Wim and I are both thinking a lot about the future of this cat and her kittens. The first 2 milestones have been reached smoothly: trapping her and getting her into her birthing shelter safely. Now we are heading to number 3: the birth of the kittens. Then we have 8-12 weeks or so to tend to them and to momma and maybe start socialising her more and more. Considering that I got a ‘blink’ from Mitsy today and that, twice, she did not move back into her Nest when I was there, gives us hope that this is possible.
The 4th milestone will be the surrender of the kittens and having Mitsy spayed. When that happens, depends on the socialisation process. If things go well and we are allowed to handle the kittens, maybe we can hold on to them for more weeks. And give some respite to Mitsy, before her neutering. That in itself will be milestone 5. We will care for her until she is recovered. That may be in Basement, mostly, but if socialisation has gone well, maybe by then we will have moved the family to the upstairs. Who knows.
And milestone 6 will be the ultimate one: can we keep Mitsy or do we keep a kitten and release her elsewhere? My heart goes to Mitsy, but it is possible that it will not be possible to make her an ‘indoor’ cat.
I feel a strong bond with Mitsy, especially when she relaxes. I admire how courageous and smart she is.
I think that the few days I spent inviting her to eat in the house instead of on the terrace have installed the beginnings of trust. So I hope that it is in the Universe’s plan to let me keep her. She reminds me of Dixie and I know that this may be a bit of an illusion. Dixie was one of a kind and even though Mitsy looks like her a bit, they are different cats. I know nothing about Mitsy’s history.
And, still possible: she will be scanned and if she was pre-owned, her owners might simply have lost her or they might have moved and Mitsy might have moved back to the old house. All scenarios are possible. I have shown her picture numerous times on several Lost and Found Facebook pages but nobody has claimed her yet. Maybe her owner died. Maybe she was dumped when she turned out to be pregnant. Maybe she was honestly lost and never found. To us, she does not come across like a feral but she is certainly a stray that is familiar with people. Cautious, for sure. But not rejecting them per se.
The night following the trapping, I had my laptop set up in my bathroom, wifi and sound on, just in case something would happen with Mitsy in the basement. I got up several times that night and did not sleep well. As much adrenaline in my blood as in Mitsy’s. Last night was better. No laptop and phone on airport. Upon waking up I made myself go through the normal routines first: checking for messages and email. Saw Wim’s email saying that Mitsy was lying outside of the Nest, stretched out in Basecamp, when he got up (he is an early bird and is usually up hours before me…). When I looked at the cat cam footage I felt such relief!
I saw that she had done another reconnaissance around 4 am. No doubt looking for a way out. But I also saw that she slept for a long time on the heated blankie I put out last night. Yay for my cat instincts!
When I checked on her food this morning, she did not scurry into the Nest and I decided not to disturb her by opening the Basecamp door. I just talked to her a bit, then used the watering can to add kibble, which she had been eating a lot from. Then I left. Gradually she went to sleep and she stayed out of the Nest for the whole day, lying stretched out on the blankie. Yey! So happy about that!
Below is a short video of how the first days of feeding went. This was the routine:
First, I unfastened the door of the carrier from the side of the crate and then pushed it close.
Mitsy did not really react to that. She could have stormed out if she had been really aggressive but she never did that.
I put on my bite gloves, used a wooden dowel to close the carrier door and then opened the crate door to lock the carrier door. From then on I could access everything in the crate without danger to myself or the risk of escape by Mitsy. I soon found out that this routine was more stressing to her, than just going ahead and open de sidedoor and do my business. So this was just a starting routine to get familiar with each other.
I went to return the trap to its owner later today. I also donated our own Havahart contraption to them: it is too forceful to my liking, but others may look at it differently. It is not a cheap thing to donate, but I know it will get better use than when we store it somewhere in our garage or basement.
We also received our metal ‘dividers’ today. Those we will hold on to. They are meant to corner trapped animals so you can inject them or manipulate them to go in a certain part of the trap. Especially when we are dealing with real feral cats that fight and attack, this is an essential tool. Our other more humane trap is still in transport from the US. I think it will be good to have a trap like that – who knows, we may want to get involved in more of this type of rescue work. Just with cats that we have less attachment to so that it is not such an emotional roaler coaster as our current experience. Basecamp will be a good place for a temporary stay for Mitsy and who knows who will come after her.
This evening I saw her use the litter box and it looked like a big poop! Yay! Before she settled down for sleep, I went downstairs. She hid in the Nest, which was perfect, because it meant I could open the side entrance of Basecamp, keeping an eye on her, but without having to fiddle with the door to her Nest. I did not wear the bite-gloves this time; it was a bit of a gamble, but I just felt safe. Simply took out the old food bowls, replaced them with fresh ones (but forgot the water, that’s for tomorrow). And then I replaced the litter box.
The double litter box routine, invented by Wim
Wim has come up with this great idea of having 2 litterboxes and just putting in a fresh one, after taking out a soiled one. It is quicker than taking it out, cleaning it in the garage and bringing it back. Or even scooping it out in Basecamp. So that went really well. Then I left. When I got back, she was out of the Nest again and did not slip back in while I adjusted one of the camera’s and collected the old food bowls, which I had forgotten previously: I wanted to get the litter box out.
Man, it was STINKY! For real! Totally different smell from what our resident cat Suzi produces. And a perfect chance to get a little bit of it in a ziplock bag and have the vet check it. It will give us a first impression of her health. I expect there to be worms and we can probably add something to her food to remedy that. Let’s hope there are no other infestations or more somber findings.
After I was there the second time, she went into her Nest. I watched her for awhile. There was a lot of movement in her tummy. I think she likes being stretched out because it gives more space to the kittens. In the Nest she is a bit more bundled up and I think that might be why I see more movement. It is like the movie “Alien”!