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Define 'Kids'

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“Number 6…number 5…number 4! This is it.”

Alma pulled the car to a stop in front of a small, cute house encircled by tidy hedges with a little garden in the front. In the window, a yellow cat was watching with unblinking green eyes as the family emerged from the car, one of them holding a black kitten and another retrieving a chocolate cake from the trunk.

“Look Sissy, they have a kitty too!” Kamila waved at it, then gently grasped Sissel’s paw to wave it at the cat as well. The look on the kitten’s face was far from amused at this forced gesture; the yellow cat didn’t react either.

“It’s a pretty small house for a family,” Jowd remarked as they were heading up the short walk to the front door.

“Perhaps you misheard them,” Alma replied, “and they just have one. He only got out of prison a few weeks ago, they could be expecting.”

“True.”

It was Sissel that answered the doorbell instead of her husband—not a surprise, she was the one who invited them for dinner in the first place. What could be seen of the interior behind her was just as cute as the exterior, though Alma and Jowd noted no signs of a child’s playthings, just a cat tower and a fabric tunnel on the floor next to the television. “Welcome,” she greeted with a friendly smile on her face, “Come in! Yomi’s just feeding the cats right now.”

“Cats?” Kamila grew increasingly excited, hugging the Sissel in her arms a little tighter. “You have more than one?”

As if on cue, there was the sound of kibble clinking in glass bowls, followed by the rapid skittering of claws on hardwood floor. From all around the house came four cats—no, five…no, six…seven? Eight? All blurs of fur and upright tails and perked ears, accompanied by some excited and insistent meows. The family could see, upon entering the home proper, that Yomiel had set a row of bowls upon the floor of the open-plan kitchen where a number of cats of all different sizes and coat colors were now happily munching away. He stood watching them with an amused smile on his face, only bending down once to move a particularly greedy tabby from a fought-over bowl to an otherwise ignored one. All in total there were ten, with most looking to be younger than four months.

“That’s a lot of cats,” commented Alma.

“We foster,” Sissel explained. “But two of them are ours. They wanted to stay with us and we couldn’t say no.”

“Yomiel told us you had children?”

“These ARE our kids,” Yomiel called from the kitchen, half-offended.

“Why have humans when you can have cats?” Sissel added with a grin, while giving the kitten in Kamila’s arms some well-received scratches.

Alma looked at Jowd, who was silent for a beat before bursting into a hearty laugh.

“I don’t really know what else I expected!”