New beginnings.


Theo lay in his lie up weeping into his paws which were covered in his own blood.  He’d been biting the toes of his left forepaw to take his mind off his mental anguish, and now the paw was bleeding and infected.  He’d refused visitors for four days now, and did not want to see anyone.  He ate little, and when he did, eat, ate late at night, when noone was about to see him.  Now he was miserable, his left forepaw was infected and he felt dreadful.  Theo could understand why Elsa had died; she’d challenged Samson to a fight and lost.  The huge lion had even done her the courtesy of letting her decide whether to carry on the fight once he’d punished her for snapping at Leo.  Elsa had elected to fight the larger lion, and now she was dead.  The fact of Elsa’s death wasn’t the thing which tore him to bits; it was the realisation that someone who he’d loved so much was no longer with him.  Theo was sick of waking to find he was alone.  He dreamt about Elsa, and sometimes fancied he could feel her paws holding him tightly.  These dreams would end in Theo waking, crying because his mate was not with him.  All this had started three weeks ago, and now Theo was physically and mentally wrecked.  He couldn’t face seeing others in the community, couldn’t even face stepping outside his lie up some nights.  Theo knew he had to move on, to try and live life, but he couldn’t, he’d not got the strength to do it on his own.


Petra wandered in one day, after not seeing her sire for a few days.  She’d been keeping a secret eye on him via the cameras, and though wanting to help, hadn’t disturbed him until now.  Now she saw things were desperate, and knew she must help Theo before things got really serious.  When he saw her Theo lost it!

      Petra, get out!”  He yelled.

     “No,” Petra mewed.  Theo launched himself at her, furious she’d invaded his den.  Claws extended, Theo attacked Petra, the white lioness putting down his attack with a swiftness and professionalism which had Theo later wondering where she’d learned her tricks.  Theo found himself on the floor, and couldn’t work out how he’d got there.  He couldn’t remember attacking Petra.

       “How did I end up on my back?”  Theo asked.  Petra looked down at him.

       “You attacked me,” she said flatly.

       “Why?”  Theo asked.

     “For coming into your den,” Petra mewed.  Theo looked at his cub.

       “How could I do such a thing?”  He asked.

       “You attacked her Theo, and you should pay for it!”  Jespah spat.

       “Shut up and piss off!”  Petra snarled at her brother.

      “Oh sorry,” Jespah whimpered, slinking away.

       “You came into my den, and I, I attacked you?”  Theo asked, clearly not remembering anything.

      “You have been in a world of your own ever since Elsa’s death,” Petra said, “Theo; I’ve watched you tearing yourself to bits, quite literally sometimes!  You’ve been biting at your left forepaw, which is now infected and painful no doubt.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t grieve for Elsa, but this isn’t grief, this is self destruction!”

       “I can’t describe what I’ve been feeling since Elsa’s death,” Theo mewed, “I’m lost, bereft and intolerably lonely.  I need to make sense of Elsa’s death in my own time.  I know she fought Samson and he won, but why did she fight Samson?”

      “Because she was a silly lioness who thought she was queen of the jungle,” Petra mewed, “Elsa knew nothing!  She didn’t know Samson.  She thought she knew wild, but she didn’t.  She thought wild meant violent, but wild is not violent.  It can be violent, but it’s not violence for the sake of it.  Elsa thought that if she only managed to beat up the one she hated, she’d gain the upper paw.  That’s not the case.  Samson showed her compassion after giving her a hiding.  Once he’d showed her in her own language what he felt about her, he offered to leave her alone, but she wanted more, so he gave her more, and killed her.  Samson wanted to be non violent, wanted to leave it at that, but Elsa didn’t want to.  Samson isn’t violent by nature, but he can be if needed.  Elsa died because she was stupid, not because of anything Samson forced her into.  It was Elsa who snapped at Leo’s head.  She could have yelled at him.  Yelling at the cub for voicing his opinion would have been considered an overreaction, but Elsa went way past that, snapping at Leo’s head.  Samson couldn’t have that, so he pounced on Elsa and slapped her about a bit, as anyone would if their cub was threatened.”

      “I asked him to stop,” Theo mewed, “and he did, I remember now.”

      “Yes ~Samson stopped,” Petra replied, “he stopped until Elsa told him in no uncertain terms she wanted to fight him.  Then Samson fought Elsa, winning paws down.”

     “Elsa knew what she was doing then,” Theo mewed, “she knew she was going to her death.”

      “Samson even said as much,” Petra mewed, “he warned her Theo!  He said “if I carry on I will kill you.”  Those were his exact words.  I can verify that too,”

      “I know you caught it all on camera,”   Theo said quickly, “and I’d rather not see it.”  Petra looked at her sire, still lying on the floor.

       “Samson did nothing wrong Theo,” she mewed.  Petra helped Theo to his paws, the lion limping badly on the paw he’d bitten.

       “It’s painful isn’t it Theo,” Petra mewed.  Theo nodded.

      “I didn’t notice the pain until now,” he mewed, “not like this anyway.

      “We can get that seen to,” Petra mewed, “if we don’t you might have problems.”  Theo knew the problems Petra referred to, and they were not trivial ones.  Blood poisoning was about the worst thing imaginable, and Theo knew if his paw wasn’t treated, he could end up in a lot of trouble.  Theo padded painfully towards Fleur’s lie up, meeting the large cat.

      “You look dreadful,” fleur mewed to Theo, the lion looking sadly at her.

      “I need your help,” he mewed, “plain and simple, I’m in trouble!”  Fleur looked at Theo’s paw, the lion whimpering with pain as fleur touched his infected paw.

       “If even this is hurting you,” fleur mewed, “I will have to knock you out to properly examine you.  Paw massage won’t do it this time; I think we need to give you a drug to knock you out.”  Theo, now in dreadful pain, ate the plant fleur gave him.  Theo chewed and swallowed the plant, even though it tasted disgusting.  Soon he was unsteady on his paws, and lay down, the room spinning and going out of focus.  Theo settled down, his head resting on his good forepaw.  Fleur touched the cornea of Theo’s left eye, making sure the lion was out for the count.  Theo never stirred, but fleur knew the plant would only work for an hour or so.  Kodiak quickly used a sharp knife to lance the infected paw, fleur washing the wound with warm water.  She knew Theo would be screaming by now if he was conscious.  Once the wound was washed, fleur checked the rest of Theo’s paw for damage.  Finding none, she dressed his paw with special bandages the boss had got for her.  Fleur then asked Kodiak to use a syringe to inject Theo with anti biotic, the bear showing how amazing his paws really were.  The bear manipulated the syringe with one paw, the injection going well.  The operation on Theo’s paw lasted half an hour.  Fleur enlisted Nanuq’s help to carry the lion back to his den, which had been cleaned up and sanitised so his paw could heal.  Theo woke slowly, feeling dreadful.  The pain in his paw had subsided, but he felt sick.  Petra was there to comfort him, and held his uninjured paw while he vomited into a bucket.  Sobbing with fear and discomfort, Theo clung to Petra.

      “What’s happening to me?”  He asked, retching and vomiting.

      “The drug is making you sick,” Petra mewed, stroking Theo’s good paw.

      “Remind me never to bite my paw again!”  Theo screamed, trying to be sick once more when there was nothing to bring up.  Theo now knew how Simba must have felt while trapped by Winifred.  Petra embraced Theo, the lion crying like a cub.

       “All this because I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone!”  He cried.  Petra hugged Theo tightly, the lion calming down after a while.  Theo looked miserably at his injured paw, wishing he’d never started biting it.

      “I’m sorry I put you all through this,” he said.  Petra massaged Theo’s body and his three good paws, the lion purring and mewing with pleasure.  He couldn’t remember attacking his adopted cub, and Petra hoped he never would remember it.  She knew the memory of leaping at her would torture him as the memory of what Petra had been forced to do to Leo had done to her.  Theo fell asleep, his head resting on Petra’s shoulder.  Simba padded into the lie up and curled up beside his mum.  Petra looked at her Son cub and laid her paw on his.

      “Theo’s asleep,” she mewed.  Simba looked at the tawny lion’s bandaged paw.

       “Do you think he’ll bite his paws again?”  He asked, “Fleur said the operation was successful.”

      “I think he needs his mind taking off of things,” Petra mewed, “maybe you and Samson could think of a job for him?”

       “Community ambassador?”  Simba suggested.

      “Community what?”  Petra asked, “What’s an ambassador?”

       “It’s a representative of the community, or of a country,” Simba mewed.  Petra looked at Theo, with his untidy mane and bandaged paw.

      “He looks like a refugee, not an ambassador,” Simba mewed, following his mum’s gaze.

       “Everyone would think we mistreat the members of our community if Theo went out looking like this,” Petra mewed, “we can’t let him go out like this!”  Theo stirred slightly.

      “Let me go out looking like what?”  He asked sleepily.

      “With sticking up mane and a bandaged paw,” Simba mewed.

     “I suppose I do look a bit of a mess,” Theo mewed, snuggling closer to Petra, who hugged him tenderly.

      “What do you have in mind for me?”  Theo asked.

       “The job of community ambassador,” Simba mewed, “you would do well promoting the community.”  Theo looked at the white lion.

        “What good would I do?”  He asked, “I’m no ambassador.”

      “You love the community, you know it well, you can retell some of the history of the community, and you’re a very approachable lion,” Petra said.  Theo smiled despite his misgivings.

      “So when my paw’s better, I go out and bang the drum for this place?”  Theo asked.

      “Yeah,” Simba mewed, “that’s about it.  Though we’re not forcing you into anything.  You wanted something to take your mind off of things.”

      “I’d go insane if I didn’t do something,” Theo mewed, “but noone in their wildest moment would ever approach a lion!  It would be better if I was a bear, bears are cuddly, lovable creatures, and lions aren’t!  We’re the kings and queens of the jungle, and for what reason, because we are ruthless killers!  Tigers would be kings if they weren’t so nervous of others.  Approach a tiger and they’ll walk away, do the same to a lion and he’ll eat you.  Lions aren’t cuddly.”

      “I would approach you,” Someone said, “Indeed, I was sent in here by a lion with a long mane to talk to someone who knew what this community was all about.”  The lions looked towards the door, and saw a strange sight.  It looked at first like a bear dressed in a tweed suit.  The newcomer also had leather shoes on its hind feet.  Closer inspection revealed the suited newcomer to be a spectacled bear standing on its hind legs, a spectacled bear wearing a suit!

      “What on earth are you wearing all that for?”  [Petra asked, trying not to laugh.

       “I know, I know!”  The bear spat, “I’m sorry, it’s, well, let me explain.  First, is there anything to drink round here, tea? Beer?”  Simba looked at Petra, trying not to laugh helplessly.

      “Better get him tea,” Simba mewed, covering his mouth with his paw.

      “Don’t laugh,” Petra hissed, “remember you’re deputy leader now!”

      “”he looks, looks so funny!”  Simba replied, getting up and running from the room.

       “Could you help me get all this stuff off?”  The bear asked, “I don’t like wearing it, and I can’t undo any of the buttons or remove the shoes from my hind paws!  I’ve tried, but they won’t come off!”

       “We can’t do it,” Theo mewed, “we’re cats, and haven’t got the dexterity in our paws.  The bears have though.  Wait here, I’ll get Kodiak to help.”  Theo hobbled away, returning with Kodiak who took one look at the bear in his suit and grinned hugely.

      “I know it looks stupid,” the bear said, “Will you please get me out of it?”  Kodiak stood on his hind legs, then, raking a paw down the front of the jacket, ripped it in two.  Tugging the jacket off the bear, he then attacked the trousers, finally asking the bear to sit down and relax his hind paws, Kodiak unhooking the laces and removing the bear’s rather ornate shoes.  Beneath all the human clothing, this bear was an ordinary spectacled bear, one with a story to tell.

     “Let’s get you a drink,” Simba mewed, padding into the room with the handle of a huge pot containing tea in his mouth, Kodiak pouring the tea into a huge mug.

      “Thanks,” the bear said, settling back and taking the tea.

      “What’s your tale?”  Theo asked.

      “Maybe we’d better have full council,” Simba mewed, “a meeting of the entire community to hear his tale?”

     “Good idea,” Theo mewed, “I’ll take the message now.”

      “You’ve got to have another injection Theo,” Kodiak said, “It’s time for your anti biotic booster.”  Theo cursed.  He hated injections, the thought of them made him whimper like a cub.

      “I’ll hold him down if you’d like,” Petra mewed.  Theo swore under his breath.

       “Nice language,” Simba said, pretending huge offence.

       “If you hated injections like I do, you’d be saying the same thing!”  Theo protested.  Kodiak left and returned with the syringe, Theo’s eyes terrified at the sight of it.  Kodiak washed his paws with dry gel, and then snapped the cover off the needle.

      “Hold still,” Kodiak said gently, poising the needle over Theo’s right flank.  Theo felt Petra’s huge paws gently restraining him, and he knew he could not escape.  Whimpering with fear, he watched Kodiak settle himself.  The bear stroked Theo with gentle care, the lion trembling beneath the bear’s paw.

       Just get it over!”  Theo snarled, digging his claws into the carpet.  Kodiak gently pushed the needle into Theo’s flank, the lion squealing like a cub!

      All done,” Kodiak said, gently pressing down on the injection site with the pads of one paw.  His work done, Kodiak slipped the used needle and syringe into a bag and sealed it, Theo whimpering with fear.

       “No more for another two days,” Kodiak said gently.  Theo told him where he could shove his injections.

     “We can try that,” Kodiak replied, “but I would recommend injecting the anti biotic into your rump, not mine.”

     “I didn’t mean that!”  Theo snapped, “Now get out!”  Kodiak left, giving Theo a dirty look.

       “You didn’t have to be so harsh on him,” Petra mewed, “he’s only doing his job Theo!”

      “I’m sorry,” Theo mewed, “and I will apologise to him too.  I just hate needles, and that bear turning up with one finished me.  I hate injections so much Petra!”  I was fearful fleur would stick needles in me when she proposed the operation on my paw, but she didn’t.  Now Kodiak’s using me as a bloody pin cushion!”

       “One injection hardly elevates you to the status of pin cushion,” Simba mewed.  Theo growled at him.

       “Oooh, well stressed I see,” Simba mewed.  Theo turned away, too embarrassed and upset to continue being angry with Simba.

       “I’ll go and round up the community,” Theo mewed.  The sound of heavy, well furred paws entering the room made everyone look round.  Bess, the Old English sheepdog lumbered in, grinning at the lions.

       “Maybe I’d better take the message,” she said, “I think I’m the one who rounds up things.  Sheep mostly, but I can herd lions, even big cat cubs.  I’ve been looking after silver and Leo.  They didn’t like my presence at first, but when Blackie and Nick insisted they let me tag along, they had no real choice.  Oh yeah, I’ve got some news, Whitie’s in cub.”  Petra smiled:

      “Wonderful news!”  She mewed, “now, please Bess, if you would, take the message which Simba will give you now.”

       What message?”  Simba asked, “I’ve got no message for the community.”

       “Tell them to gather in the main room of the house at sundown, having eaten and settled any cubs which aren’t mobile on their paws yet,” Petra mewed.  Simba squeezed his mum’s paw.

      “Thanks,” he said, kissing her nose.”  Bess ran off with the message.

       “Let’s get you some food,” Petra said to the spectacled bear.  The bear followed Petra to the kitchen where Brunetta, now in charge of food preparation, soon had fruit and the usual fish and vegetable mix ready for the bear.


Once the bear had eaten his fill and drank yet another cup of tea, Petra led him to her lie up, where the bear settled down and slept a little.


Waking in the early evening, the spectacled bear got to his paws, finding the sensation of carpet under paw strange.  Shaking himself, he looked round him, seeing the white lioness lying beside him.

     “What’s your name?”  Petra asked the bear.

      “My name’s Orson,” the bear replied, “my tale is a strange one for wild animals.”  Petra waved her paw.

       “Let’s hear that when we’re all gathered tonight,” she said, “oh, and by the way, we’re not wild here.  Do you think all this is wild?  No it’s not.  We live here because a human lets us stay here.”  Orson looked scared.

      “I’ve only just escaped from human domination!”  He yelled.

      “It’s not like that here,” Petra mewed, “our human, we call him the boss, though he’s rarely bossing us about, never actually, is a kind and gentle man human.  He just keeps the place ticking over, we live our own lives.  He won’t be at the council meeting tonight, but he will know you’re here, and will be watching us.  We’ve got cameras all over this place, watching out for everyone.  Orson wondered how large this community really was.  He expected to see around twenty to twenty five in the group, no more.


That night, all the community gathered in the large living room, Orson surprised and a little anxious when he saw the numbers of different animals which entered the room, and they just kept arriving.  Snow leopards, pandas, polar bears, tigers, lions, a puma, several dogs, and three brown bears.  Some of the adult animals had cubs with them, especially a white tigress who seemed to be marshalling cubs round her which were clearly not her own, though they seemed to be comfortable with her.


Orson then saw the large lion he’d first met in the garden padding into the room.  This lion was huge with a very long mane which lay flat on his head and hung down in long locks.  The lion had a long fringe, so thick that it was miraculous he could see at all.  The huge lion padded over to Simba and sat down beside him.  Simba glanced at Samson as he settled down.

       “This newcomer says he has a story to tell,” Simba mewed.  Samson looked round him, spotting the spectacled bear.  Beating the carpet with a paw for silence, Samson commanded the room, looking into the eyes of every animal assembled there.  Some met his gaze, others lowered their eyes, instinctively unable to meet the gaze of the king of beasts.  Samson looked at Orson:

      “Please, tell us your name, and then recount your tale,” he mewed.  Theo, to Samson’s right, wasn’t looking at Orson, or taking any notice of Samson.  He’d seen something.  A large, rather fat lioness had padded into the room losing herself among the animals.  Theo knew it wasn’t Portia, nor Leona, this lioness was a newcomer.  Orson’s tale faded into the background as Theo watched the lioness.  She had anxious eyes and nervous paws, her toes picking at the carpet as she sat watching proceedings. Orson told his tale, a tale of performing in a side show at a fairground, but Theo wasn’t listening.  This lioness consumed his attention totally.  Padding over to her, Theo sat down beside her, noticing the flash of anger in Samson’s eyes as he realised Theo wasn’t attending to Orson’s tale.  Theo took the lioness’s paw and they crept from the room as noiselessly as Theo’s injured paw would allow.  Finding somewhere quiet, Theo settled down, the lioness still silent and anxious.

       “Please,” Theo said, “tell me your tale.”  The lioness looked at him, trying to moisten her dry mouth with her tongue.

       “I, I just walked into the house, the door was open, and I walked in.  Everyone seemed to be going to the main room so I followed.  I don’t know where I am, I’m frightened, in cub, and desperate for somewhere safe!”

        “Elsa all over again,” Theo thought, the memory of his mate saddening him.

       “Did I say something?”  The lioness asked, noticing Theo’s expression.

      “No,” Theo mewed, “how could you know.”

      “Know what?”  The lioness asked.  Theo told her about the day he met his late mate.  The tale poured from him, in detail which surprised him.  It was as if he was reliving Simba and liana’s births in real-time, like they were watching a video of a cubbing.  The lioness listened, then, when Theo finished, placed her paw on his.

        “That lioness became your mate?”  She asked.

      “Yes,” Theo mewed, “she died three weeks ago.”  The lioness hugged Theo as tightly as she dared.

      “I’m sorry,” she mewed.  Theo realised this lioness wasn’t young.  Indeed, in cub though she was, she was about ten years old.  Their peace was shattered by Samson’s arrival, the huge lion angry with Theo for deserting the meeting.

      “Theo, how dare you,” he began, that was until he saw the lioness.  Samson’s eyes widened and he took a second look, although the scent of the newcomer was unmistakable.

      “What the hell are you doing here Sarafina!”  Samson yelled, “I told you never wanted to see you again!”

      “Is she an old flame of yours?”  Theo asked.  Samson nearly hit him!

      “No Theo,” Samson snarled, “Sarafina’s my mother!”

       “We usually call our mothers mum, or in the more archaic dialect “mother,” Theo replied, “we call our sire by his birth name.”

       “I call her Sarafina because that’s her name, and she’s been a thorough bitch to me!”  Samson yelled, “The term mum is a term of endearment, and I don’t want to know this lioness!”

       “What is your name?”  Sarafina asked Samson, the large lion turning tail on her and walking away very distressed.

       “You don’t remember me do you,” Theo asked.  Sarafina looked closely at Theo, her mind flicking back almost seven years.

      “Theodore?”  She asked, “You had a brother named Leo didn’t you.  You stuck by my cub when I abandoned him.”

        “Yes,” Theo mewed, “now your cub is leader here, and he’s very upset with you.”

       “Pleading with my own Son for a place to stay,” Sarafina mewed, “what a mess this is!”  Samson stamped back into the room, his expression telling Theo and Sarafina of his confusion and distress.

       “I don’t know what to do!”  Samson mewed.

      “Talk with Simba,” Theo suggested.  Samson stared at Theo, then turned and went in search of the white lion.  Finding Simba, Samson told him everything.

       “So Sarafina’s your mother,” he said, “and you don’t know whether you can give her a home?”

     “Theo found her,” Samson mewed, “I know we have an obligation to give shelter to any animal in need, and Sarafina is in need, for she’s in cub.  I don’t know her story yet.  At the same time, she’s my mother, and treated me with disrespect bordering on hatred.  I don’t know why this was.  I did nothing to deserve that!”

       “Let me see her,” Simba mewed, “then I will tell you what to do.”  Samson padded away, finding Sarafina and dragging her unceremoniously to an audience with Simba, while slapping her with his paws, as well as snarling and growling at her the whole time to scare the crap out of her.  Sarafina was dejected and miserable by the time she reached Simba’s place, for Samson had dragged her the long way round.  While not doing her harm, he’d made it quite clear to Sarafina that she was in a different world now, one she knew nothing about.  His menacing growling and snarling, as well as slapping paws reinforced this message.  The sight of a white lion waiting for her made Sarafina even more upset.  She’d heard of white lions, and knew them to be held in huge regard by their tawny brothers and sisters.

        “So you are Sarafina, Samson’s mother,” Simba mewed, trying and failing to look intimidating.

      “Yes,” Sarafina mewed, “Samson’s the name Theo gave my son cub?”

      “Yes,” Samson mewed, now as confused as his mother.

       “What do you want here?”  Simba asked.

      “I came here, to, to find my Son, to apologise to him,” Sarafina replied.

       “Why apologise to me after all these years?”  Samson asked, “What has changed in your life so much that you want to make amends with me for all you didn’t do when I was young?”

       “I’m getting older, and, and I wanted to sort things before I got too ill or old to make the journey,” Sarafina mewed.

      “You’re in cub too I see,” Simba observed.

       “I am,” Sarafina confirmed, “but I won’t have the cubs here.”  Samson looked disgusted and ashamed all at once.  His disgust at his mother’s treatment of him as a cub was plain to see, but he was also ashamed that he couldn’t bring himself to do the decent thing and give her a place of safety.

       “Simba, you make the decision,” Samson mewed, “I can’t, I can’t see beyond what this creature did to me!”  Simba watched as Samson walked away.

       “I can’t blame him,” Sarafina mewed.  Simba touched her paw.

       “Look into my eyes Sarafina,” he said gently.  The lioness did as Simba asked, while Simba held her paw in his.

        “Are you sorry for neglecting Samson?”  Simba asked.  Sarafina, her eyes unable to leave those of the large male white lion, took a deep breath and said:

       “I am sorry, sorrier than I can tell him.  I should have loved my cub, but instead I hated him because of how he looked.  Now he’s a handsome lion, if a little unconventional in the mane department.”

      “Could you tell him you’re sorry?”  Simba asked.  Sarafina replied that she could

        “I’ll call him back in here, and you can try and make peace.”  Simba called Samson back into the room, the huge lion padding noiselessly over the carpet on his huge padded paws.

       “Samson,” Sarafina said, “for that is your name I believe.  Please, listen to me.”   Samson looked at the lioness that’d born but not loved him.

       “What can you say to me that will make it all right?”  He asked, “Nothing!  Apologising won’t do any good because you don’t mean it, you can’t mean it!  How can a black hearted lioness like you know the meaning of sorrow?”  Simba saw mad hatred in Samson’s eyes, and placed his paw on that of the larger lion.

       “Take your paw off mine!”  Samson yelled.

      “No,” Simba mewed, “Samson, listen.  Sarafina’s made the journey to find you.  She’s got the courage to come to you and prostrate herself at your feet and apologise to you.  You would do well to listen to what she has to say.”  Samson tore his paw from beneath Simba’s and belted the white lion across his nose with it!

      “I will never listen to that bitch!”  He screamed.

        “Okay,” Simba mewed, “my counsil is ignored.”

      “What would you know?  You’re a bloody cub!”  Samson yelled.

        “You accepted me as your deputy, but when I give you advice, you refuse it, and then call me a stupid cub,” Simba mewed.

       “I don’t need your counsil,” Samson yelled, especially where Sarafina’s concerned!  She’s horrible!”

       “Samson, stop this!”  Petra yelled, barrelling into the room.

      ~”not you as well!”  Samson yelled, “What is this?  Let’s all gang up on Samson day?”

      “No Samson,” Petra said, “it’s not that.  Just listen to your mother, find out what she has to say, and then make your choice.  After her journey here, you owe her that at least.”  Samson spat at Simba, glared at Petra, and then turned to Sarafina.

      “Get it over with!”  He snarled.

       “Samson,” Sarafina said, looking into the eyes of the lion that she could never bring herself to love, “I am sorry for how I treated you as a cub.”  Samson raised a paw to stop her, but Simba pulled it down to the floor.

      “Go on Sarafina; tell him why I am not throwing you out of here.  Tell Samson why you could not love him as your cub.”

       “A lion brought you to me one day,” Sarafina said, “he told me to look after you.  I was looking after my own cubs at the time, and he killed them so I would devote all my attention to you.  This lion said his mate had died shortly after giving birth to you, and that he wanted me to bring you up as my own.  I hated you because your sire killed my cubs so that you could have a life.  I didn’t want you, I weaned you, for I knew the lion was watching, but when I could, I got rid of you.”

       “You blamed me for my sire’s actions?”  Samson asked, “How could you!”

      “I don’t now,” Sarafina replied, “I can’t; now I know what I do.  That lion, he’s here, in the wood.  He’s stopped killing the cubs of other lionesses, but he’s still impregnating lionesses.  His lioness, your mother, had died, but there have been other abandoned cubs.  This lion hated cubs, though he couldn’t be seen to let them die.  In a large community they wouldn’t die, but being a loaner, if the lioness that bore the cub died or didn’t want the cub, he’d have to make sure he delivered the cub to another lioness.  What she did with the cub was up to her, if she let it die then that was how it would be.  The lion had washed his paws of the problem then, and he could go ahead and have his fun.”

       “Tommy trip,” Petra snarled, “the bastard!”

      “Yes,” Sarafina replied, “Tommy trip.  He’s about my age, ten or eleven, and still causing havoc I see.  Now I come to your community Samson, Petra, Simba Kizungu, and ask that I be allowed to give birth to my cubs here, so, so that they are safe.  I fear Tommy, I know he’s not far away, and I know his record.”

      “My sire killed cubs?”  Simba mewed.

      “Yes our sire did,” Petra replied, her head hung in grief for Sarafina’s cubs.

       “Eohippus keep them safe,” Petra mewed softly padding away, very upset.

       “I wasn’t your cub after all,” Samson mewed.

      “No Samson you weren’t,” Sarafina replied.  Samson looked into Simba’s face.

        “What should I do,” he asked almost weeping.

       “I’d give her a home,” Simba mewed, “For we both know what Tommy can do.”  Samson turned to his surrogate mother.

        “You can have a home here,” he said, “but once your cubs are born, get out of here and take them with you!”  Theo padded in, and Samson saw the look which passed between him and Sarafina.

        “You two aren’t falling for each other are you?”  He asked, disgusted.

       “She’s a lovely lioness,”   Theo mewed.

        “I heard how you befriended and fell in love with a lioness that you helped birth her cubs,” Samson mewed, “it’s not happening again is it?”  Theo grinned.

        “But Sarafina’s a, a disgusting creature!”  Samson yelled.

      “Sarafina’s been bereft of her own cubs, then used to bring up another’s cub,” Theo mewed, “she’s done nothing wrong.  Not loving someone else’s cub when that someone has killed your own cubs is not a crime Sammy.  Think about a situation where someone killed Leo and planted a cub for you and fleur to look after, could you love that new cub?”  Samson shook his head.

      “I’d hate it,” he mewed.

      “And so did Sarafina,” Simba mewed.

       “You mean she doesn’t now?”  Samson asked.

       “No Sammy, “I, I don’t hate you, it’s taken a long time, but I don’t hate you.  That was why I came to apologise, because I don’t hate you any more.”  Samson looked into Sarafina’s eyes.

      “Is she genuine?”  He asked gruffly.

       “Sarafina’s genuine all right,” Simba mewed.  Samson looked at the fat in cub lioness.

       “I suppose Theo’s going to help you have your cubs,” he mewed.

      “If he would do so, I’d be overjoyed,” Sarafina mewed.

      “Whose cubs are they?”  Samson asked.

      “Those of a lion who is now dead,” someone said.

       “Salty!”  Theo yelled, “You didn’t, do you?”

       “Kill Tommy?”  Salty asked, “Yes I did, after he’d told me what he’d done to Sarafina that was.”

       “How can you love your unborn cubs when they’re Tommy’s?”  Samson asked Sarafina.

       “Because, what happened is not of their making.  As with you, now I am older and wiser, I can see what happened then was happening to both of us, not just me.  You were bereft of your mother and given to a surrogate mother who didn’t want you, and I was bereft of my cubs and was left with a cub that I didn’t want.  So we were both messed up.  I could have loved you, but misguidedly projected the hatred I felt for the killer of my cubs onto the cub he left me.  I shouldn’t have done that.  It hurt me, and most of all, hurt you Samson.  I am not going to make my unborn cubs suffer the way I made you suffer for something that is not their doing.  I am sorry for making you suffer Samson.”  Samson looked into Sarafina’s eyes.  There were no tears, the look in those eyes was worse than tears.  Despite the joy of the imminent birth of her cubs, Sarafina looked lost, desolate, as if part of her was missing.  Theo, seeing the look in her eyes, realised he must have looked that way to Petra during his weeks of self imposed confinement.  Samson felt some of her turmoil.

       “Can I hug you Samson, please,” Sarafina mewed.  Samson thought of refusing out right, but something inside him wanted the lioness to throw her paws round him.  He remembered the sight of eohippus showing Petra what happened to Simba in the net, and he knew she’d be able to show him what happened to Sarafina that day their paths crossed.  Sarafina wanted to hold out an olive branch to her grown son cub to end a war which neither of them had started.  Tommy was dead, and Samson was relieved.  Padding forward and lying down, Samson let the heavily pregnant lioness take him in her paws and hug him.

      “I can never bring back the years we lost,” Sarafina mewed, “but please Samson, let’s go on from here and make a new start.  I’m sorry I put you through all that Samson.”  Samson felt her paws shaking, and then his long mane was getting wet.  Sarafina was crying.  Samson cradled her head as she wept.

       “Concentrate on your cubs now,” Samson mewed, “all of them, both born and unborn.”  Sarafina heard his words, for her paws tightened around him, her embrace tightening.  She began to groom Samson from nose to tail, as if he were a cub, not a fully grown lion.  Samson knew this was part of her healing process, so let her get on with things.  He tried to make light of the grooming, as if it wasn’t affecting him, but deep down it was, he could feel the years slipping away, and he felt really safe for the first time in years.  It was as if the memory of being hit by hard paws was a bad dream, and that this was reality.  Samson concentrated on the sensation of Sarafina’s teeth, tongue and paws working over his body like he was an overgrown cub, and he loved every minute.  When she came to his paws and began to massage them, something she’d never done for him when he was young, Samson felt tears pricking the backs of his eyes.  This lioness not only knew she should have loved him then, but desperately wanted to love him now, Samson could feel it.  Samson admitted something to himself then, that he’d always longed for his mother to love him, and now this was happening, he was at peace.  Samson began to purr with pleasure, Sarafina’s attention relaxing and soothing him despite everything.  Theo and Simba watched, Salty having disappeared after imparting his news.  Samson knew Sarafina was doing her best to love him, he could feel it in the touch of her paws.  Sarafina knew she couldn’t replace the years she’d hated Samson as a cub, but she felt she might be able to show him she no longer hated him; indeed, she’d grown to love the large lion, even though they were apart for years.


Meanwhile, Petra padded through the wood, strolling casually down the tracks.  She enjoyed her walks, enjoying the crisp air tingling in her nostrils and the ground, though hard and cold, felt good to her paws.  Petra suddenly pricked her ears, listening to screaming coming from her right.  Lumbering down the track, Petra bulldozed into the midst of a fight!  Ellie was fighting with Snowy, Ellie trying to scratch out Snowy’s eyes.  Petra crashed into the midst of all this, separating the scrapping cats.  Petra bunched her paw and punched Ellie on the nose, the female lynx squealing with pain, giving Snowy the chance to run away.  Snowy fled from the scene, her nose scratched and bleeding.  Petra threw Ellie onto the floor in the same way she’d done to Simba, deadening the lynx’s paws and winding her, before getting out of the area quickly.  Petra crashed through the woods, snowy hearing her coming.  Slowing to a walk, Snowy waited for the white lioness.

        “What the hell happened?”  Petra asked.  Snowy touched her nose with her paw and stared at the blood on her pads.

       “Ellie ambushed me and began hitting me for stealing her cub,” snowy mewed.

      “She’s still bitter about you getting joint charge of Silver I think,” Petra replied.


Meanwhile, Allie told Raja to follow Ellie.  The tiger ambushed Ellie on the track, chasing her down it, growling and snarling.  Ellie took to her paws and ran!  Raja pounded after her, then, when she thought she was winning, he overtook her, spun round and ran at her!  Ellie, screaming, slammed into the tiger, which picked her up, shook her and threw her into a bush.  Ellie clambered from the bush, stumbling away from Raja.  The tiger watched her go, wishing he could have done more to her:

      “I hate you for what you did to your cub!”  Raja yelled, “You are a disgusting lynx!”  Ellie ran away, determined not to anger Raja any further.


Meanwhile, back in the house, Sarafina finished grooming Samson, and turned to see Theo lying beside her.  The lion had padded into the room and settled down beside her during her massage of Samson’s paws.  Samson, bleary eyed from the massage, watched sleepily as Theo and Sarafina touched paws, then noses.  Smiling to himself, Samson got up and left them to it.  Theo examined Sarafina closely, and then began rubbing her down, her scent telling him she was anxious about the births of her cubs.  Theo tried to use his paws to soothe her, and got some way towards this.


Meanwhile, Petra and snowy returned to the house, their paws damp from the wet ground.


Theo worked his good forepaw over Sarafina, reaching her belly.  As he touched her belly, he felt her cubs moving inside her, pressing their tiny paws against his in a direct reaction to his touch.  Feeling the cubs kicking, Sarafina smiled.

      “I want you to be with me when my cubs arrive,” Sarafina mewed.  Theo promised he would be there.  Sarafina told Theo about the birth of her first cubs, her pain and fear as her body got on with its work, while her mind fretted and worried.  Theo promised her everything would be all right this time that he’d try and make her cubbing as easy as possible.

      “I held my breath while I pushed against my cubs,” Sarafina admitted, “maybe that wasn’t a good idea.  Next time, I’ll try pressing down while breathing deeply, that would be better.”

      “I don’t mind what you do during cubbing,”  Theo said, “I’ll support you in anything you want to do, be it pacing, moaning and mewing during contractions, snarling, roaring, or thrashing about with all four paws.  You can cling to me, or push me away depending on what you want.  I don’t mind.”

       “All I want is someone to be there and encourage me to get on with things,” Sarafina mewed.

      “You will get that for sure,” Petra said, padding into the lie up, “during the last cubbing Theo attended, it wasn’t clear who was having the cubs, him or Elsa.  He got into it totally, clenching his teeth and curling his toes just like Elsa was.  Encouraging her to make as much noise and fuss as she felt like doing.”

       “So you won’t mind if I scream the roof off?”  Sarafina asked.  Theo touched her paw.

       “Hopefully, what with paw massage and general encouragement, you wont’ be screaming the roof off.  If you are screaming in pain, then I’ve failed.  Screaming and groaning with effort is fine, but if you are in so much pain that we’re unable to control it, I’ve failed in my duty of care.  I want you to remember the births of your cubs for other things than how difficult the birth was.  I would like you to enjoy the experience if you can.”

       “I must admit I was so scared giving birth on my own that I couldn’t really focus on my cubs, I just had to push hard and hope noone came near,” Sarafina said.  Theo embraced her tightly.

      “We’ll get through it together,” Theo mewed.  Sarafina smiled, burying her paws in Theo’s mane.  Theo purred contentedly, snuggling up to Sarafina.  Turning his head, Theo examined her from nose to tail, his eyes resting on her face, his paws working over her body until he held one of her forepaws in one of his.  Looking down at her pads and toes, he traced them with one forepaw, while holding the paw with the other.  Theo heard Sarafina gasp as she felt the sensation which his toes produced working over her pads.  Breathing deeply, she concentrated on her paw, focusing her mind through her pads and toes.  Theo worked on that paw, then transferred his attentions to her other forepaw, then her hind.  Stroking the pads of Sarafina’s right hind paw, Theo felt her toes curl, her pads bunching as they did so.  Theo knew that deep breathing and paw massage often brought on labour, and wondered if it would happen today.

      “Are you ready to give birth to your cubs?”  Theo asked.  Sarafina, concentrating hard on her right hind paw, mewed that she was.  Theo couldn’t induce labour, but he tried to encourage the cubs to arrive soon, stroking and massaging their mother’s belly and paws, relaxing and soothing her in an attempt to relax her cubs.  Sarafina stretched out full length on the rug, feeling her cubs moving, then a sudden tightening in her belly.  She’d been heavy with milk these last few days and knew her time was near.  Breathing deeply, she felt the first contraction, light and bearable.  Breathing deeply, she opened her mouth and groaned deeply as another contraction built in her.  Theo knew what was happening, and kept stroking her hind paws, knowing Sarafina would be more comfortable if labour was slow at this stage.  He felt her toes curling and wiggling as she tried to enjoy the massage and cope with the contractions.  Petra, who still stood in the lie up, watched the goings on.  She’d never given birth to a cub, but whished often she’d given birth to Simba.  She’d dreamt about giving birth to a tiny white lion cub, but that’s as far as she’d ever got to her wish.  Now she watched Sarafina and Theo, the lion and lioness stroking each other in an attempt to take Sarafina’s mind off her labour.  When a contraction came, Sarafina would hug Theo tightly, her sweat soaked paws holding desperately onto him.  Sarafina would then open her mouth and moan softly, or growl, depending on the type of pain she was in.  If she felt she needed to push, she’d close her eyes and press down gently, breathing deeply all the time, while Theo patted her with his paws.  Petra lay down, hoping she’d not be noticed.  From where she was she could see Sarafina’s hind quarters, the pads and toes of the lioness’s hind paws visible to her.  Petra watched for any sign of a cub, but all she saw was thrashing paws, curled toes, bunched pads and a switching tail.  Sarafina hadn’t wriggled to reposition a cub yet, so Petra guessed one wasn’t due yet.  Petra remembered Elsa wriggling just before the birth of each of her cubs.  This was a whole body affair, involving curling into a ball, then stretching out full length, the lioness pushing with all four paws so her body bounced on the rug, repositioning the cub, usually followed by a fierce urge to push at a cub.  Petra focused on Sarafina’s hind paws, the lioness’s pads drenched with sweat.  The labour was coming on well, contractions coming every few seconds, Sarafina and Theo riding them together, Sarafina groaning with pain and effort while scrabbling at Theo with her forepaws, while her hind pedalled the air.

       “First cub’s coming!”  Sarafina whimpered.  Petra watched anxiously.  Sarafina wriggled, and then scrabbled with her hind paws for something to brace them against.  Finding nothing, she screeched with anger and pain, bearing down against her cub.  Petra crawled towards the lioness’s scrabbling toes and caught them in hers.  Feeling something getting hold of her toes, and not caring who or what had hold of them, Sarafina braced her toes and pressed down hard against her cub.  Petra saw something emerging, huge white paws, then a massive white nose and head.  Petra gasped with surprise.  Then Sarafina was straining hard, for the cub was huge!  Pressing down with everything she had, Sarafina brought the cub’s shoulders, body and hind legs into the world, wriggling and screeching throughout.  Theo hadn’t looked round during all this, and Petra was sure he’d forgotten she was there.  With one final desperate squealing, grunting effort, Sarafina freed her cub’s hind paws, and what huge paws they were!  Sarafina lay exhausted on the rug, panting and crying while Theo held her tenderly.

     “That was hard work!”  Sarafina mewed, “one big cub I think, and there are no more cubs, just that one.”  Theo glanced back to where Petra was cleaning up a white cub.

      “Um, ‘er, Sarafina,” Theo said, “You’ve got a white cub.”  Sarafina nodded.

       “I think you know why that snow Leopard killed Tommy now,” she mewed.  Petra just kept cleaning the cub, washing and grooming her, the cub mewing while enjoying every minute.  Theo wondered why Sarafina wasn’t more upset about giving birth to a white cub.  Maybe she’d known all along that she might give birth to one, and seeing Petra and Simba so healthy and full of life gave her the confidence to love her cub no matter what.  Petra found Sarafina’s cub to be a smaller version of herself, and knew that she would protect this cub from the persecution she’d gone through when she was young; noone would get the chance to screw this cub’s life up.  Sarafina, now recovered sufficiently from giving birth, turned and examined her cub.  Taking it in her paws, she explored it with her whiskers and tongue, the cub loving every minute.  Petra slipped away, Theo hobbling after her.

       “I forgot you were there!”  Theo snapped, half angry with Petra.  Petra smiled:

       “I thought I’d stick around,” she mewed, “Sarafina needed you to stay with her; I thought I could observe and help if needed.”  Theo didn’t know whether to be grateful to his cub or angry with her.

       “Hey Petra, Petra!”  Sarafina called from the den, “come here will you?”  Petra padded towards Sarafina, Theo muttering something about her being really in the shit now.  Dreading the outcome of their meeting, Theo followed.


When Petra entered the den, Sarafina hugged her tightly.

      “Thank you for helping me,” she mewed, “I know those were your toes I squashed in mine while I pushed my cub into the world.  Show me your paws, are they all right?”  Petra rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air, wiggling and curling her toes.  Sarafina mischievously tickled Petra’s pads, the white lioness laughing helplessly.

      “How much of my cub’s birth did you see?”  Sarafina asked.

     “Everything,” Petra mewed.  Sarafina was delighted.

      “It went well,” Petra mewed, “you did fantastically well.”  Sarafina stroked life back into Petra’s paws, then lay down and fed her cub.  This done, the tawny lioness got to her paws, leaving the cub in Petra’s care.

      “I’m going for food,” Sarafina said, “would you look after my cub for a bit Petra?”  Petra was overjoyed and hesitant all at once.

       “Are you sure?”  She asked.

      “Yes,” Sarafina mewed.  Petra rolled onto her side, gathering the large cub to her.  The cub, feeling warmth and not caring where it came from, cuddled close to Petra, Petra purring as she felt the same feelings she’d experienced when hugging Simba for the first time.  Sarafina padded away to find food.  Once she’d eaten her fill, she returned to the lie up to find Petra and her cub asleep.  The sight of the large white lioness curled round her cub brought tears to Sarafina’s eyes.  Gulping hard, she tried not to cry.  Petra woke, saw Sarafina was upset and pushed the newborn cub away.

     “Here’s your cub,” she said.

      “No, I’m not angry,” Sarafina mewed, “it’s, well, the sight of you lying there curled round my cub brought tears to my eyes.  You love that cub, I can see it.”  Petra looked down at the large white cub.

      “She looks just like I must have done when I was a cub,” Petra mewed.  Sarafina lay down beside Petra and hugged her.

      “I’m glad you love my cub like I do,” Sarafina mewed.  The cub wriggled until she was snuggled down between the two lionesses.

       “I’m warm and safe,” she mewed.  The cub drank her milk while Sarafina was still cuddled up to Petra.  Petra listened to the sound of the cub suckling, loving the sound.  The cub finished her drink, then turned to Petra and worked her large paws into the white lioness’s fur.  Petra examined the cub’s large left forepaw, taking it in her huge paws and tickling her pads.  The cub laughed helplessly, wriggling and laughing so hard she was nearly sick.  Petra calmed the cub by stroking her back and ears, while the cub smiled and worked her paws into Petra’s.

      “What shall we call her?”  Sarafina asked.  Petra thought for a while:

      “How about Rowena, it’s an old Irish name meaning white mane or white hair.”  Sarafina smiled:

      “She’s got a lot of that,” the lioness mewed.  Theo padded in, saw the two lionesses curled together with the white cub ensconced between them, and smiled.

       “You two look very happy,” he observed.  Sarafina looked up at him.

      “Come,” she said, Lie down here and hug Rowena.”

      “Rowena?”  Theo asked.

      “That’s the name we’ve decided on for the new cub,” Petra mewed.  It’s Irish and means white hair or white mane.”  Theo was overjoyed at this.  The cub snuggled into Petra’s hug, burying her face in her neck fur.

        “Sleep well Rowena,” Petra whispered, the cub snuggling close to her.


Leo and silver padded in soon after, both stopping dead and gazing down at Rowena.  They touched her back with their paws, loving her.  Rowena woke at the two cubs touch and turned to them, stretching her forepaws towards them.  Silver let Rowena touch her paws, and then it was Leo’s turn.  He gathered Rowena to him, rolling onto his back to do so.  Rowena let the hairy cub take her in his paws, feeling safe with him, and actually snuggling close.  Sarafina watched all.

      “Your paws are lovely and warm,” Rowena said to Leo, Leo almost crying as he felt the white lion cub snuggling close.  Leo took her in his paws, Rowena burying herself in his long topcoat.

      “Hold me tight, really tight,” Rowena pleaded.  Leo did so, increasing the pressure of his hug, the cub pleading with him to hug her harder.  Leo held Rowena tightly, the cub loving his attention.

      “Is this how you were when you were a cub Petra?”  Leo asked.  Petra nodded.

      “Rowena is just like I was,” she mewed.

     “Rowena, what a lovely name,” Silver purred.  Leo sniffed hard, trying not to cry.  He’d fallen in love with this white cub.  He kissed her nose, then the pads of her left forepaw, Rowena smiling and returning the kiss to Leo’s left forepaw.

      “Stroke her paws,” Sarafina suggested.  Leo stroked Rowena’s left forepaw, massaging her pads and toes, the cub mewing with pleasure.

      “I like that,” Rowena said softly, rubbing back against his pressure.  Leo, his vision blurred by tears, held Rowena as tightly as he dared.

       “I think Leo likes you Rowena,” Silver mewed.  Rowena tried to throw her paws round Leo’s neck, the large cross bred cub stroking her ears and paws.


Samson padded into the lie up, saw Rowena, and then stared at Sarafina.

      “You’ve had your cub?”  He asked.  Sarafina smiled:

      “Yes, she’s beautiful isn’t she,” the lioness replied.

       “She is,” Samson said faintly, realising the significance of Sarafina’s words when she spoke of not blaming the cubs for the circumstances of their birth.

      “Yes Samson,” Sarafina said, “after Tommy had his way with me, I thought a lot, about you, about the cub that was to be born to me, and decided to try and make peace.”

       “I’m sorry for you,” Samson mewed, “Tommy’s caused problems for us here, now he’s gone.”

       “It was because of what he did that I realised what I’d done to you though Samson,” Sarafina replied.  Samson looked down at Rowena.  She was beautiful, and he felt the same protective impulse he’d felt towards Petra when she was a cub.

       “What’s her name?”  Samson asked, waving a paw at the white cub.  Sarafina told him, and Samson looked closely at the newborn cub.  She was a dead likeness for Petra, white hair from nose to tail, with a black nose and black paw pads.  Samson guessed her eyes, when they eventually opened, would be blue.  Samson kissed Rowena on her nose, the cub laughing merrily.

       “We will look after you little one,” Samson mewed.  Rowena wriggled free of Leo’s embrace and crawled to Samson, the lion looking down at her until he felt her paw touch his.  When their paws touched, Samson lay down and gathered Rowena in his paws.  Rowena purred and mewed with pleasure, Samson sniffing slightly as tears threatened to overcome him.

       “I love you,” Samson whispered to Rowena, the cub snuggling hard into his fur.  Finding his long mane with her paws, the cub buried them deep in the hair.

       “Would you hug me?”  Rowena asked.  Samson gathered her close, loving every minute of their contact.

       “You are so beautiful Rowena,” Samson mewed.


Meanwhile, Whitie and Blackie lay together, Whitie heavily pregnant with their cubs, discussing the birth of the cubs.

       “I want to feel a cub emerging,” Whitie mewed, “I will try and get by without pain relief, making my own way through things.  I want to try and feel a cub emerging with my paws, to experience that.”

       “Pushing down while curled in a ball isn’t easy,” Snowy mewed.

       “But it’s not impossible,” Whitie replied, “I will push as best I can while feeling my cub emerging.  I want to feel a cub being born, and why not let it be my own cub.”  Blackie was fine with this, letting Whitie do her own thing.  Whitie experimented, curling up to see if she could touch the root of her tail with her forepaws.  She managed it, but it was a tight squeeze.  How it would be while she was in labour she didn’t know.  Maybe the effort she’d need to make to touch her cub would distract her from the pain itself.  Blackie watched as Whitie curled herself into a ball, trying to scratch the root of her own tail with the toes of one forepaw.  She managed it more than once.  She even managed to touch the pads and toes of her right hind paw with her forepaws, stroking and tickling them, which felt good.  Blackie couldn’t wait for the births of his and Whitie’s cubs.   Whitie was also looking forward to it too, wanting to meet her cub, but also wanting to for fill her desire to feel a cub being born.

     “What’s labour like?”  Whitie asked.  Snowy thought for a while.

      “It’s like the worst belly ache you’ve ever had,” she mewed, “you feel like you need to relieve yourself, and pushing down is the only thing that will relieve the pressure.  It’s painful, but exciting too.  When I had Bianca, it was wonderful but painful.  All I can advise is that you do what you want to do, squeal, groan, pant, scream, beat the carpet with your paws, clench your teeth and curl your toes, pant, wriggle and kick.  Everything helps.”  Whitie smiled, closed her eyes, breathed deeply and tried to imagine birthing her cubs, Nothing happened.  Flexing her toes, Whitie practised curling and relaxing her paws.  Blackie and snowy watched her.

      “I know you’re looking forward to the birth of your cubs,” snowy mewed, “but the best things come to those who wait.”  Whitie smiled, settling down.

       “Want to meet a newborn cub?”  Samson asked, [padding into the room with Sarafina and Rowena.  Whitie stirred to life.

      “A newborn cub?”  Whitie asked, “Who’s?”

      “Sarafina’s,” Samson replied, “She’s a new lioness here.  Her cub’s name is Rowena.”

      “Theo was distracted by her at the meeting and wandered off with her,” Blackie said.  Whitie smiled.

      “I remember,” she mewed.  Rowena crawled up to Whitie and touched paws with her.  Whitie reached forward and took the large cub in her paws.

      “How old are you little’n?”  She whispered.  Rowena smiled:

      “How should I know?”  She replied, “I’ve not been here long though.  I remember my birth, being squeezed and pushed into the world, so I can’t be that old yet.”  Whitie licked Rowena’s ear.

       “I’m having cubs soon,” she mewed.

     “Are you?”  Rowena asked, “How wonderful.”  Whitie smiled.

      “I can’t wait,” Whitie mewed.  Rowena traced Whitie from nose to tail, her paws tickling Whitie’s.  Whitie laughed helplessly, arching her back to catch the cub, who, realising she could make Whitie laugh, tickled her paws mercilessly.

      “Stop!”  Whitie gasped, “You’re tickling me!”  Rowena stopped tickling Whitie’s forepaws, only to start on her hind!  Whitie screamed with laughter, wriggling and squirming, Rowena holding on doggedly to one of her hind paws with both of her fore while using her whiskers to tickle Whitie’s pads and toes.

      “You little rascal, stop it!”  Whitie said, trying to be serious.  Rowena stopped tickling Whitie’s paw.

      “Right,” Whitie panted, “now, now my paws have been thoroughly tickled, can, can I take a good look at you?”

     “What’s your name?”  Rowena asked. 

      “My name’s Whitie,” Whitie replied, “now,” Whitie mewed, “can I touch your paws and whiskers?”  Rowena, sensing this was code for massage, smiled at her.

      “Please,” she mewed, “stroke my paws, whiskers and belly and even play with my tail!”  Whitie traced all over Rowena’s body, from her ears to her toes, Rowena loving every minute.

      “This is lovely!”  She mewed.  Whitie used her paws and whiskers to massage Rowena, much to the large cub’s delight.  Rowena made Whitie chase her for access to her paws, Whitie soon rolling on the rug with the large cub, both laughing and pawing at each other in play.  Whitie tickled the pads and toes of each of Rowena’s fore and hind paws in turn, the white cub laughing and enjoying every minute.

      “I’ve got to get used to playing with cubs,” Whitie mewed, pinning Rowena down and tickling her, “I’m soon to have cubs of my own.”  Rowena lay still, exhausted and happy.  Whitie, feeling the game was over, began to groom Rowena, feeling how hot the cub’s paws were.  Rowena smiled at Whitie while the snow leopard gave her a thorough grooming.  Sarafina watched this, enjoying the fact that Rowena had played with Whitie.


Whitie finished grooming Rowena, Sarafina gently taking hold of Rowena’s scruff and lifting her off her paws.  Carrying her back to their den, she settled down with her newborn cub, who was exhausted.


Back in Whitie and Blackie’s lie up, Whitie lay on the rug, almost as worn out as Rowena was.  Whitie felt all four of her paws tingling where Rowena had tickled her pads and toes.  Whitie bent her tail round and took it in her forepaws, massaging and playing with the tip.  She had played with her tail ever since she was a cub, and now it was a habit when thinking.  Blackie watched Whitie playing with her tail.

      “Are you sure you don’t want pain relief during cubbing?”  He asked.  Whitie smiled:

      “No Blackie, not unless it gets dangerous, then I will.  If it’s a normal cubbing, then I will go through it without outside pain relief.  I want to feel my cubs coming, for I can’t see them.”  Blackie smiled:

      “I’m looking forward to meeting our new cubs,” he purred.

      “So am I,” Whitie mewed.




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Martin Wilsher © 2007




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