Kittens

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We are often asked:  “How can you give so much care to foster cats and then give them away?”

At first we could not.  We adopted the first two of our foster cats.  But then we learned two things:

  • We can’t keep adopting cats.  
  • Sending cats to good homes makes us happy.

If we adopted too many cats it would limit our ability to help others.  Two (mostly) cat friendly residents is a good number.  This gives us time and space to help other cats.

We do put a lot of care into the foster cats, come to love them, and want them to be happy.  When we find a good home for them we think:

This cat will now have a great home.  They will have people to love it and protect it.  We could not have done that for this cat.  We have now helped one more cat through the re-homing process.

We just sent Bubbles and Shadow to a good home.  Bubble’s came to us first, a Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) foster chosen to be companion to Mustache, another young cat we were fostering.  (Mustache later went to the Feral Cat Sanctuary.) Shadow came later, one of 5 at-risk cats, removed from a very unpleasant hoarding situation, who came to us for evaluation. Shadow and Bubbles soon bonded.

Bubbles, not the most affectionate cat, and prone to picking on other cats in our house, showed great patience and tenderness toward Shadow.  Shadow went from a shut down, confused little kitten, to a confident great companion to us and to Bubbles.

Shadow sleeping in my arms.

Shadow sleeping in my arms.

 

Bubbles

Bubbles

 

Shadow cuddling with our resident Annabelle

Shadow cuddling with our resident Annabelle

Bubbles grooming Shadow

Bubbles even cleans the bottom of Shadow’s paws!

 

 

 

They were adopted to a nice man who really appreciated cats.  Sending cats away with adopters is bitter-sweet.  Bitter for them because we know it will upset them to be uprooted and sent away from a home to which they have grown accustomed, and bitter for us to say good-by.  Sweet when we hear news of them in their new home.  The next day we go this photo and note:

Bubbles and Shadow taking claim of the bed. Very playful and active :)

Bubbles and Shadow taking claim of the bed. Very playful and active 🙂

Since we started working with cats we have fostered quite a few kittens

Maxwell was the first. Marie went to the shelter and saw this frightened, hissy kitten. With in a couple of hours at home she had him purring in her lap.

To keep Max company we then got Blanka and Sabine, two out of several kittens languishing in the shelter. Within two weeks they were adopted together.

Max was with us for about a month more, became good buddies with our adult cats, before being adopted as a companion for an energetic girl cat.

In the fall we started fostering semi-feral kittens for Alley Cat Project, starting Biscuit and Ginger:

Brother and Sister. Biscuit was adopted fairly quickly as companion for another cat. We then got another little tabby. He was so very scared when he came to us. Within a month he was totally relaxed, bonded with Ginger, and one of the friendliest cats we ever met.

The two were adopted together.

About a day latter Deb brought us three semi-feral kittens. These were from a colony that produced very social cats.

This is soon after they arrived and they are looking wary. Greyling, a girl, was adopted as a solo kitten (something I’ll never do again) and the boys went together where they were reported to like laps.

Once they left we got Odel and Winnie. These were slightly older kittens and took a long time to socialize.

They were also very special cats with exceptional personalities. Odel got adopted to a couple in Everette where he has a great life and companion cat.

We briefly fostered this solo bottle baby until he could be moved to another foster with a solo cat. He was one of the cutest kits I’ve ever seen.

Winnie stayed with us a couple more months. I was just resigning myself to his not being adopted when he went to a home in West Seattle where he goes on walks on the beach.

In June 2011 ACP trapped a feral mom with kittens who we housed in our garage:

Pumpkin had an abcess and had to get antibiotics.

Deb had another mother with 4 kittens. We took that family when she went on vacation.

And they all got integrated.

A couple other kittens came through about this time.

Saami, a beautiful lynx point, got socialize and integrated into the clan.

It took us till September to a) raise them to an adoptable age then b) find homes for all of them.

While we were fostering them we had several kittens come through our garage facility.

Georgina was one of 3 grey kittens as playful and friendly as the summer days were long. They got adopted quickly.

The Burr brothers (there were three) were a wild bunch. They went to the Seattle Animal Shelter for socialization and adoption.

Huck and his two siblings went to PAWS. Sadly, they were euthanized a week later for Panleukopenia. (No other cat we housed concurrently got sick so we don’t think it came from us. None the less, we cleaned thoroughly.)

Sara was sweet but shy. Hard to get much sense of her personality in the garage. However, it did not take her long to get adopted and word back was that she became a playful, happy kitten.

In November, soon after finding a new home for our boy Nelson, we picked up two families from the Seattle Animal Shelter who were languishing there because the mothers were reported to be feral. Together they had 4 kittens. The kittens were adopted through the shelter but we continued to foster the mothers through adoption as there were shy and would show best in a foster home. Both were only about a year old.

That closed out the 2011 kittens. In March Alley Cat Project started to see pregnant females and on March 14th one gave birth to 4 kittens before we could get her to the clinic. A week ago we took them. The mother is feral with us but very attentive to her little kittens:

So it begins again…

Summer Kittens

Over the summer we had two litters of kittens from feral mother cats.  We trapped Lilly, realized she was lactating, and the next day went back and found her kittens.  She lived and her kittens lived in our garage for several weeks.  When I visited the kittens would peep and come out to visit me while Lilly stayed hidden in her carrier.

The two brothers

Then Deb brought Emma and her 4 kittens who we also housed in the garage. Here are Ursa and Booboo.

After a while I moved Lilly and her kittens to my office so they could have more indoor time and socialization.  I also brought Emma’s kittens up for visits and when they were fully weaned moved them into my office.  We also trapped a beautiful little snowshoe kitten who I socialized and integrated.

Saami integrated:

 In the end we had a mess of kittens upstairs:

 

Here’s a video of them all playing together:

On Friday our group got word of a litter of kittens seperated from their mother.  She housed them on a boat in drydock.  The boat was then launched and moved.  The boat owners discovered the litter and did their best to care for them but were not told the kittens had to be fed every couple hours.  They were very young.

Our group is amazing.  By that evening the mother was caught and the kittens were re-united with her.  They were housed in our garage overnight.  But things did not look so good.  The kittens were cold and undernourished and the momma did not seem interested in caring for them.  In the morning we found one dead, two alone, and the momma sitting away from them.  She would not help them when we brought them to her.  Our attempt to introduce them to another mother we were housing also did not work and we didn’t have any kitten nursing supplies on hand.

Once the stores opened I ran out and got some KMR.  We bought them inside and fed them.  The black and white kitten had gotten too cold and dehydrated to take any more food.  He was gaunt around the head, cold, weak, and breathing through his mouth.

We called one of our group who came and got them.  She said that she has never seen a kitten showing the signs like the black and white baby who survived.

Death is all around us.  When it comes close I get stirred up about it.  It is important to try to save the kittens and cats that come under my care but I also try to hold a larger picture so as to not get too caught up into this particular instance of suffering but to remember there are many animals and people facing sickness, death, and suffering in different forms and they all need my care or at least my prayers.

Feisty girl CJ and her black and white brother

Odel and Winnie take refuge in the bookcase

Odel and Winnie came to our house on February 18. Captured as ferals and already over 12 weeks old, they would prove to be a challenge to socialize. But after nearly two months indoors, they have been well fed, altered, and endured lots of human contact. When they first showed up, they just wanted to hide and hiss every time either of us came into their room. They often would take refuge behind my books in the bookcase. I would take the books out one at a time to see them pressed up against the wall, giving me the serious stink eye.

They continued to hiss and spit at us almost every time we came near them. We kept a large cage on the day bed with open doors where they could always run to feel safer. Also, that’s where we fed them so they learned to run into the cage for meals. Inside the cage was a small cubby where they could hide for extra security. After a while we removed the cubby, forcing them to be out in the open more. They became more comfortable outside the cage and would often snuggle on the pedastle near the window.

Odel and Winnie snuggle

In March we had three windows in their room replaced. A very traumatic week for them with all the banging and movement. Once the room was back in order, we removed the cage.

Winnie - the reluctant burrito

After the clinic, we separated them so they can become more bonded with people rather than continue to cling to each other. Winnie has taken up residence in Tom’s office while Odel keeps me company in my office during the day. I’m sure they miss each other, and we look forward to letting them play together in the future. We spend time each day holding the kits in a burrito to help them get used to us.

They love to run and romp. They both have climbing posts and toys. They both quickly developed great litter box habits, but Winnie has a way of kicking an amazing amount of litter out each time he uses it. Although we’ve heard many cats don’t like these, a covered litter box may be the ultimate solution for him. Their personalities are distinct, with Winnie being much more relaxed in general while maintaining his physical independence, while Odel is more intense, fiercely standing his ground when threatened, but who mainly is scared and just wants to be loved. Both prefer the company of humans to being alone. Even as I write this Odel is tearing around the room with his mouse toy, jumping over my legs and purring whenever I talk to him.

Both cats love to snuggle with Nelson

Coming from a feral background, both kittens also love the company of other cats. There’s lots of purring and following our resident boy, Nelson, when we let him into their rooms.

These boys would make excellent companions to a household with some feral experience. Winnie still does not and may never like to be held. He no longer hisses when you come into his room, but he will run away if you get too close. Still, his trills and play antics are a joy to be around, especially if he has his play companion, Odel, or other cats to romp with. Odel does not prefer to be picked up, but once snuggled in your arms wrapped in a blanket, he will relax and purr contentedly. But, he may not choose to stay long, especially if he’s in play mode. Both kitties love to play with toys on a string, mice, ball in a doughnut, and undercover mouse. I suspect, with patience, Odel will become more and more affectionate towards people while Winnie will always be curious but is likely to maintain his physical independence.

Odel wonders what the future holds for him

These beautiful boys  would do great in a stable home with lots of room to play where there is little expectation for them ever being lap cats. They will continue to need socializing for a while and may not yet be ready for roaming freely in a large house. But as time goes on, I suspect their affection will grow as they feel more secure and settle into their forever home.

I created a
flyer to post in pet stores.

 

Winnie with our crazy resident cat Nelson.

Winnie Being Pet

Winnie being wary

Update: Both these cats have gone to great homes!

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So, we renamed Bob to Button. I liked the nicknames that came from Bob such as “Bobster” and “Boblet” but he was not a straight Bob. I think he’ll also grow out of being a “Button” but the lucky people who adopt this guy can find a name he will grow into.

Our last post about Button ended with him and Ginger starting to play together. By the evening of their 3rd day they were good buddies. I put one of our cat beds on my desk. It just fits one of our adult cats but will hold two kittens. On the third day, when they were well on their way to being friends, after a round of play, Ginger was laying in the bed. Button approached the bed and sat down. I could see that he dearly wanted to get in bed with her but did not know if she would accept him. I have my self and seen other people have the exact same hesitation: should I approach them or not? Well, little Button tested the waters with a paw, sat back as if nothing was going on, then climbed into bed with Ginger. I would like to say she was completely accepting, but Ginger is a little feisty. She gave a few play swats but they did settle down together. Since then we frequently see them snuggling together. I think Button has been having the time of his life.

Huddling under monitor

In bed together

More relaxed

More relaxed

Ginger's feet double as a chin rest

 

The first time I heard Button purr was when Nelson came into the room He got all excited, jumped down on the floor, and started purring. The little guy really likes cats. He’s approached all our residents in the same way. Unfortunately, they are adults with adult worries and not enough social graces to be gentle with a young one. After Button was rebuffed by Nelson I picked Button up and told him it was Nelson, not him and that he is perfectly lovable as he is. And this was the first time he purred when I was holding him.

Marie and I have both been picking him up more. Now he is comfortably enough with touch that he will generally let us pet him, will usually start purring, and often remains relaxed. He is more relaxed when we pick him up, more so with Marie. The first couple days we had him we never heard him purr.

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On Saturday evening Deborah brought us a little feral grey tabby in need of more socialization. He was always the timid one of the litter. His siblings were handsome, interested kittens but Button held back. While his littermates were adopted, Button was clinging to his mother and would not open up to human interaction, which would make it difficult for him to be adopted. The difficult decision was made to separate him from his mother and bring him here to socialize with us.

This arrangement was not only better for Button, but also for Ginger, the female orange tabby who is still waiting for a home, and who seemed lonely after we adopted out her brother.

Button arrived scared and immediately crawled into the cubby hole. Ginger went in to find out what it was about and snuggled with him. A good start. However, once Button started to explore the room Ginger started to hiss at him.

Button would let us pick him up but he really didn’t respond to human touch. Biscuit and Ginger started shy, but as soon as we touched them they wold purr and melt. They were easy to socialize. Two weeks later Ginger was affectionate and reasonably confident. Button, on the other hand is not affectionate and just scared.

Sunday Morning

Button crawled onto Marie’s lap. Well, really into a safe hole under her legs but close enough. He mostly hid and we let him do this. Ginger came out and demonstrated how receiving pets from a human was fun. Button got interested in Ginger’s purring and came to investigate but when the two got close Button flinched and they both jumped back and hissed. I introduced Button to the under-monitor cubby, which Ginger had abandoned. He seemed to like being near me. At the end of the day he appeared very relaxed.

Button-Relaxed.JPG

Button relaxing

Sunday Night

Marie decided to sleep in the kitten room to give Button more time around people and to make sure the play between Button and Ginger never got too rough. The sleep cycle of kittens and people is somewhat different. Kittens tend to go through several sleep, eat, play cycles during the night while most people just want to sleep. But this night, there wasn’t much sleep to be had. Between trying to comfort one crying kitten, cleaning up the vomit of the other, and enduring the random play and missteps of both throughout the night, she couldn’t have had more than 4 hours of actual shut eye. Poor Button spent much of the night pacing and crying – we think calling for his mother.

Monday Morning

While not affectionate, Button wanted to be closer to both of us.

Mainly, he missed his mom and kept calling for her with loud peeps. Our girl Luna sometimes walks around the house carrying a stuffed toy yowling in a plaintiff way. We always thought she may be looking for her lost kittens. As soon as Button heard Luna he was at the door peeping as loud as he could. Eventually I let him out. In contrast to his shy behavior he strode boldly into our bedroom, ears forward, tail held erect. He wanted to be friends with Luna but she was decidedly luke warm. Eventually he settled under our bed. After he had some rest there I brought him back into my office. There he found a mouse and started playing with it.

Through the afternoon I would bring out the mouse toy and play with both of them. When focused on play they were willing to get much closer to each other without hissing. By evening, when I left off playing with them Button would continue and Ginger then join in. They still have moments of surprise and hissing. Ginger appears to be much more wary of Button than Button is of her. Mainly, Button is having fun and relaxing.

Next is to get him to really enjoy being held and petted.

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.