I’m a cat person. I’ve had/lived with dogs in my past, and there have been some I’ve been genuinely fond of, but for some reason I bond with cats better. My Significant Other had two cats when we got together, and shortly thereafter one of them gave birth to four more at the foot of our bed, so we had six cats. We never did have the heart to find other homes for the kittens, though we did think about it. Eventually one cat died of old age, two others had unfortunate encounters with cars, and two succumbed to a genetic disease. We added a young cat at one point, but one of the neighborhood dogs who was illegally running loose killed her in our own yard. So we were down to one aging cat, who really missed his siblings. We were unsure about getting more kittens, because the last time we tried that the three male cats . . . well, let’s just say we had to rip out the carpet. Fortunately, one neighbor had cats, and they often came over and visited, so our aging cat didn’t get too lonely . . . until they moved. The meowing made it obvious he was lonely.
We decided to take the plunge. A co-worker had been talking about having kittens to give away. They were all females (which is what we wanted), and were a lovely tortoise color. So we invested in 1) kitten food, and 2) Comfort Zone by Feliway. Comfort Zone is a scent diffuser (like Glade plug-ins) that emits a scent similar to the pheromones cats produce on their faces to comfort each other. I couldn’t smell it (and I have a sensitive nose), but the idea is that it helps calm cats when they have to go to the vet (they make a spray version), or for cats who are nervous at home, or for when you introduce kittens into a new environment. I bought it at a PetSmart or PetCo for around $50, but am told you can get it much cheaper on-line. We plugged it in about 24 hours before we brought the kittens home, and it worked! The older cat did not spray, and the two kittens we brought home adjusted easily.
This one is Ginger. She got named that because she has more orange in her fur than the other one. The photo below is of her sister, Susan. (I know — very original names.) Susan got her name from a Terry Pratchett book we were re-reading at the time, featuring a no-nonsense character named Susan Sto Helit. When we first brought them home, Susan was the more assertive of the two, and Ginger seemed more shy. HA! Once both of them got used to their surroundings, it became obvious they were both very assertive, just in different ways. It took Ginger and the older cat about three days to get used to each other; it took Susan almost a week to get over her initial “Halloween cat” reaction. The older cat was disdainful of them for a while, but at least he stopped meowing for company at 3 a.m. When we saw him bathing Ginger on the ninth day, we knew things were going well. Lately the kittens have taken to climbing into the attic, where our older cat can no longer follow. If they are out of sight for a few hours, he starts meowing with concern (“What have you done with my kittens?”) until they eventually come down again.
I don’t remember the kittens who were born at the foot of our bed being quite this energetic. Am wondering if it has something to do with their build — three of those cats had the bulkier “forest cat” body type, while the older cat we still have has the leaner “Egyptian cat” body style of the kittens. Am also wondering if those kittens born at the foot of our bed were better behaved because their mom was around. I keep telling our older cat he needs to talk with the kittens about behaving, and he gives me this “Huh? You brought them home” look. Susan and Ginger practice what we’ve taken to calling Kat-Fu — running and leaping at each other and meeting in the air at 2-3 feet off the ground. They run through the house like it’s a race track, and make daring leaps to hang from the curtain four feet off the ground. (For that last action they are rewarded with a squirt of water from the handy spray bottle.) They are learning about NOT playing with the spider plant or getting up on the dining room table or kitchen counters (spray bottle again), and that even if they are only on the bed for half a second while bounding down from their perch on top of the bookcases, it STILL counts as being on the bed (also off limits). We are still working on how close they are allowed to get to the bird cages.
Ginger and Susan are a welcome addition to our family. The older cat is much happier (even if he does escape outside to get away from them at times), and so are the humans. (Suspect the Birds still vote “No!”) Yes, I get frustrated with what they’ve done to a couple of the plants, and with getting woke up at odd hours when they race around the house. But they make us laugh and smile, and there’s nothing sweeter than the purring of a kitten on your lap. Besides, they look so cute when they’re asleep. 🙂