Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Biggest Challenge Yet on the Kitten Front

We have a new kitten in the house, and this one will be a challenge.

We have fostered three kittens (here and here about halfway down) for the Spaymart, kittens that have undergone some kind of trauma and had trouble learning to socialize. And in each case we've been able to help them calm down and get adopted into homes where they're now loved and loving members of the family.

Kitten in the Closet
The new one is about eight weeks, but that's a guess. She was part of a litter of four found int he wild and brought to the Spaymart. Two were adopted. This one and the third got sick and were at a vet's office that – well, let's say care for the animals seemed to be secondary to the vet's convenience. The third died. And the one with us now was pretty badly traumatized.

We were told going in that, if we can't make any headway with her, they have a feral cat colony, so no pressure. That's not a great image to start with. And she sure showed no sign of wanting to be part of a family. She's scared.

Tori opened the cat carrier and she dashed behind the couch, where she spent most of her first day. We knew she used the cat box – which was kind of a miracle since it's in the laundry room and we never had a chance to show it to her – but we never saw her. Shame too, she's a very pretty cat.

Unlike the other three kittens we've fostered, this one didn't even have a name. She does now, but she had to earn it.

The second day she ran into our bedroom, burrowed into the closet, and spent the next two days there. We'd peek in, pushing aside the hanging clothes, talking to her the whole time and never reaching for her. All we could see was her eyes staring out. She didn't hiss, didn't strike out. Just stared.

Tori has spent hours, sitting outside the closet just talking and waving cat toys at her, the kind on the long flexible rod with a bunch of stuff fluttering around. And the cat started responding, tracking the beguiling objects and batting at them.

It's just a matter of patience. Lots and lots of that. We can't force anything. We haven't even tried to touch her yet. Just keep talking to her, keep playing with her, keep letting her know we're here and aren't going to hurt her. No sudden movements.

Ellen the Explorer
She mostly stayed in our closet for two days. We never saw her leave, but she did because the cat box was being used and the food disappearing.

She finally came out yesterday. And that's how she earned her name. We call her Ellen, because she came out of the closet.

She's spending most of her time behind the furniture in the living room. Right now I see she's very tentatively slipped around the corner, alert for any movement, ready to run. She's been at the food and water bowls, which are kind of out int he open, for about ten minutes. She's aware we're here, Tori at the kitchen table, me at my work station in the living room, and she's very cautious. Now she's exploring the living room. She's keeping her distance, but she's out.

Time. It's just a matter of time, I guess.

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