Have not written the past few days. The nursery family is doing great. We have all been doing our routines. I try to work on socialisation of Mitsy. And here is the great news: the kittens are starting to open their eyes and their ears are starting to open and stand up. Mitsy has presented two of the kittens to me, at least, that is how it feels. She was in the Nest, head out, and two different kittens on Friday night and Saturday night, one with fully open eyes, the other with one open and the other still half closed, were clearly aware of my presence.
I discovered the other day when I was preparing the second crate, that Mitsy likes when I sing. Her eyes become more friendly and relaxed and it is a beautiful thing to see. I tried to offer her treats the other day but I don’t think she knows the concept. So I tried to get one close to her mouth using a barbecue tool. I knew by looking at her face that that was not going to go down well. In other words: that she was going to slam at the thing. And she did. She did not attack, just hit it with her paw, but did not move back into the carrier. I think it is just to clunky and might actually look frightening to her. Never mind the treat that was in it… Right before that happened, I had tried to straighten her blankie with one of the dowels. It did not work. But I was curious to see what she thought of the dowel and she actually did not take a swing at it but smelled it. Again, without lashing out. Progress, not perfection!
Back to the kittens. Both were clearly aware of me. In our favourite kitten book I read that when the eyes open, they can see light and dark and shapes, but their brain still has to learn to interpret what all of that means. It was super cute. When Mitsy hisses at me, ears to the side (which means ‘warning’ and ‘fear’, not agression – that would be when her ears go backwards as well) I think: she cannot be socialised. Where is she going to go? But when she allows me to get closer I feel I lean towards ‘keeping’ her. Oh well, we are only a good week in and I think we are doing well. One step at a time.
Oh and just in case you are interested: the book I am talking about is entitled “Nine Lives”. My version is in Dutch and I was not able to find an English one with the same cover photo. It was written and photographed bij by Jane Burton, Kim Taylor and Michael Allaby. Fabulous pictures of a big cat family, with heaps of info about ‘the secret life of cats’. I found it here on Amazon.
I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I now often use the front door to refresh all food and water. It is much cleaner and quicker and when she is in the Nest, I feel it is safe to do that. I try to read her facial expressions to make sure that I do not put myself in danger. The litter is something that I think I can only do through the side door. I do it daily now and just watch the Nest cameras to see when she is fully engaged in feeding in the carrier. That is the safest moment. I do put the bite gloves on for that. I pull the box out by grabbing the side closest to me and put the new one in like that as well. The system works well.
Not sure how that will go when we open up the new crate, but we will let the little ones get a bit bigger first.
We finished the first round of worm treatment this Wednesday. The poop looks good, but a bit dry. It also looks enormous! Man, this cat can shit! I might add a tiny bit of the laxa powder to help her pass it a bit easier… I am also starting to like the Yesterday’s News non-clumping litter more and more. Having the corn litter I first considered, would make a lot more mess especially when the kittens start going on it as well. It will be another week before they can move their own bowels, I read. They seem to be pretty quick in their development, but I hope that part of it still takes another week – less work for me!
The new rhythm of the day now is that the whole family sleeps in the afternoon. All of them. Mom often sleeps outside of the carrier. I find it endearing that most of the time she leaves either a leg or her tail in the carrier though, almost as a lifeline to the kittens. If they would move or start to look for her, she would instantly know. It is like an extension of her whiskers. Very cool natural instinct.
Another thing that we really enjoy watching is how she gets more confident and resolute in cleaning the kittens. She takes no nonsense from them. If they want to ‘escape’ and go ‘walkabout’ or don’t want her to stimulate their bowels, despite loud meeping, she simply places a paw on them so they cannot move away and goes about her business.
When they quarrel, she does not interfere. Sometimes she looks at them. She seems to spend more time with them in the Nest now. Possibly because we do have to run the AC sometimes. That can make the temperature in the basement come down by 3 degrees. Either that, or they have really adopted the Nest as the Basecamp within the Basecamp. We have just started to use that name for the first crate. The other will be the gym or something like that, hehe.
We have also started to name 2 more of the kittens. There is Prima (Donna), the tabby kitten that opened its eyes first. And then there is Kabiri, which is Rwandese for ‘Second’. Hubby Wim has a history with Rwanda, where his parents did missionary work and his sister worked there as a midwife for a number of years. Kabiri is in the process of opening his eyes We believe he is male and the Prima is female. Kabiri is gender neutral. If Prima is a male, we will switch to Primo!
When I spend time downstairs, I sing and move around normally, not really looking at Mitsy, just sideway glances. She is unfased, but does keep an eye on me. Today, after feeding her an afternoon post-nap-time meal, I was fiddling with my old Canon camera (useless downstairs because it does not do well in low light and is too close to make the mesh disappear in pictures). From the corner of my eye I saw her come out of the carrier and eat. She usually waits until I am gone or at least further away. Another small step forward.
I was wondering also: when the kittens walk towards me and let me touch them through the mesh, they might actually be helping me in the socialising process. Mitsy watches it all with a puzzled look. “Why are you touching them?” I can see her think about it.
If they trust me and come to no harm, who knows, she might do the same… we live and hope (without expectations)…
Evening post script
Just now another kitten was presented to me – mom was waiting for food, stretched out in front of the Nest and one of her fattest kittens was with her. He is most definitely male and he is enormous by comparison with the others! Short of calling him Fatzo, which is not very nice and it might be he just looks like his dad: the big long-haired Tom, I thought Chubby would fit him or even better: Archie. Hm. I like that better.
His eyes were not open yet but he was checking out all of mom’s tits for milk and I was truly amazed by how large he already was.
He must have been either the first or second on to be born, because the birthing started with 2 big ones and Vampy/Draky at the end and that was a really small female.
So… 3 down, 3 to go when it comes to personal meetings.
Mom was allowing me to film and photograph from close-up. No more than a foot between us. She was eating, I was holding my cell phone to the edge of the crate to get rid of the mesh. At some point, before eating, she was with her head past the half of the litter box and I did not want to jinx the moment so only filmed for a few seconds. I only had my surgical gloves on and you never know, if she were to lash out, she would have gotten me.
It might be that she likes that I am literally on my knees in front of the crate and not above her. Less overwhelming. I think those kittens will be very helpful for the socialising process and it makes me think we might even be able to keep mom.