|B.W., Spot, Tortie, Scotty|
|Sparks with Tortie and Spot|
Ever conscious that all kittens need early socialization to help them learn how to function in a world filled with humans I regularly visited the kittens from day one. At first I just talked to them so they’d recognize my voice later but when I judged that the mothers would allow it I reached in and touched them several times a day. I never trusted the mothers. Instead I fashioned a shield of sorts out of a box. I left the bottom and one side open and lowered the open bottom over the kittens blocking mamma kitty from my hand. The only time the mothers had any complaint about this method was when I started to pick up the kittens and they would “mew”.
Even before their eyes opened the kittens were developing unique personalities. Taylor, for instance, hissed every time she heard my voice. When I touched her she even spat at me – before her eyes were open! Scotty was the most outgoing of his litter coming forward on his own toward my voice.
When it came time for their eyes to open it seemed like it happened in an instant. First I noticed Spotty’s eyes, just a slit but opening just the same. Next came B.W. and Scotty. Gaia was a little harder to tell because she liked to hide in her mother’s fur. As soon as their eyes were completely opened Tourmalina’s kittens eyes seemed to just pop open. And Taylor’s tirades continued.
|Scotty's temporarily folded ear|
This is when the names started coming. First it was Spotty and B.W., obvious names for black and white kittens. They were only temporary names, after all. Taylor’s name just came to me. I guess it was that mysterious connection again. I kept calling her Taylor Dane for some reason. When Scotty’s ears suddenly folded one day, he had his name, a nod to the Scottish Fold breed.
His tortoiseshell sister already had a home waiting for her so I didn’t even bother giving her a very imaginative name. I simply called her Tortie. She and I never did really have any type of a connection at all. Perhaps it was because we both knew where she would be going. My home was simply a kind of kindergarten for her.
|Trucker's first venture out of the nest|
It wasn’t long after their eyes opened that they started leaving the nest. One of the red tabbies came barreling out of his nest but then turned around and slipped back in. He wasn’t quite that brave yet. But a short time later he did it again. This time he came all the way to the door of the cage. He was truckin’ so I called him Trucker. Trinket, the brown-patched tabby, was next. She meandered about the cage and found the water bowl. She wasn’t interested in me at all. Taylor took charge and quickly came out of the cage toward me. She climbed up on my legs and made herself at home telling me all about her day. She was a talker just like a Siamese but with long hair.
The other two red tabbies weren’t interested in anything outside their nest. Finally I decided to pull them out myself and get them introduced to being held. One turned out to be a female, a surprise since most red tabbies are male. I thought Tinkerbell would suit her. Then, since all of the others in that litter had names starting with “Ts” I stuck the last red tabby with the moniker of Tweety Pie. I hoped that he turned out to be a sweetie. I received an email from a retired English professor (ironically one of my instructors from the past) that she wanted a red tabby female, so Tinkerbell was tentatively spoken for.
Soon the room was full of kitten bodies that at first stumbled about investigating their world. They quickly developed their sense of balance and made the room their own. Meanwhile the mother cats grew accustomed to the regular routine and gave me no trouble. As I cleaned their litter pans they stayed at the opposite end of the cage. When I fed them they waited until the cage door was closed to attack the food. We had a great arrangement.
Next time I’ll tell you what it was like to have 9 kittens running around a single small room and two wild mothers who cooperated while retaining their wildness. For now just remember that if you have kittens that need homes:
1. Socialize them early
2. Begin looking for homes as soon as possible
3. Use photos – they really influence the soft-hearted
|Outgrowing the nest|