The aforementioned cat is no longer fat. Yes, well, uh, I wasn't too far off on the 23 kitten guess. This poor mama cat had ten kittens!
The poor mama: Deliver ten kittens. Fight off predatory animal. Spend first night in a cloud of skunk spray.
So as of now, we have seven living kittens.
Joe sprayed the mama and brood with his special recipe skunk spray. After giving it time to do it's thing, he gently tipped the kittens out of the cat house and checked them over. Removed the deceased ones. He was not able to determine whether the mama cat was skunk bitten.
So for now the kittens and the mama are off limits to the kids. Tomorrow Joe can get a better look at the mama. It would be fairly traumatic if he had to put them all down due to skunk rabies worries.
But for mama cat's sake, I am somewhat relieved that three have died. My goodness! Ten babies!
Sorry if that's a cold hearted statement. My oldest daughter just labeled it so. I guess I'm glad she's tender hearted rather than cruel.