|Scotty preparing to leave the nest|
Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the kittens were just looking to escape their cages. The first step was to get out of their “nests” which were low-sided boxes lined with towels. I set up new boxes to act as their temporary playrooms and that’s just how they used them. For the reluctant ones I used a toy, foil strands attached to a plastic wand, to attract their attention. Although they weren’t quite coordinated yet, they still had the drive to play.
At first they just watched the toy, enthralled. Eventually they’d stumble out of their boxes and into their playrooms. By this time they had also begun to play with each other, really a sight to behold. They were hilarious, tumbling about unable and not caring to maintain their upright positions.
|Scotty and Tortie/Gaia|
This period in any kitten’s life is crucial to developing their social skills. They learn how hard to bite without hurting by biting their littermates until they scream. One screams and walks away thus ending the play session. Playing also helps them develop their motor skills and get them ready for hunting – whether or not they’ll need that skill. For housecats it is also the time to learn how to interact with humans. They are able to see the person who goes with the voice they’ve been hearing and learn whether to trust her or not.
Some of the kittens were just too curious to remain in their cage once they left the nest. Sparks’ kittens were first, of course, even going so far as to investigate the other cage. B.W. came first choosing to investigate my feet and legs over anything else. Then Spotty followed finding the other litter to be a real curiosity. Finally Trinket, from Tourmalina’s litter just couldn’t stand it any longer. She just had to figure out what these other furry creatures were so she slipped out of her nest.
|Scotty on my lap|
Soon all of the kittens were out and about interacting and learning how to climb, burrow, play, and eat. I could tell right away which kittens were going to be the most social. Trucker preferred to climb and perch on my feet to playing with the others while Scotty much preferred to cuddle up on my lap. Taylor also preferred my company but she usually fought with the big boys first then enticed me to play with her. When Trucker tired of perching on my foot he’d sneak around behind me and climb up my back. Soon Scotty followed his example. That’s when they all learned about toenail clippers!
|Tortie the bully and Tinkerbell|
Now, I could very easily have fallen in love with any of the red tabbies, especially Trucker and his antics, but I fought to remain objective about them. You see, my best show cat, Misha Baryshnikat, was a red tabby. He was one of those “special” cats that took a part of my heart when he left for the Rainbow Bridge. I feared that I would always compare other red tabbies to him giving them very little chance to fill those paws. Sometimes, though, you realize you have no control over what happens.
I was quickly falling in love with Taylor and Scotty, however. Obviously Scotty was doing his best to further this by cuddling with me and falling asleep on my lap or in my arms every time I sat down in the room. Taylor was just becoming a beautiful little girl and I admired her toughness when playing with the older kittens. She was undaunted by anything they did to her. Those piercingly deep blue eyes just drew me in. Her lengthening fur, so creamy and soft didn’t hurt. Also, she was the only female to warm up to me. As I mentioned Tortie and I just didn’t seem to have any connection at all even though I love torties. Trinket was an independent girl from the start and Tinkerbell remained skittish. Since Tinkerbell already had a likely home, I hoped she’d calm down eventually.
You might wonder what the mother cats were up to during this time. Well, we developed a routine that seemed to suit them just fine. When the kittens first came out of the cages each day I’d clean out the cages and the litterpans, change their water and put in new food. The mother cats remained in the cages as far away from me as possible but never offering to attack me. Sparks would sometimes hiss at me but that’s as far as it ever got. They seemed to trust me to a point but I could never try to touch them. They weren’t and still aren’t willing to go that far.
As the kittens grew into their second month I began taking photos with random objects and even hung a sheet up as a background. They were all very cooperative with that, as you will see next time.
|Tourmalina and her litter|