The birth of Whitie’s cubs and what happened next.
Weeks passed, and Whitie’s time for cubbing was approaching fast. Rowena’s visits to Whitie and Blackie’s lie up had become a regular event, and the white female lion cub was determined to be at the births of Whitie’s cubs. Whitie didn’t mind Rowena being present, for Whitie considered the birth of cubs to be a community thing; everyone should be allowed to witness the birth. As long as she was given space to cope with labour in the way she wanted, Whitie didn’t mind if Allie got the whole community round a large screen and watched the birth live.
Whitie’s labour started in the late morning of a day about three weeks after Rowena’s eyes opened. Whitie was drinking when she felt the first contractions. Finishing her drink, she padded back to her lie up, calling in on Rowena to tell her things were happening. Rowena, very excited, followed Whitie back to her lie up, Asking Whitie when she thought the cubs would be born.
“Maybe not for hours yet,” Whitie mewed, “tell you what, here’s my left forepaw, when I’m having a contraction, I’ll curl the toes of that paw for as long as the pain lasts, then you can tell me when you think the cubs are getting close.” Prior to this, Rowena quizzed Sarafina endlessly about her own birth, what happened at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Sarafina had been a little uncomfortable with the questions, but when she heard Whitie talking about birthing her own cubs, and that Rowena was to be present, Sarafina realised the cub aught to know as much as she could tell her. Leo also chipped in his experience with the birth of Ellie’s cubs, for he’d stumbled upon a birth in progress, Ahanu even chipped in his experiences when he saw Haimati’s birth. Even though she didn’t know Ahanu, Rowena soaked all the information up, asking questions like what kind of things she would hear and see during a birth, what was normal.
Now she was lying beside Whitie, the snow leopard panting and moaning with pain. Rowena, having taken Whitie’s forepaw in hers, had felt the contractions getting more frequent as well as longer and stronger, Whitie panting and wriggling as her discomfort increased. Blackie watched, wanting to be near, but also wanting Whitie to have things how she wished to have them. Hours passed, with nothing much happening. Whitie would get up from time to time, pacing and pawing at the carpet, before lying down and curling into a ball as another crushing pain enveloped her. Blackie didn’t like to see Whitie in pain, let alone to hear it. Her mewing, sobbing and grunting upset him greatly, though he knew he must not leave her. Rowena stayed with Whitie, holding onto her left forepaw as she’d been asked to do. Whitie herself just concentrated on coping with her pain. At the beginning of the fourth hour, Whitie felt a change in the pain, a real urge to push came over her. Whitie braced her paws, panted, and then heaved. Rowena heard her claws scratching the rug as she struggled with the contraction. Whitie opened her mouth and breathed hard, this loosening things up, allowing the cub’s easy passage. Whitie tried to breathe as fleur had suggested, but it all went wrong. Fleur had even admitted to Whitie that when she’d had little Leo, all her training had gone from her head. She just lay and strained as hard as she could when she felt the need. Whitie suddenly shook her left forepaw free of Rowena’s and curled into a ball, reaching for her tail with her forepaws. Rowena wondered what she was doing, when she remembered the female snow leopard’s desire to feel a cub being born. Whitie got paws on, waiting for things to happen, fluid drenching her paws as she felt another contraction building and was forced to push down hard. Then Whitie felt two tiny paws emerging from beneath her tail. Moving her long tail out of the way, Whitie panted, focusing on her paws, ignoring her pain as much as she could. Panting seemed to ease the cub into the world, and Whitie felt the cub’s nose, then its head emerging. Pushing slightly brought the cub’s body into the world, Whitie finding labour more strenuous now she was curled up, but she didn’t care about that. She was experiencing the birth of her cubs in a way she never thought she would, and that was worth all the pain and effort. Mewing, Whitie panted hard, the cub slipping into her paws at last. Whitie gathered her newborn cub to her, feeling other contractions building and spending themselves while she cleaned the cub up. Feeling another cub on its way, Whitie curled up again, catching her second cub in a similar way to her first. Whitie had to strain hard to deliver her second cub, as it was larger than her first, but still managed to catch the cub. Rowena watched all; honoured Whitie should invite her to be present at the births of her cubs. Whitie clenched and wiggled her toes a couple of times, mewing and panting as her body came down from labour, but soon she settled. Nursing her new cubs, Whitie suddenly felt a fierce urge to tell everyone to get out of her lie up. Controlling this by giving herself a mental slapping, she smiled at Blackie and Rowena.
“Thanks,” she mewed. Rowena threw her paws round Whitie, the snow leopard returning her hug.
“Thank you Whitie,” Rowena mewed. Whitie kissed the white female lion cub’s nose.
“Thank you for being there,” Whitie mewed. Rowena took Whitie’s left forepaw in both of hers and began to stroke it, the female snow leopard purring with pleasure.
“That’s lovely,” she mewed, working her paw deeper into Rowena’s. Sarafina arrived after watching Whitie’s labour on camera. She wanted to retrieve her cub, which’s embedded herself with the leopard family in a way she wasn’t comfortable with. Sarafina didn’t much like leopards, but had let Whitie’s request that Rowena help her at the birth of her cubs be for filled. Now Sarafina was anxious to get her cub back. When she entered the lie up, Sarafina found Rowena stroking and massaging Whitie’s paws, the cubs own paws covered in fluid from touching Whitie’s.
“We’d better wash your paws,” Sarafina said to Rowena, hustling her away, to Whitie’s annoyance. Sarafina waited until she was out of sight of Whitie before cuffing her cub.
“You were meant to encourage her to have her cubs, not get paws on with the birth!” Sarafina snarled.
“Whitie wanted me to help!” Rowena mewed, “she wanted me to stroke her paws. She caught both her cubs when they came out, you saw her! I didn’t help with the birth of the cubs!”
“You are getting too close to that snow leopard!” Sarafina yelled.
“Oh, that’s it is it?” Rowena spat, “it’s not the fact I helped Whitie, it’s the fact I got close to her, and you don’t like it. Well you can shove your views mum, for I like Whitie, she likes me, and that’s that. I will not stop going to see her!” Sarafina stood flat pawed, staring at her cub.
“How dare you disobey me!” She yelled. Rowena screwed up her courage and turned tail, walking away. Sarafina was so surprised by her cub’s defiance she didn’t follow. The white lion cub found her path blocked by Samson, who, by his expression, had seen everything.
“Our snow leopards are okay,” Samson mewed, “Theo has told me of a time when all was not well with them, and Whitie is the last of that family, but was not tainted by the family doctrine. Whitie is a kind snow leopard.” Sarafina growled to herself, unable to counter her son cub’s assertions as she knew nothing other than she mistrusted the leopards.
“Go to the bathroom where fleur will help you wash,” Samson mewed to Rowena. To Sarafina’s surprise, Rowena obeyed him. Sarafina stared at her son cub.
“What is it with Rowena and those leopards?” She asked.
“Whitie’s kind and gentle, and likes Rowena a lot,” Samson mewed, “Whitie’s all right.” Sarafina growled to herself, not liking this one bit. Samson padded away, Sarafina leaving for her own lie up.
Meanwhile Whitie and her newborn cubs were getting the once over from Blackie. The black leopard fussed over Whitie and the cubs, examining them with his paws, checking to see if they were all right, Whitie loving every minute.
“We’re fine Blackie,” she laughed as his paws worked over hers.
“You were wonderful!” He mewed, kissing her nose. Whitie smiled.
“Just wait until you get paws on with our cubs,” she mewed. When Blackie got paws on with the first cub, the tiny creature cuddled close to him, Blackie’s eyes filling with tears. Sniffing hard, he ran his paws gently over the cub from its nose to its paws, amazed he’d helped to create something so wonderful. The cub seemed to like best when its paws were held in Blackie’s, maybe the tiny form had cold paws and wanted to keep them warm.
“I’ve got the other cub,” Whitie mewed, “we’ll swap cubs and you can meet your second born. The cub you just hugged was male; the one in my paws is female.” Blackie took the second cub in his paws as if in a dream. This cub was less tactile, snarling and spitting, along with slapping paws replacing the all consuming urge to have warm paws. The female cub was aggressive, as Blackie knew wild leopards were when adult, though the male was placid, too placid maybe.
“Is our eldest cub all right?” Blackie asked. Whitie smiled:
“Yes,” she mewed, “he’s just gentler than his sister.” Blackie tried to calm the angry cub, but she’d have none of it.
“Things aren’t that bad,” Blackie mewed to the cub, the tiny form turning her head and spitting at him.
“I want my paws warmed,” the male cub whimpered, “I’m freezing!”
“That’s all you want!” His sister snapped, “You’re too soft!” Whitie sighed heavily.
“Disagreement already, and they’re only hours old,” she mewed.
Bess padded in, saw the cubs and threw her paws round Whitie!
“You’ve had your cubs, how wonderful!” She barked. Blackie snarled at her.
“Get away from our cubs!” He snapped.
“It’s okay,” Whitie mewed, “this is Bess, the sheepdog, and surely you remember her?” Blackie thought for a minute and remembered the sheepdog.
“She’s looking after our cubs with us, keeping them safe.” Blackie looked at the shaggy dog.
“What gives you the authority to bust in on our family?” Blackie asked.
“No authority,” Bess replied, “just a request from Whitie that I help her look after her cubs whenever she had them. Now she’s got them, my employment starts.” Blackie looked at Whitie.
“Is this dog going to be here all the time?” He asked.
“No,” Whitie mewed, “she’s here in case we want to have some time away from our cubs, and then she’ll keep them safe.” Blackie was happy with that.
Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Rowena was getting thoroughly washed by fleur and Sarafina, who’d joined her cub after the altercation with Samson. Rowena had never been bathed before, but soon got the hang of it, finding she loved the water, splashing and playing in it. Sarafina watched her cub:
“You’re clean now,” Sarafina mewed. Fleur helped Rowena out of the water and dried her off. Rowena loved the drying process, rolling and wriggling with pleasure when she was dried from ears to paws, Rowena padded back to her lie up. On the way, she was stopped by Whitie’s eldest male cub, him having escaped from her lie up.
“Hello little’n,” Rowena said, thinking how silly she must sound being a cub herself. The snow leopard cub crawled towards Rowena until he found her forepaws with his and then sat up, trying to reach for her with his forepaws. Rowena smiled, picked the tiny creature up and put him on her back, carrying him back to Whitie’s lie up, where Whitie herself was panicking big time.
“I’ve got your cub,” Rowena mewed, “he came looking for me I think.” Whitie sighed with relief.
“Thank you,” she said. Rowena placed the cub on the rug and rolled onto her side, gathering him close, the cub purring contentedly. Rowena couldn’t help purring as she felt the tiny male snow leopard cub cuddling close, his large paws working into her fur for warmth. Whitie listened to their interaction, loving what she heard. She could feel how utterly contented her eldest cub was as much as she could feel the discontent of her younger cub. Whitie was worried, for her younger cub was so angry it made her fear for her. Spitting and snarling seemed to be her way of communication, Whitie had heard no words from her youngest cub yet, though her eldest cub was talkative, asking for warmth, for food, to be hugged, that sort of thing. Whitie’s youngest cub’s aggression made her anxious, for the cub seemed to let her snarling and slapping paws do the talking. She didn’t ask, or demand like ordinary cubs, she demanded aggressively. Whitie fed her cubs, the eldest cub holding his own against his younger but more forceful sister by dint of weight alone. When she struck out at him, the male cub seemed to shrink away, avoiding confrontation with the raging fury.
“She’s not very impressed,” Blackie mewed. Whitie kept her paw between the two cubs, separating them so they couldn’t scrap. The placid male drank his fill of milk, crawling away horridly to get out of his sister’s way. Whitie heard her cub’s paws scuffing on the carpet as he fled, and the sound sadden her.
“What’s upsetting you?” She asked her youngest cub. The female cub cocked an ear at her.
“I don’t like him,” she mewed, “he’s a wimp!”
“Your brother’s very gentle,” Whitie mewed. The female cub spat at her mother, then crawled towards her brother to slap him. Whitie, realising the cub’s intentions, blocked her attack, the female cub’s paws slapping Whitie’s rather than the male cubs. Whitie snarled at her youngest cub, cuffing her hard. The cub’s squeal brought Blackie running in.
“What the hell’s going on?” He demanded.
“Just teaching this violent madam not to go after her brother,” Whitie mewed.
“Leave me alone!” The female cub wined. Whitie sighed heavily, wondering what on earth she was to do. Her female cub seemed bent on making the life of her older sibling hell.
“What’s your problem?” Whitie asked the female cub.
“I just hate my brother, that’s all,” she mewed in reply. Whitie felt as if she was drowning. She feared the relationship between her cubs would end up like the one she and Blanche had at the end of Blanche’s life, with Blanche hating Whitie for no reason at all.
“Your brother’s not about to pick a fight with you,” Whitie mewed, “so you have no reason to pick a fight with him!” The cub spat and slapped at Whitie’s paws, Whitie becoming angry and distressed.
“Why don’t you just leave your brother alone!” She yelled.
“Leave your brother alone!” The female cub mocked. Whitie clenched her paws in anger, wanting so much to hit this cub so hard she’d never forget it. The female cub slapped and mocked some more, Whitie getting more and angrier, while her eldest cub cowered beside Blackie.
“Get him out of here!” Whitie snarled, Blackie obeying her, picking up the male cub and running for the door. When she was sure her eldest cub was out of the way, Whitie got to her feet, picked up her remaining cub and shook her so hard her teeth rattled. Dumping her on the floor, Whitie collapsed onto the rug.
“That is only a taste!” Whitie yelled. The female cub whimpered and wined with fear and misery.
Meanwhile Blackie and their eldest cub played together. The male cub, named Namir by his sire, Namir
being an Israeli name meaning leopard.
Blackie and his newborn cub rolled on the carpet in
“I feel like I
want to hit this cub so hard that she can’t sit down for a week!” Whitie sobbed when she felt
“She’s a little
angry isn’t she,”
“Take that!” The cub yelled.
“You’ll kill her!” Whitie mewed, horrified.
“But that sounded
as if you hit her really hard!” Whitie
“If you strike
something in a certain way with your paw,” she mewed, “it will sound worse than
it is. My paw made contact with your
cub, but not as hard as all that. I could
demonstrate, but I’m not into slapping my friends about for
demonstrations.” Whitie hugged
your cub Namir are safe,”
“Namir?” Whitie asked.
“That’s the name Blackie gave to your male cub, it’s an Israeli name meaning leopard.” Whitie smiled.
“I like it,”
she mewed, “I don’t think I’ll name my younger cub just yet, just in case,
“I understand,” she mewed, licking Whitie’s ear. Whitie sniffed, trying not to cry.
“It’s no matter,”
“But maybe my cub has problems we can work through,” Whitie mewed.
“No Whitie, not this cub,” Simba mewed, padding into the room, “she’s a pawful and no mistake.”
“How can I control her?” Whitie asked.
“Give her to me,” he mewed. Whitie clung to Simba’s paws.
“Don’t hurt her!” She begged. Simba looked into Whitie’s sightless eyes.
“It’s not my wish to harm out of spite,” Simba mewed. Whitie’s paws tightened on his.
“Do what you feel is right,” she mewed. Simba suddenly turned and snapped at something which squealed with fear!
“What are you doing!” Whitie demanded.
“Warning off a female snow leopard cub,” Simba growled, “she was about to try and hit me.” Whitie felt Simba’s turmoil in the touch of his pads against hers.
confused Simba Kizungu,”
“I am fighting
between obeying the law of the wild and the law of our community,” his eyes
“Do what you feel is right,” her eyes replied. Simba looked down at the female snow leopard cub cowering beside him.
“Think yourself lucky you are not dead!” He snarled. Whitie felt the sweat break out on the pads of Simba’s paws.
“We will go,”
“What’s the matter?” He asked gently. The female cub spat at him.
“I don’t need you!” She yelled, “You can get lost!” Simba saw Rowena pad up to him and felt her rest her paw on his and her head on his shoulder. Simba felt strange, knowing his half sister was standing beside him. As the toes of the paw holding his curled around his own, Simba felt comforted. Barely out of cubhood, he looked at the six week old white female cub beside him? Rowena kissed Simba’s nose, her paw still tightly holding his.
“You will be okay,” she mewed. Simba swallowed hard and looked back at the female snow leopard cub. Lying down, he addressed the cub:
“I cannot end a life so recently begun,” Simba mewed, feeling Rowena’s toes massaging his, “so I will let you live, but hear me little leopard, you do anything to upset your brother or any other cub or adult in this community, I’ll break your neck.” The female cub snarled at him:
“Simba, you are weak, bet your mother wouldn’t have let me go!” Rowena screamed as the snow leopard cub leapt at Simba’s face! A screaming roar filled the air and Simba felt the wind of something passing his nose at great speed! There was a smack, a thud, then nothing. Simba lay, his face buried in his paws.
“What do you
want done with this?”
“Bury her deep,” Rowena replied, for Simba was too shocked to speak.
“I’ll do it,” Sarafina mewed, “you stay with Simba Petra. Whitie, galloping in, demanded to know what on earth was going on.
“The female snow leopard cub tried to
scratch out Simba’s eyes,” Rowena mewed, “
“Is my cub all right?” Whitie asked.
“The question Whitie, should be is Simba okay,” Rowena replied, “That bloody cub launched an attack on him!”
“Watch your language!” Sarafina yelled.
“My cub is important to me!” Whitie yelled.
“Your cub lost the right to live the minute she attacked Simba,” Rowena mewed.
“Simba was going to spare your cub’s life Whitie!” Samson said. Whitie turned an ear his way.
“He even lay down to present a less threatening posture to the cub, and all she did was take advantage! The bitch!” Theo roared, pounding into the lie up.
“Happy families,” Nanuq said, padding into the room, escorting a frightened male snow leopard cub and his sire back to the den.
“What happened?” He asked, knowing the answer.
“That cub was
about to scratch your eyes out,”
“You didn’t just
stop her though,” Simba mewed, “she’s dead isn’t she.”
“Yes,” she mewed, very ashamed.
“Your mum saved you Simba,” Rowena mewed, padding in and taking his paw in hers. Simba looked at Rowena, and knew she spoke truth.
“I thought you would never, could never take life,” Simba mewed, “have I got you wrong mum?”
“I had to do
things in the cause of protecting my cub which I normally wouldn’t do,” she
mewed. Surely that’s understandable?” Simba looked into his mum’s eyes, and
realised in a flash he came so close to not being able to do such a simple
thing. The look in his mum’s eyes, plus
the realisation he’d come to filled Simba with remorse for even challenging
“Thank you mum,” Simba choked, wishing he were somewhere else.
“I think that’s more like it,” Rowena mewed. Simba looked at her.
“I wanted to do
it,” Simba mewed, “but I couldn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to, well, you
“You had no anger to drive you, because you hadn’t been hurt by that particular cub,” she mewed, “you need to get angry for others than yourself Simba, feel anger and sorrow for little Namir, who couldn’t get a drink of milk because his sister kept slapping and spitting at him. You are not a selfish lion, but you need to learn to get angry on a community scale now you’re deputy leader. You want to make these huge choices about community life, who stays or goes, and sometimes you need to make choices as to who lives or dies.” Simba looked at his mum.
“You made that choice,” he mewed, “you decided to kill that cub, and it wasn’t just for my sake. You went against your principles of non violence to protect me and the community.”
“My family and
community come first,”
“Mum, again, thank you,” he said.
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