“World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on October 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This day is meant to raise awareness about improving the welfare standards of the animals across the globe.”
Well, I can truthfully say that Wim and I are trying to do our very best to keep the standard of living for all of our pets as high as possible… In a previous life, I was the PR-manager of the national Humane Society in The Netherlands. I did it for 3 years and then left, because it was really hard for me to keep being courteous to people who mistreated animals. And there were many. I was never able to understand them and I figured: better leave than start killing them 🙂
It is funny how the Mitsy project teaches me to take it one step further. To be selfless, and make the kittens available for adoptions, as opposed to keeping them all. I know that this house and this time in my life cannot really accommodate six grown up cats. Just the cost of keeping them healthy and vaccinated would be totally insane. I don’t know if I just have bad memory, or that the prices of veterinary services were as high as they are now. I mean, a non-rescue rate neutering surgery can cost 500-700 Canadian dollars. That sounds insane to me. No wonder there are still so many unfixed cats around (that then or course reproduce whenever they run into another unfixed cat, thus adding to the already vast overpopulation of cats in suburbia and inner cities).
With Mitsy, we also need to stay selfless. She is becoming more approachable, as long as it is on her terms. I might be able to lift her to reposition her without her getting annoyed with me, but I am still not sure that I could just pick her up to place her in a carrier. When that becomes necessary I will probably prefer to lure her in with some yummy food. Most of her behaviour is food-motivated. Which shows that she has indeed experienced hunger while she was still an outdoor cat.
The twins are clearly in a different place. They are innocent, active, joyous and cuddly. They have no early life trauma. They are clean slates. Sipke will probably become a lap cat. He comes to sit with us after eating and greets us with a happy, tinkling sound when we enter the room. Stipke, his sister, is more reserved, but she too is growing into a lovely cat, welcoming us whenever we come to the room. She is small for her age and I am starting to think that she is the ‘rut of the litter’. She is a bit behind in her development. She is late with eating solids and she already knows that we will try and feed her away from the other two, so she gets a chance to finish whatever we have for her. A mix of kitten milk with liquid food works well, and, strangely enough, she also likes kibble. She is not big on any of the wet foods we have tried.
When I play with her, I move the cat-toy stick slower. She has now learned to properly jump at it, but she is definitely a lot less quick than her brother. Sipke will chase the cat-toy stick without stopping until I see him pant. And still he comes at it. I made some video of that in slo-mo with my telephone and you can clearly see how well he knows to always land on his feet. His ‘paw-eye’ coordination is excellent. He rivals what I saw the older kitten Spooky do a couple of weeks ago. He can jump as high as she did and he is quick as lightning. If I ever had mice in the house (which I don’t, knock wood!), they would be caught and finished of by him within minutes, is my guess.
Mitsy does not really run after the toy. I have gotten her to walk for a yard or so though, but then she lies down again. She is interested though. My guess is that two consecutive pregnancies in one season (one of which we believe did not end well) have taken a lot out of her. And being in a house as opposed to outdoors and busy with surviving is a lot less intense. She has become a bit of a couch potato… But she does participate and enjoys the play now and it helps her to get back into shape. Especially when I hide the stick-toy and she can hear it, but not see it. You can truly see her hunting instincts coming alive. This is an excellent development: you win the heart of a cat with food and with play…
Jumping the fence…
Yesterday Mitsy was playing with the kittens and I received an alert from one of the cameras that told me that she had jumped the fence that is in the door opening of the cat room. It was to be expected, although I thought the kittens would do it first. I have seen both of them climb in it and then look around and go back. I have started to keep the door open when I am working in my upstairs office. I am well aware that even the highest fence is just a deterrent for cats that can climb. There is no such thing as a guaranteed barrier. And that is fine. Ultimately we want her and the kittens to feel confident enough to go exploring. Suzi is asleep in one of the chairs downstairs for most of the day and we hope that this means we can prevent a sudden confrontation.
From what the cameras show me, Mitsy was engaged in play and simply ran to the door and jumped over the fence. It was either that or crash into it. Our landing has a mirrored closet and I always thought that that would initially stop whomever jumped over first. I don’t think any of the cats have ever seen a mirror. And this was true. She saw herself and her tail went all bushy and she checked it out with stiff movements. By then the camera alert had reached me and I went up the stairs to see who was the escapist. I was surprised to see it was Mitsy! When she became aware of me, she jumped back into the room…
I am not sure that I can control her movements if she were ever to go downstairs, where Suzi is. So I decided to vacuum the room not long after ‘the escape’ It was overdue but I just did not have the energy for it before. I did the landing first, so they knew it was coming and much like the last time, they hid out on and under the window bench. At some point Mitsy was brave enough to sniff the foot of the vacuum cleaner. Wow. So she knows it is not dangerous. Which is not to say she likes it… After that, I kept the door to the room closed the rest of the day.
Attack-cat versus retreating cat
It is open again now, as I write this, but the whole family is asleep. Well, Mitsy is never completely asleep, she is aware of everything that happens in the house. But she is lounging on the window bench. So as long as I keep the door closed when I am not there, it should be OK… By now we know that Mitsy is not an ‘attack-cat’. She knows that the room is hers, but she is also well aware that the rest of the house is not ‘hers’. She is the type of cat that retreats rather than confront. The only exception being her kittens. I think that if she ever felt her kittens were under threat, things might be different. But in that case I have the vacuum cleaner plugged in and ready to go downstairs. I think that I will be able to chase her off, back to the cat room, in case of an emergency. Suzi comes first in our house, there is no doubt in my mind about that. I will protect her if necessary. But let’s hope that things will take a more positive course in the future. Still hoping for an experienced foster family to stand up for her, so that her socialisation can be continued in a more open household… And of course we hope that the twins will also charm themselves into a new human family! If you are it, let us know!