This past week I have opened up the house to the feline family bit by bit. Mitsy stays in her cat room most of the time and when she does come out, she seems to have her eyes mostly on the kittens. She talks to them continuously and sometimes it turns into a meow; I am guessing that means she is worried where they are. When I check, without fail one of the kittens has maneuvered itself into a slightly awkward position or she can no longer see them. So I think Mitsy is asking me to come and have a look!
Initially I had boarded up the space between the posts of the upstairs railings, because I was afraid the kittens would wriggle through them at too young an age. Kittens can in fact see depth, but I didn’t want to take risks here. Those wooden stairs can be bone breakers with nothing to hold on to if there were ever an accident. The cats are used to carpet and stuff to hold on to but they would have nu purchase on the wood. Also, I did not want to trigger their already big curiosity with seeing right through the posts. I had Suzi in mind with this as well. I was unsure that the cats would all be comfortable with unexpectedly running into each other.
Below is a video of just one minute showing all of the cats playing and the kittens running up and down the stairs. Multiply this by … much … and you get the idea of what it is like to have them exploring the house. The inmates are running the asylum!
But… we have reached a new milestone now. In order to keep Stipke off the top of the railings doing a tedious balancing act, I have removed the boarding, leaving just a little barrier with bars in place to slow down their actions. It seems to work. The kittens can now see through the posts and there is no need to climb the railing to see more. Nothing to hold on to either. In the beginning this resulted in 2 little kitten faces observing the ground level of the house through the posts. They are now big enough to make squeezing their bodies through uncomfortable; but their little faces can peek through. I removed the last baby door and then the world was open to them all for a couple of supervised hours per day. We usually do 2 sessions, which mimics what will be their new reality if they do end up in the Adoption Centre.
Stipke gets the scoop
Timid Stipke surprised me by being the first to go all the way downstairs. It happened just like that. I applauded silently, because it means she has much better control over her legs now. Of course, later, she stumbled/slipped and it was the funniest thing to see how she responded: her back legs were just sliding down from step to step and she used her forelegs to step down very quickly until her feet got purchase again and she stopped. The alternative would have been a nasty fall, head over heels. Now she knows to take it easy on the wooden stairs and she does, although she has a style of her own that is different from Sipke’s. Running up the stairs, by contrast, is no problem at all for any of them. They all sometimes stumble but they are getting better by the day.
Sipke initially just observed it all from upstairs. He did not quite get it. He tried to squeeze through the posts of the railing. But then noticed that this would mean stepping into nothing. When he finally figured it out, he was not brave enough yet to go down all the way. Fine by me… He explored the landing instead, and ventured out into my office. This was his first confrontation with curtains and he was very curious about them. Thank God he did not try to climb in them. They are just sheers covering the mirrored cabinet doors so he could not do a lot of harm. Also a blessing: he is too small still to jump on the furniture. I think…
Up close and personal
I had some computer work to do, so I kept an eye on them all through the cameras from my office, but did not hold them back. Suzi, all the while, was resting on one of our dining room chairs. I am sure that she noticed Stipke, because the kitten actually walked into the kitchen and under the dining room table. They stared at each other, Suzi higher up and being in the superior position. This is, after all, her house and Stipke is the guest. There was no hissing or growling. Sipke, by contrast, came back to meet with Suzi several times after this. He is very interested… but he did meet with some warning signs. That seems natural, this is really up close and personal… Stipke was watching it in the background from a safe distance 🙂
Later, Suzi was on the couch when Mitsy showed up and Suzi did some hissing; Mitsy left without responding. It was as if I was in a time machine: the photo (left) is very similar to the one I took when Suzi was new in our house and Dixie walked back up to the couch after eating (right) and on her way to her bed to the side of the couch. The situations look oddly similar! Dixie and Suzi never became friends, but they tolerated each other without big issues. I would be very grateful if things were to work out like that between Suzi and Mitsy.
I have found a couple of ways to get them all to return to the cat room. The first line of defense is hissing at them. Next step up if that does not work: I blow into their faces. If that is unsuccessful, out comes the water-spray bottle. Or I simply switch our air purifying machine to a higher setting. It is quite noisy and it scares them enough to shoot back into the cat room. I have not had to switch the vacuum cleaner on yet… That will probably only come into play if there ever was a hostile confrontation between Suzi and Mitsy.
All in all things are pretty peaceful. Mitsy is very cuddly around meal- and snack time and both of us take delight in caressing her and seeing her ‘making biscuits’ with her large paws and hearing her soft purr (kneading). We touch mainly her head and neck, the preferred touch-areas of most cats. Sometimes we pat her back and tail as well. But lifting or relocating her is not an option yet. I almost had to do it the other day, because she wanted to steal food from little Stipke, but I could feel her tense up and she ran away quickly. Nothing aggressive. Of course, I am unsure what she would do if we really would have to move her. Like, in a carrier…
Another week and her spaying surgery will already be behind her. Gosh, I wish we were there already. Another moment filled with insecurity about her behaviour and the outcome. She will come home with the dreaded ‘cone of shame’ around her neck. Let’s pray that she accepts it. And hopefully is able to eat her kibble and drink her water from the raised food bowls we have for her. These days we sometimes feed her from a bowl held in our hands, by way of a treat and that is what we might have to do if she has trouble eating wet food. It will also be a bit messy with the cone. And we will either have to let that happen or find a way to clean the bloody thing up. When she has recovered well enough, we can remove it. O dear. I can only hope that she will by then trust our hands enough to cut the collar that will hold it in place. I have a nice cutting tool that has a short ‘beak’ that I think will do better than a pair of scissors.
Our own vet once told us that cat have an amazing ability to heal. They simply surrender to the moment, in today’s day, keep still when in pain and try to sleep. So smart!
Of course, when she manages to free herself from the cone after surgery, all bets are off and we might be in trouble when she starts to lick the site of the surgery. Let’s hope that the angels that have watched over us up to this moment will keep supporting us. Another full week will bring us a lot further towards a nice indoor future for Mitsy.
We got some good news today: we do not have to make haste with the house move yet! Hurray! We have ample time to find a new place (lease) and that means we can allow Mitsy some additional months in our house to continue socialising her. The only reason for us to stop that process and hand her over to the rescue group would be if there is ongoing aggression between her and Suzi. Again, we hope that the angels are watching over all of us so that something like that does not happen.
After she has recovered from spaying we will invite friends over to meet with her and see what the reaction is. It is a necessary exercise for safety. For example… Earlier this week, for hours and hours (and hours…), somebody in the neighbourhood was pouring concrete slabs around their property. The noise started before 7 am (yuc!!) and went on for a long time for multiple days.
When the work was finally completing I was looking out the window, while caressing Mitsy, who was sitting on the window bench. Across the road was a small delivery van and a guy stepped out. And to my surprise Mitsy growled! It was just for a second, but it seems she does not like other people to ‘trespass’, even from above. We will see. She kept purring and ‘making biscuits’ all the time, so clearly she had no issues with me.
Later Stipke was wondering what all the fuzz was about and despite the fact that there is an unobstructed view of the scene from the left window, she chose to stand up and look over the rim of the contraption I have put in place so that the cats cannot demolish the screened window (or escape). The noise did not seem to bother her and I think this was definitely not the first time she played Peeping Tom like this! She must not have heard of the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’…
All shall be well…
I will end this post with one of my favourite quotes by a lady called Julian of Norwich…
I am signing up for that!