Well, mama cat and her kittens got shipped off to a Happy Home.
Technically speaking, three of the four kittens got shipped off about four days ago. During the ensuing rodeo, mama cat and the calico kitten hauled tail for the alley and didn't show back up until that evening.
I spent the next three days pretending I'm back in the bush and sneaking up on the calico kitten. I'd get within a fingers-length of the little scamp, and she'd turn into a furry streak headed for Goddess-only-knows-where.
Mama cat had no problems whatsoever demanding pettings and food and attention -- I think she probably realizes that winter is coming and has a pretty good idea on which side of the toast her butter (and blankets and fireplaces and warm milk) is on.
Last night, a hint of the winter weather heading this way swept through North Texas. I don't know where mama cat spent the night, but calico kitten spent it under the lawn-mower, on the concrete of the driveway. Not the warmest place in the world.
This morning I put out a cup of food, and sat on the back porch to watch the cats nosh -- as is my wont these days.
Mama cat showed up right skippy, but calico took a long time to stagger out from under the lawn-mower; when she did, she headed immediately for mama cat and started to nurse -- which is kind of odd, because she's been eating solid food for a couple of weeks now.
I watched -- freezing my butt off, I might add -- until mama cat started to figure that calico had had enough, then I ghosted off the porch, across the eight or so feet between the porch steps and the food dish, scooped up calico and was halfway back up the steps before either one of them figured out what had happened.
That little bit was vibrating like a meth-addict on a three-day binge. I'm not sure if it was from fear or the cold, however, I do note that I was fully expecting to grab a handful of Cuisinart in feline form, but she neither bit nor scratched me.
I took her inside, laid down on the sofa, put her on my chest and cupped my hands around her while the dogs whined about cat cooties.
Took about ten minutes, but she finally sighed, spread out for maximum heat transference and went to sleep.
Ten minutes later, the guy who got the other kittens showed up, and I took the gently sleeping, trusting little calico out on the front porch and stuffed her into a cold plastic pet carrier along with her mother.
Now I feel like a traitorous slime.