The noise continued, however, so at 4 a.m. she climbed out of bed and peered out her bedroom window, which overlooks a nearby street. There, in the middle of the road, was an object, lumpy and dark and making some serious noise.
"I saw something odd in the road, but I couldn't really make out what it was," said Marilyn. "But then I started hearing the meowing again and I said to my husband, 'there are cats out there.'"
Six-week old kittens to be exact, five of them, stuffed into a tied-up black, plastic trash bag and discarded in the middle of the street. Marilyn and her husband Craig quickly retrieved the bag and opened it to find the siblings urine-soaked, trembling and weak.
"I was flabbergasted and appalled," said Craig. "They were just shivering from the cold and clearly frightened. It's a lucky thing my wife likes to sleep with the window open or we might not have heard them."
The Strunks brought the kittens into the house, bathed them and wrapped them in heated blankets. A few hours later they drove them to the emergency animal clinic in Antioch, where, following a thorough exam, they were pronounced healthy.
"The vet said they were in good shape, especially considering what they had been through," said Craig. "They were starving, though, fighting each other for the food, but that's a good sign."
How long the kittens had been sitting in the street is impossible to say, but the Strunk's daughter said that when she had come home from work around 11 p.m. that evening, she had seen the garbage bag in the road.
"It's a miracle that no one ran them over and that they survived," said Marilyn. "It's such a cruel thing to do. In this day and age there are so many options, why would someone just throw them in the street?"
The Strunks have been feeding the quintuplets chicken-flavored baby food and kitten formula every four hours as they help them to regain their strength. Less than 24 hours since their rescue, the resiliency of feline youth paid off.
Given the run of the Strunks' master bedroom, the two white, two gray and one tri-colored tabby were jumping off tables and chairs, chasing their own tails - and each others' - and stalking an unsuspecting sibling from behind the furniture.
The kittens are still too young to have their sex determined, but the veterinarian told the Strunks they would likely be able to tell at their next check-up. Until then, the Strunks will continue to nurse the feline family for another week or so until they can wean them off the four-hour feeding schedule.
"We'll hold onto them for a bit until they're 100 percent," said Craig. "Then they'll be ready for adoption and a good home."
The Strunks are the current parents to three cats and two dogs, so adding to their animal brood is not an option. It's their hope that volunteers will take two or more of the kittens so that the family can stay at least partially intact.
"It would be nice if some of them could stay together," said Marilyn. "But we'll see what happens. Either way we're just looking for them to find a good home. They deserve that."
For information on adopting the kittens, call the Strunks at 679-1120.