October 2010

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Biscuit and Ginger hiding under the jade plant

Last week a family of feral cats was trapped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. Mom was returned to the wild while the kits undergo socialization to prepare them for adoption. After a certain time in the wild, cats will never be suitable pets. Socialized young enough and they can make wonderful companions. Biscuit (boy) and Ginger (girl), both around 8-10 weeks old, having been living in Tom’s office this week while he’s out of town. They are adorable and still pretty shy but already less skittish and hissy. A big part of socializing them is just letting them get used to you. They already have learned to love “da bird” toy, and allow me to hold them every once in a while. I love this job.

We are working with the Ally Cat Project – a small cat rescue in Seattle which works primarly to place feral cats in barn homes and shy but socializable kittens as companions. You can read more about Alley Cat on their Petfinder Page.

Because our cats have been fractious we have been keeping them isolated. To make this easier we built a door for the top of the stairs to our second floor. The evening we put it up Luna jumped it.

Luna and Nelson - New Door

The door is about 5′ high from above and about 5’8″ from below (it is at a step) and there is little to grab onto. She probably stood on the bench to the left so it was not such a tall jump but the door is only 1/4″ thick so there is precious little for her to grab onto or stand on top of. Marie heard a kerfufel, a thump, and momentarily Luna came strolling into the room.

Before this door we were using the introduction barrier to block the upstairs:

Nelson and Jojo - Introduction Screen

I built this when we picked up Luna as a foster and wanted to introduce her to Nelson. It just slides into place and rests against the door frame. Originally it was about 5′ high and luna quickly learned to climb over that. I extended it to 6′ with some wood that didn’t quite fit edge to edge and Luna learned to get around that. The final solution was to add some plexi-glass to over 6′, full width. The clear glass lets us see through.

Problem is that it is awkward to move. Slipping through it while keeping a cat from slipping out is a skill. Doing this with even a cup of tea in hand it difficult. So it creates a barrier for both the cats and ourselves. Having it up for the one or two weeks of a successful introduction is tolerable. Having to keep it up for months of this slow re-introduction has been an on-going frustration. Using it at the stop of a flight of stairs (even with a small landing) presented an on-going risk of falling down the stairs so we are both glad to have

Meanwhile, the introduction barrier is set up at the door to Jojo’s room. Nelson seems to be upset when there are places he can not go and cats he can not, um, dominate? We are hoping that letting them watch each other will help them relax with each other.

We have also built a door on the basement stairs

Basement Cat Door

Basement Cat Door

For now we are keeping foster cats in the basement, isolated from our residents. Problem is, once the fosters have explored the basement they are ready to see the rest of the house. Their presence at the door increased resident cat stress and makes it very difficult for us to get downstairs with out the fosters slipping upstairs. We still need to fill some holes around this door, but hope that it will keep the fosters away from the actual basement door and make it easier to have them in our house.

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I take photos of some of the cats at PAWS Cat City, usually with my iPhone 4. Yesterday, through some accidental magic, I got a great photo of the cat called “Erica Berger”.

PAWS adoptable cat "Erica Berger"

PAWS adoptable cat Erica Berger