Day 52 a.k.a. 1/17/16. I figure as long as I never get more than a day behind, I can still catch up. 😉
Today: KITTIES! Well, okay, one of them. If cats aren’t your favorite thing, feel free to skip this one…and probably the next 3 as well, because I think it’s going to be cats all the ways down…
A few weeks back I mentioned Momcat Phantom, who moved in under my house with a litter of five kittens and my plan to catch and socialize and adopt out said kittens.
I’d seen this cat, a pastel calico, hanging around for a week or two and started feeding her and leaving out water when we had a stretch of late-spring rain. I didn’t know there were kittens until I got back from a business trip: sitting in my home office (formerly my mom’s room), I saw a streak of something dark go past the window on the little railing by the walkway. Didn’t pay much attention until a few minutes later when I very definitely heard a kitten crying. Out of the office to the front door, opened the door, and there was this wee black kitten who immediately hightailed it back where it came from. It didn’t seem like the “my mother has abandoned me” sort of cry, so I figured everything was fine.
A day or two later, I went into the back yard for something — possibly to top up Phantom’s food and water — and what do I see just at the end of the path between my house and my neighbor’s? A clutch of kittens! The black one was actually a tortoiseshell with a splotch or tabby-stripped orange on her chest and one hind leg that was also tabby-striped, and there were four more, two very orange-and-black stripey-splotchy kittens (Halloween kittens!), another pastel calico, and a white one with orangey-brown tabby-ish markings on its head, back and tail.
Everyone scattered, of course, and that’s when I realized I was dealing with a momcat and not just a stray. I switched Phantom to kitten food because she was still nursing the kittens, and I could see the kittens were nearing the age to be weaned so they’d be on it as well soon enough. I had the idea to also add canned food to the meal plan, specifically to spoon-feed the kittens in the hope of getting them to come close enough to me to start petting them, thus beginning the grand socialization.
From here, I’m going to focus on one kitten at a time, the three I managed to catch. And after the pastel calico kitten and one of the orange-and-black ones disappeared, I became fairly determined. By this time, Phantom would come up to me and let me pet her, as long as I didn’t try to restrict her movements, but the kittens weren’t all that thrilled with the idea, despite the fact the tortie and the remaining Halloween kitten were eating canned food off the spoon. The white-and-brown one wouldn’t even do that — it would scoot under my car and come out only far enough to score a nugget of canned food, then back under the car it went.
I spent a lot of time in the back yard on the porch swing, Phantom at my feet waiting to get petted and the three kittens only coming close if I paid no attention to them at all. Gradually, the tortie and the Halloween kitten would jump up onto the porch swing with me, not getting close enough to grab but accepting the very occasional skritch. When the kittens were about three months old, by my best guess, Phantom got pregnant again, and that moved the timeline up some more because I figured she’d either run off the older kittens or find a different place to have the pending litter.
So one day, when the tortie was on the swing beside me, I moved one hand as slowly as I could until it was behind her, and then…I nabbed her! Cuddled her up and immediately took her into the house to sequester her in the bathroom pending her first vet visit. And I say “her” but at the time I wasn’t sure, even though I knew male torties are extremely rare. I noticed there were markings around her eyes that reminded me of the description of the markings around the eyes of Minerva McGonagall’s feline form, so I decided if it was a boy after all, he’d be Specs, and if a girl, Minerva.
Yep, it was a girl. Meet Minerva.
(She had the laser eyes going for this one. 🙂 )
It took a while, but she likes to be petted now, although she is NOT a fan of being picked up. Seems like half the time she’s off by herself, and the rest she’s either cuddled up to one of her sisters or asking me for skritches. And now and then, she’ll put a hesitant paw on my leg, then another, and if I’m lucky she’ll decide to curl up on or beside me. No hesitation about curling up on me, or behind me, when I go to bed, though. 😉
And know you know Minerva. I’m happy I was able to catch her. I’m happy to still have her.
Next up: Houdini.