Kittens grow so fast, before you know it they’re moving out, going to college and starting a family………….no, no, wrong story! They do grow too fast though. It seemed like they grew to be completely different kittens during the time I was at work during the day. I kept snapping pictures until I realized I was missing out on my time with them.
Soon I managed to arrange my time so that I could enjoy their antics and take pictures for posterity. And these kittens were extremely cooperative.
|Tortie fell asleep under her cage|
|Taylor the glamor girl|
Garage sales provided me with plenty of “stuff” to use in my photo sessions and the kittens posed like professionals. But not all of my shots were purposely posed with objects in the scene for kittens to interact with. I hung a sheet up across a shelving unit so that I would have a decent background and I just started clicking. I caught them playing with each other, with toys and even with the sheet itself.
|Trucker at his cutest|
Also during this time the cooperative, though still quite wild, mothers began coming out of their cages. They’d spent so much time in the cages that they had come to think of the cages as their homes. So when it came time for the kittens to go back to the cages to eat and sleep, the mothers did the same. That way everyone got some exercise and a chance to get away from each other.
|Spotty getting the best of Scotty, as usual|
Various cliques soon developed. The dominant clique consisted of brothers Spot, B.W. and Scotty but they were joined off and on by Trucker and Taylor. The younger kittens just couldn’t keep up with the older boys though so each evening Trucker would leave the group and get me to play with him. Then Taylor did the same but she eventually rejoined the boys just as Scotty left the other two. I don’t think Scotty liked the rougher play that developed through the evenings.
|Scotty tuckered out|
At this age, kittens tend to fall asleep very easily, sometimes right in the middle of their playing. I saw it many times. Two kittens would be wrestling then suddenly their heads droop and they are asleep. Other times a kitten would come over to sleep in my lap or struggle to get back to their nest to nuzzle at their moms.
Sadly this was also a period when prospective adopters came to see “their” kittens. I’d gone through this before but unfortunately for the previous kittens, I learned as I progressed from litter to litter. In ’94 I took in a large group of feral kittens, rehabilitated them and found them homes by inviting folks in to pick out their favorites. I did go so far as to have them fill out an application but I didn’t check them out or verify any of the information. Afterward I regretted that decision because I had no idea where those kittens went nor how they did in their new homes. The kittens that remained in the room after each adoption also suffered. They saw strangers come into their safe zone and when they left another kitten disappeared. By the time the last kitten was adopted he was extremely upset with the presence of his strangers.
The next litter of kittens didn’t go through that stress and I knew exactly where the adopted one ended up. Yes, out of five kittens four stayed with me. Fuzzball was the only one I didn’t bond with but a good friend of mine wanted him. Interestingly he was the only one I couldn’t find a permanent name for either. The ones that stayed were Mewdy Blue, Question, Sky Voice and Bluebird.
|Tweety, always the quiet one|
I had a couple of other disheartening experiences that formed my new plan. Little Boy went to a nice woman who seemed to genuinely love him but a very short time later she showed up at my door saying he bit her. You see, Little Boy had a habit of giving little love bites that might be misconstrued as aggression but he was never an aggressive cat. So he came to live with me. Then a family with a couple of teenage daughters adopted Lady Butterfly. A couple of weeks later I got a call that Lady was not fitting into their family, that she was hiding in the closet and wouldn’t come out. She is a very affectionate cat who loves people of all ages as well as dogs so that didn’t make any sense to me. She came back to me and quickly became not only a show cat but also a popular pet therapy cat. She is nearly unflappable.
With those experiences behind me I knew from the start that I had to do better with these litters. I researched contracts used by cat breeders and came up with my own. I devised a plan to find the new families for these kittens. Instead of advertising in the usual sense, I spread the word around my place of business (the College of Veterinary Medicine) figuring that I would find more fitting adopters. In addition I checked their references (their veterinarians) and I delivered the kittens to their homes so that I knew the situation the kittens would be living in.
Even with all this, things don’t always go as planned. I’ll tell you more about the separations next time.