly cute.
I sat down with them, which is part of the trust-gaining process. Occasionally I'd reach out and pet a kitten to acclimate them to my touch, but otherwise I sat peacefully and kept watch.
I heard a soft cooing voice, a human voice, off to my right. A girl, younger than me but not by much, was creeping out between two cars, trying her best to be quiet. I smiled at her.
"Aww, little cats!" she said. "I've never seem them so little!"
By that I thought she meant she'd never seen young kittens before. Which I chalked up to not having been around animals much. I made conversation.
"Aren't they cute? I found them a couple weeks ago. I'm trying to get them to trust me so I can take them to a shelter to find homes. The mama cat's all right, but the kittens are still wary."
"Kittens?" she asked.
"Yeah. All six."
"Is that what they're called?"
I was slightly confused. Did she think I named all the kittens "Kitten"? I asked, "What do you mean?"
"Little cats. Baby cats. Do you call them kittens?"
"Y-yes." Did she really not know what baby cats were called?
"Where's the daddy cat? Doesn't he take care of the kittens too?"
Confusion bloomed into bewilderment, but I kept it off my face. "Well, no. The dad doesn't have much to do with them anymore."
She clicked her tongue. "He's a sucky dad then."
This girl caught me completely off guard. I was too flabbergasted to be alarmed when she suddenly reached into the cluster of bodies around the food bowl, which of course provoked all seven into near-teleportation out of there. She jumped back and looked hurt, but only momentarily. Once the newness of the heretofore-unnamed kittens was gone, she lost interest and wandered away, leaving me alone with wet cat kibble, fur on my shirt and a whirlwind in my mind.
Had this girl never, until just an hour ago, encountered even the word "kitten"? Was she never taught that not all animals raise their young like humans do? I thought that was something you learned in primary school. Surely she'd come across a kitten somewhere, at least in an "A is For Aardvark" book...
To the parents and teachers of this child:
Where the hell are you??