Last night was the first night the feline family was uncrated and had the entire room to themselves. We felt it was time.
Looking at the cat cam footage, nothing happened that was out of order, the room survived! Yey! Another milestone in the life of the kittens and Mitsy.
The most important thing to make the room ‘kitten-proof’ were the window and the electrical cables. The window had a good setup from the get-go. And we used special covering materials for the cables that are said to discourage biting. The kittens have never showed interest in the cables, truth be told, but it was just one less worry for us to protect the cables as best as we good. For good measure I also wiped them with some tea tree. It is a scent that most animals really hate so even if they sniffed the cables, it would not be very inviting for them.
Extra litter boxes
We have a good collection of litter boxes due to the many cats that have been a part of our family in the past. The biggest one is sold under the name ‘giant litterbox’ and that is what it is. You can see it in the above picture in the top left corner. It has two small ‘pockets’ that the designers probably meant to hold the poop scoops, but our kittens think differently… and use it as hiding and lounging places!
So, the open room now has one giant box, a medium box and we are also still using the two small litter boxes in the crates. The general advice is to have as many litter boxes in your house as cats, plus 1. This not only ensures that there is plenty of ‘restrooms’, but it also helps with cats bullying or bothering each other as they are doing their business. Cats are creatures of habit, so they are moving slowly from the original two boxes to the bigger ones, but it is going well.
Introduction to new situations
Now that the kittens are ready for adoption, we are also experimenting with taking them to new places. Pumba, Kabiri and Sipke have both spent a little time with us in one of our bathrooms. Lid of toilet closed, of course 🙂 , and no thrashcans in the room with the flippy-floppy swinging lids. Both could get kittens in some serious trouble, especially if they were unsupervised. We took all kittens there solo. Kabiri was not very happy about it. He sank onto his belly and was not at ease. Pumba did not like it at first, but got a lot of comfort from my presence and then went exploring in the room. The most unaffected was Sipke, the littlest of our tabbies. She was of course aware that this was a new space, but as long as I was in the room with her, she was very confident and went exploring. She is one of the kittens that is interested in sitting in our laps, if only for a few minutes. Or she comes leaning against our legs. It is endearing.
So the next ones in line will be Stipke, Spooky and Cheetah.
Today we also vacuumed the room again and even thought they are not big fans, they were not as afraid as the first time. But they still made sure to be very close to Mitsy while it was going on. The only one that was less afraid was Pumba, who was just minding his own business in the cat tree…
Most kittens are timid with strangers… give them time to adjust to your home!
Kittens are adorable and friendly when growing up in a safe an friendly environment. Kittens copy their mom’s behaviour towards humans and in that respect we count our blessings that Mitsy has been friendly with us most of the time. You will read in older posts how she would sometimes hiss at us and even try to swap us with her paw. But we never got hurt and I think that this is because we never forced any contact on her, unless it was really necessary. We showed this outside cat (not feral, but really undomesticated) the respect she needed and ultimately is resulted in a slightly distant, but friendly relationship.
At the same time we are very aware of the fact that her socialisation is focussed on the two of us. And not on ‘strangers’. Stranger who enter her world (which is at this time the one room) are met with a certain protectiveness. That makes total sense to me. The kittens, once they are moved to the adoption center in the Pet Smart store in Oakville Place, will not be on their best behaviour. The environment is strange and new, mom is no longer there and they will not know any of the volunteers there. But the whole idea of exposing them to new people is to install in them that humans (most of them, anyway!) can be trusted and are a lot of fun. And a soft place to nap… And bringers of good food. New owners can easily win the trust of their kitten if they just give them some time to adjust – and lots of fun, games and love!