Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Kids on the Block

Pippa the momma cat is a smart, resourceful young girl. She tore open a screen on a screened in porch and brought her babies inside where it was a little warmer and away from predators. The woman who owned the house called Feline Rescue. When I went to pick up the momma and five 5 week old kittens, the woman had found three other kittens that weren't Pippa's. I took them, too.

Pippa is a bit shy. She doesn't trust me. I'm hoping this is just temporary. It's only been a few days (I picked her up Friday night and it's just Tuesday morning). When I enter the room, she runs to her hiding spot under the dresser. Her kittens eventually follow her. Pippa is about 9 months old, just a baby herself. From what I've seen so far, she seems to be a good momma. She calls to her kittens and when I tried to remove one kitten that went to her, she tried to attack me.

The first kitten that came up to me had one eye crusted shut. She looked up at me and I believe she meant to say, "Excuse me, could you help me here?" I called her Pirate. Her sister climbed to my shoulder. I named her Parrot. And that's when I developed a theme - all names starting with P.

Pippa the momma
This is the best shot I have so far of momma Pippa. She's a beautiful brown tabby shorthair with fluffy cheeks.

When I brought them home, I immediately began bottle feeding the kittens. Pippa probably hadn't fed them in a couple of hours and probably wouldn't for a few more since she was too scared. I also brought in a plate of raw duck for Pippa. I left the room for a few minutes and when I returned, found that these kittens were party kittens. One of the youngest (and smallest) was smack dab in the middle of the plate of raw meat, gorging himself. Another kitten was in the middle of the dry kibble bowl, wolfing down everything and making yummy noises as she ate. I was so happy that even the three week old kittens were eating solid food. No bottle feeding for me! Unfortunately, these kittens are not fully litter box trained.

Pirate is one of the three week old kittens. She likes me and yet is starting to listen to the older kittens (who think I'm evil and must be hissed at).

Parrot is another one of the three week old kittens. She likes me and loves to sit on my lap. Right now, she's my favorite. Yes, I am admitting to having favorites. She follows me around the room. She will lay on her back on my lap, sucking on her paws. It's quite cute. She's actually purrs for me when I rub her belly.


Phineas is the smallest of the bunch, the last of the interloping three week old kittens. He also seemed to like me right off the bat. He's best friends with Parrot and the two are often wrestling and biting each other on the butt while they sit on my lap.

Pierce is one of Pippa's five kittens. He got his name after he bit my finger when I was bottle feeding him the first night. He was incredibly hungry and when I pulled the bottle away to angle it differently, he got a little huffy and lunged for the bottle, in the process chomping on my finger and drawing blood. He sort of likes me. He doesn't hiss at me quite as much as his siblings.

Peter thinks I'm evil. He runs to his momma when I come into the room.

Piper also thinks I'm evil but she doesn't run as fast as her brother Peter. She's also a little braver so she'll come out of hiding faster than her brother.

Pickle is independent. At not even one pound, she likes to climb to the top of the five foot tall cat tower, where she'll sleep by herself for hours.

And finally... Norman. Holy cow, is he a momma's boy! The first morning, I noticed he was puking so I tried to snag him so that I could administer medicine (sub-Q fluids and some Pepcid). Not only did he run away from me, but he ran right to his momma, who was hiding under the treadmill. I stuck my head under the treadmill to see him and his momma lunged at me, growling up a storm. I believe I saw Norman stick his tongue at me.

All kittens seem to get along. The five original kittens like to sleep together. The three interlopers like to sleep together. But they do all hang out together. I'm not quite certain if Pippa is feeding all of them but since they're eating solid food and gaining weight, I'm not too concerned (they get weighed daily).

Today is day four with them. Some like me. Some do not. All are gaining weight. Some need to learn to use the litter box. Pippa hides from me but I'm hoping she and I will be friends. It's too soon to tell.

Parrot on my lap

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Results Are IN!

What's better than not being FIV+? Being mis-diagnosed with FIV and not really having it at all.

That's right. Nadya is not FIV+. Not.

And how many tests does it take to confirm that? Seven. That's right. Seven.

When Nadya came into Feline Rescue, she had an FIV test performed. That test is the Elisa test and is the one most commonly used. It came back negative.

Fast forward to six weeks later, about two weeks after her kittens were born. Nadya's temp sky-rocketed to 105.5 (normal temp range is 100.4-102.5). She had another Elisa test performed. FIV could certainly be causing her mysterious - and sudden - illness. Test came back negative.

Fast forward to 2 more weeks later. Nadya's temp sky-rocketed yet again to 106! Another Elisa test was administered. Negative. A test called the Western Blot was performed. That test looks for other ailments, too (not just FIV). It came back negative.

Fast forward another 2 weeks, Nadya's temp goes back up to 105. This time, the sleeves have been pushed up. The gloves have been thrown on the floor. It's an all out war on combatting what ails Nadya. The mother oF all blood tests (read: expensive) - the PCR test - was performed. Positive. This is the only test that would come back positive but since  this was the most comprehensive, it was deemed to be the supreme diagnosis. Nadya had FIV.

Fast forward six weeks later: Nadya and kittens go in for their spay/neuter surgery. As standard procedure, this is the time when all kittens and momma get tested for FIV. Nadya (and the kittens) had the Elisa snap test performed. Everyone's - including Nadya's - test came back negative. Hooray for the kittens! Huh? For Nadya.

Our vet called the University to discuss the oddness of all these tests. The U was intrigued. They decided to do a case study on Nadya. One more - and final - test for Nadya. This one procedure used all three test types - Elisa, Western Blot, and PCR. All of them came back negative. The verdict: Nadya does not have FIV. I repeat: Nadya does not have FIV!!!!

Of course, never one to be satisfied, I then posed the question: Um, then why did that one test come back negative? Shoulder shrug from the vet. Perhaps that test was performed incorrectly. Perhaps it was tainted. Perhaps Nadya was stressed and threw a false positive. (For anyone who has watched the cam for the past four months, you know that Nadya DOES NOT GET STRESSED! She's one of the most easy going momma cats we've ever had at Feline Rescue. Ever. In the history of FR.) Okay, fine. I'll let that one go. But here's my next question: Um, what was really wrong with her then? Something had to be causing her scary high temps. Shoulder shrug. Perhaps she was stressed. Sigh. I guess we'll never know. She's perfectly fine now.

I have to believe that one of the reasons Nadya has yet to be adopted is because of her FIV+ status listing. I really hope word spreads that she is perfectly fine. A mis-diagnosis. A false positive. She is FIV NEGATIVE. There is nothing wrong with her. Nothing, that is, other than not having a forever home.

Nadya is one of the most easy going cats I have ever encountered. She is also one heck of a mother. She was amazingly protective of them. She was incredibly strict. And now that her kittens are older, she's a laid back momma who loves to play with her babies and even lets them nurse occasionally. She purrs all the time. She gives fabulous kisses. She adores being petted. She has a heart of gold. Surely you know someone who wants such a sweet, loving, and wonderful cat as Nadya, right? Spread the word. Nadya needs a home!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Those Wascally Kittens

Years ago, I had a cat that could turn on the TV and the stereo. I swore he had little cat raves while I was away at work because often the music would be really loud, blaring from the apartment. I'm sure my neighbors hated me and I highly doubt that they would have believed me if I had blamed the cat, even though it was true.

Kittens today go beyond that and are just as mischievous and are incredibly tech savvy. It's one thing to turn something on or off or turn up the volume. It's another thing entirely to change the password (or at least to put in a very good effort).

Even before these kittens were born, there was a camera on them, streaming video to the internet. There has always been tech equipment in their room. They've been around it their whole entire lives, even before they were born. And shortly after they learned to walk, they learned how to mess with this equipment.

At first, the kittens learned to block the camera. One of their giant nylon cubes always managed to sneak right in front of the camera. One might argue that the kittens were simply leaving their toys around the room and the cube coincidentally just happened to be in front of the camera. Of course, after well over a dozen times that the cube blocked the camera, one can safely say those rascally kittens were doing it on purpose.

The kittens moved on to actually turning the camera. They learned how to jump up on the camera stand and press a paw down on the camera, thus giving the audience a view of the carpet.

Turning the camera segued into knocking the camera completely over so that the view was of the ceiling.

I then learned to anchor the camera more securely. Frustrated with not being able to affect the camera angle, the kittens turned their attention to the laptop itself.

The kittens learned how to unplug the laptop. The cord that goes into the laptop is very touchy and simply bumping it can disconnect the power cord from the laptop. The disadvantage is that the laptop would automatically switch to battery and the kittens would have to wait for the battery to finally give out before the laptop would die, cutting off the broadcast. There had to be a faster method. Unplugging the router turned the wi-fi off completely, shutting down transmission of the broadcast. The cord is lightweight and can be unplugged quite easily. Occasionally, the laptop can pick up another wi-fi signal to keep broadcasting so even shutting off the router doesn't always do the trick. The kittens learned to turn off the power strip, which knocks out the router's wi-fi signal and two hours later, kills the laptop's power supply. Both units are gone when the power is shut off. Of course, the heater and the iPod are also on this power strip so turning it off makes the room cold and kills the party tunes.

One day, the kittens changed the orientation of the screen display on the laptop from landscape to portrait. I have no idea what they did to change that. It's incredibly difficult to look at a screen sideways while opening windows and typing. It's even harder to type when you turn the screen on an end so that you can see things upright. It took about 10 minutes for me to re-orient the screen display. Ten minutes of pure swearing. I think they were just testing me to see how tech savvy *I* was. The main thing slowing me down from fixing the problem was trying to understand how on earth the kittens achieved this task. No one button alone can do this. They had to press multiple keys together to do this. I'm pretty sure there were several kittens in on this scam.

This is when the kittens stepped up their game. I came in one day to find several screens open on the laptop. One, the user profile screen from the control panel. I think they were either trying to figure out how to partition another user or how to change my password to lock me out... The second window was a browser page about web scripting. I think they were trying to learn how to create their own site. And the final screen was a print screen, so that they could print out their findings to study later tonight.

I came in a day later to discover that the kittens were recording a video. I have yet to watch that video. I'm hoping it's a choreographed music/dance video, complete with back up singers. I'm pretty sure it's not. I'm pretty sure it's kittens holding up protest signs. I don't want to watch it. They're going to scare me even more.

The thought that perhaps it's not the kittens messing with the equipment but an actual human did occur to me. My husband rarely goes into this foster room so I'm pretty sure he's not the culprit. Plus, I caught one of the kittens (<cough> Zotz) red pawed. As I was cleaning litter boxes, I heard clicking. I looked up to find Zotz sitting in front of the laptop, typing away, with dozens of screens popping open onto the screen. It was like she was a savant. I stood there in awe of all the windows that were whizzing open and then the horror of it all struck me. A kitten was TYPING on the laptop and actual screens were opening as a result.

I realized it was only a matter of time before these kittens did some real damage to the laptop so I bought a cabinet and placed all of the electronics in there - router and laptop. I drilled holes so that the laptop wouldn't over heat in its enclosed setting.

So, in sum, here are the things the kittens have done with all the tech equipment:

  • Block the camera
  • Change the camera angle to point straight down
  • Knock over the camera so that it points at the ceiling
  • Unplug the laptop
  • Unplug the router
  • Shut off the power strip (which shuts off the router, laptop, iPod, and heater)
  • Change the laptop screen display orientation
  • Try to change my password or create another user
  • Read about web scripting
  • Try to print their findings
  • Record a video
  • Type
I have a pretty good idea who the instigator is. I think there are several culprits but I know who the main rebel is. Oh, I know him - and her - well. I'm onto them all.

Lest you think the kittens focus all their mischievous attention on the webcam, please note that they are equal opportunist rascals. They learned to open a drawer the other day. I found the contents of the drawer all over the room. They also, for some reason, feel the need to tear down the colorful paw prints that are hanging all over the room.

Oh, those wascally (rascally) kittens. How I love them! I wouldn't have it any other way. They keep me on my toes. They keep me laughing. They make me smile. They're such good kittens, rascally and all. I will miss them when they're gone.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kittens Ready for Adoption - All they Need is You!

All of the kittens and Nadya are now up for adoption. If you are interested in adopting any (or all!) of them, please call Joan with Feline Rescue at 651-705-6264. Kittens are $135; Nadya is $120. There is a discount if you adopt multiple kittens (2 for $250; 3 for $360)!

Here are the bios posted on Petfinder:

Biscoff is a happy and easy going little boy. He follows his foster caregiver all over the foster room, wagging his tail, hoping she'll sit down so he can crawl onto her lap and get petted. He's the charmer of his litter, one of the first to greet new people, new people who haven't yet grown weary of petting him and telling him how handsome he is. And boy, is he handsome! He's got the looks. He's got the heart. He's got the soft, fluffy fur. He's a good natured boy that would love to  sit on your lap for the rest of his life.  Biscoff is great friends with his fluffy brother Stroopy and would like to spend his days battling Stroopy for HeavyWeight Champion of the World (well, at least of your house).

Double Stuff is full of zest, pep, and gumption. Just ask him. He is the talker of his group, always chattering away. He has an opinion about everything. Everything. He's zany. He's got a lot of energy. He's full of curiosity. He's also a big ol' baby and craves attention. As long as you bring the attention to HIM. He's been known to lay in his bed, crying until his foster caregiver comes over to pet him. That's right. He makes HER come to HIM.  Double Stuff would love to spend his days with his momma Nadya. She understands him and is quick to comfort him when he encounters something that is scary or makes him nervous. He's also great pals with his sister Fudge Stripe and could definitely spend his days playing with her.

Fudge Stripe (also known as "Fudgie") is sweet, gentle girl who loves long naps curled up with her brother Double Stuff and her sister Zotz. When there's no sunbeam to warm up in, she uses her brother and sister as blankets. She also enjoys sneak attacks on unsuspecting siblings. She's the queen of flash wrestling. She's the yin and yang kitten. One part sweet; one part tough girl with a devilish plan. She loves to play.  Fudgie would love to go to her forever home with her warm blankets, er, siblings Double Stuff or Zotz (or both!).

Shortbread is lovingly referred to as "Shortie," a name that is befitting because she is the smallest of the litter. The smallest AND the bravest. She's kind, gentle, sweet, and wickedly smart. She could take over the world if she wanted to. But her kind heart lets her leave the world safe from any plans she could concoct. She loves to be held. When she was a little younger, she would tell her foster caregiver that she wanted to play by tapping the toy, running over to the foster caregiver, tapping her, and then running back to the toy. And true to her gentle nature, she makes sure only to snag the toy, not human fingers. She keeps her claws in when she can. She doesn't want to hurt anybody!  And lest you try to take advantage of this small, gentle, and unafraid little kitten, you will feel the dopey wrath of her bodyguard Zagnut, the biggest kitten of them all! (Actually only that second part is true - Zagnut IS huge and he is Shortie's best friend, but he would rather sleep away his troubles than attack anyone. He's a gentle giant. A gentle, goofy, loveable giant.)

Stroopy is all fluff. All fluff and food. All fluff and food and wrestling tactics. Lots of wrestling tactics. He's not always the Heavyweight Champion of the litter but he does certainly try! He'll settle for the supreme title of World Wrestling Federation Champ. He's known affectionately as "Super Stroopy." He's got the moves. He's got the skills. He's got the great big fluffy butt. Go ahead and tell him that. He won't care. While he loves to pounce on his siblings, he also loves to charm the ladies. He's a cuddler. When he's not karate-chopping his brother Biscoff. Stroopy would love to go to his forever home with his brother Biscoff, a wrestling partner that challenges him.

Zagnut is a giant. A gentle, sweet, unassuming giant with an enormous head and a heart that matches. He's a lover, not a fighter. His best friend is Shortie, the smallest of the litter. He curls up with her and helps her bathe those hard to reach places. He's a goofy boy that puts up with the endless kisses his human foster caregiver bestows upon him.  Zagnut is going to be one BIG boy. We think his daddy was a bobcat. To
balance out your house, Zagnut the giant should be adopted with his sister Shortie, the smallest kitten in the litter. That's Zagnut's best friend. If you're in the mood for THREE kittens, he'd also love to spend the rest of his days with his sister Zotz.

Zotz is the leader of the litter. She was the first to do so many things. She was the first to open her eyes, first to get vision (and was quite startled by the sight of her foster caregiver). She was the first to start walking. The first to leave the den. The first to eat solid food. The first to use the litter box.  The first to escape from the room... The first to purr. The first to give kisses (and like being kissed). Zotz loves to play, loves to be held, and loves to chirp. That's right. Chirp. Zotz is the first to also learn another language. Chirp.  Zotz is ready for her new adventure - life in her forever home. She would love to spend it with her friends Shortbread and her brother Zagnut (as a trio). If you're looking for just a duo, she makes an excellent pair with Fudge Stripe.

And finally, Nadya's profile:
It's hard for me to write a bio that fully expresses how wonderful Nadya is, particularly without crying.
Nadya is one of the sweetest cats I've ever encountered. She has a generous heart and soul. She truly needs to win a Mother of the Year award. Heck, she should win Cat of the Year.

For those unfamiliar with Nadya's story, let me start from the beginning. It's a long story but it will show you just how marvelous Nadya really is. It will also expose just how much I (her foster caregiver) love this cat, after only knowing her for four months. You will fall in love with her, too.

Nadya was a stay living in a colony in Minneapolis when she was brought to Feline Rescue. She was pregnant. Her coat was dull and full of dandruff. She didn't make a peep in the car ride to her foster home. Once in her new surroundings, she hid for about a half hour and then decided that she was over the shock of being inside. She purred for me, a deep, happy, rich purr. She flopped over, exposing her basketball sized belly, begging for belly rubs. She sat on my lap. She was so happy.

After almost three weeks of waiting, Nadya gave birth to six kittens, one of whom died shortly after birth. A day later, two orphaned kittens, only a week old, were in desperate need of a nursing momma as they refused to take to bottle feeding. I brought them into Nadya's room. She knew something was up. I took them out of the carrier and began to rub them with Nadya's blanket, to help disguise their foreign smell. They started crying. Nadya instantly jumped up next to me and began licking the kittens. Once they quieted down, she left. I placed them next to her kennel where the other kittens lay. The orphans began crying again. Nadya ran over, picked each of them up, and carried them into her kennel. They were her kittens from then on. Nadya now had seven kittens to take care of. Her heart grew bigger.

A week later, Nadya developed an incredibly high fever and stopped eating. She nursed her kittens dutifully but would not eat for herself. Her kittens came first, despite how she miserable she felt. She was put on antibiotics and after a week, the fever went down. A few days later, the fever returned. An FIV test was performed. It came back positive. More antibiotics and sub-Q fluids for Nadya for 10 days. A week after her medication regiment was over, her fever came back again. She and the kittens spent three nights at the vet clinic. She continued to nurse and bathe and potty her kittens even though she felt horrible (her ears were so hot!) and was hooked up to an IV.

Nadya is FIV positive. The jerk who knocked her up bit her (males tend to bite the scruff of the female's neck) and infected her with FIV. FIV is akin to kitty AIDS. It compromises her immune system and makes her more susceptible to illnesses. FIV is not the worst illness to contract.  FIV is not something to be feared. It is not that scary. Nadya should live a long life. The worst thing about this diagnosis is that it will scare off good people who want to adopt her. And that breaks my heart.

She is the most wonderful girl. She's had a hard life - the tip of one of her ears is missing due to frostbite; she was on the streets, fending for her life; and, oh, yeah, she has FIV. And despite it all, she purrs. She's happy. She loves to be petted. She loves to play with her kittens. She's a fabulous momma. She's an amazing cat. FIV doesn't define who she is. Nadya's heart does.

If you want to read more about FIV, here are some good sites:
http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-tips-shouldnt-fear-fiv-in-cats-feline-immunodeficiency-virus http://www.foha.org/index.php?id=92 

One thing to note:  She is safe around other cats (as long as they have a peaceful relationship). The only way this virus is transmitted is through a bite that breaks the skin. She cannot infect another cat through daily contact or saliva (from licking or drinking from the same water bowl).

Nadya deserves a good home. What she doesn't deserve is FIV. She's an absolutely fabulous girl. I can't stress it enough. She's so sweet. She has a heart of gold. She deserves someone whose heart matches hers.  After eating good food for the past few months, her coat is shiny, silky, glossy, smooth, and fabulous. Come meet Nadya and see just how beautiful she is, inside and out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The End is Near (The Good End)

On the eve of the kittens' third month birthday (which is 7/2), I am both sad and happy. The kittens will soon get posted on Petfinder (and Feline Rescue's site - http://www.felinerescue.org) and should get adopted shortly after that. I'm so happy that they're getting closer to finding their forever homes. They're such great kittens and I'm eager for others to see that, too. I'm sad because they'll be leaving me. But that's all part of fostering and as soon as they get adopted, the next crew will come in.

In the Feline Rescue world, all of our cats get spayed/neutered and tested for FeLV/FIV. For kittens, this happens when they are three months old as long as they're three pounds.  If they're three pounds before they're three months old, they have to wait until they are 3 months old. If they're three months but not three pounds, they have to wait until they reach three pounds. For litters, if there are a couple that are behind in weight, they all wait (and the larger kittens thank the smaller kittens for prolonging their surgery date).

Last week, I ran out of Nadya's favorite canned food. She can be a bit picky. She ate but not nearly like she normally does. Because she wasn't eating as much, she also wasn't nursing as much. A couple of the kittens lost several ounces. Stroopy, who was the largest of Nadya's kittens, surprisingly took a nosedive. Biscoff seized the opportunity to climb to the top of the weight board and is now the largest kitten. Shortie, the smallest kitten, also lost several ounces, ounces she couldn't afford to lose. Now with the preferred food fully stocked, the kittens are gaining weight - almost faster than the weeks before. Stroopy doesn't like someone beating him and even though Biscoff gained a lot and Stroopy lost a lot, Stroopy is rapidly catching up. Can someone say piggy?

For Nadya's kittens, both Fudge Stripe and Shortbread are not quite three pounds. Fudge Stripe weight 2 pounds, 14 and a half ounces. She very well may weigh three pounds come tomorrow (7/2). Shortie, after rebounding from her weight loss, is at 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Hopefully by next Wednesday, she will weigh three pounds.

The kittens are forming some interesting pairs. For awhile, it seemed as though the kittens switched alliances every day. They never curled up with the same kitten or played with the same kitten two days in a row. For the past few weeks, it does seem as though some bonds are forming. Shortie and Zagnut often are in the same bed together. Zagnut likes to bathe Shortie, too. Shortie is the smallest; Zagnut is the largest kitten. One might think that he's her protector or body guard but I think she likes him simply because he's a very mellow guy. Double Stuff and Fudge Stripe are also often together at the top of the cat tower. I believe they've bonded over their love of heights, towering over everyone else. That pairing is quite interesting as Double Stuff is the most needy of the kittens. He loves attention. Fudgie, on the other paw, is the one that hates me (because of the whole abscess incident, which naturally is my fault). She is skeptical of human interaction. Double Stuff craves it. Hopefully his zest for attention will rub off on Fudgie. The two fuzzies Biscoff and Stroopy often play together. Biscoff is good hearted and amazingly sweet. Stroopy is a rough and tumble kitten who plays hard. Both love to be held and petted. Zotz plays with everyone... and no one. She's often curled up with her brother Zagnut or Shortie (or both since they like to nap together). She's quite good at entertaining herself. She also loves human attention. Shortie, Zotz, and Biscoff follow me around the room, begging for attention. Double Stuff cries until the attention comes to him (did I mention he's a bit lazy?).

Tonight (7/1), the kittens will have a photo shoot with a professional photographer KrisKreativ (she photographed them when they were 6 weeks old). In about a week (a day after their spay/neuter surgeries), the kittens will then be posted on Petfinder/FelineRescue.org, ready for adoption. They should be posted by 7/11. Adoptions will start soon!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Guest Hosts

Over the next few weeks, you'll be seeing a lot of new feet. Human feet. The kittens will have visitors, lots and lots of visitors. These are not adoption visits but socialization visits.

A few days ago, my family stopped by to meet the kittens. The kittens were not enthusiastic about meeting new people. They scattered and hid under the treadmill. 

Although the smallest of the bunch, Shortie was the bravest. After an initial scamper away, she quickly returned. While she wasn't too interactive with my sister, her husband, my nephew, and my father, she wasn't afraid, either. She amused herself, playing with toys. 

After a bit, some kittens ventured out but did not stay out for long. Double Stuff found himself out in the open, darting about, trying to find a place to hide. The longer he searched, the more panicked he became. He soon decided he could escape the room, even though the door was shut. He spotted the gap under the door. He made a beeline towards the door, ramming his head under the door, trying to slither out to the other side. But his head is bigger than he expected. And the gap isn't as wide as he gauged. He quickly became stuck. And then the panic REALLY set in. With his head wedged under the door, he began screaming and his panic manifested in hissing. Nadya thought another cat was attacking him from the other side of the door and flew into super protective momma mode. She launched herself at the door, puffed up and hissing herself, trying to attack whatever was on the other side. Double Stuff's hysteria intensified. My sister ran over and tried to pull him out but since he didn't know her, he was terrified even more. I intervened and tried pulling him out but he was firmly wedged under the door. I had to open the door to free his head.

One bright thing that came out of this scary incident - all of the kittens came out of hiding (many were all puffed up) due to the commotion. They were gawkers on the scene.  

So.... because we can't have Double Stuff ramming his head under a door every time a stranger comes into the room, I have arranged people playdates for the kittens. There will be new people coming over a couple of times a week to sit with the kittens, play with the kittens, and just be a person. 

On Monday (6/23), the kittens met the wonderful Peggy, who is also a foster caregiver for Feline Rescue. She came bearing treats. As I walked into the room, all of the kittens ran to greet me. But when they saw Peggy behind me a second later, they all scattered, hiding under the treadmill again. Shortie stayed. She wasn't afraid! She's a tough and brave little girl. 

Nadya was incredibly friendly. She purred and rubbed all over Peggy. She was also quite interested in the treats. Moments later, Stroopy came out of hiding. He was afraid and kept darting for cover but the allure of treats resonated with him. Biscoff was the next to venture out. Both kept fighting their fear, pulling their braveness up by the bootstraps. They'd sit out in the open for a second, shyly duck back behind something, come out a second later, nervously take a few steps forward, until they reached the point where they could be comfortable being visible as long as Peggy didn't make any sudden movements or, heaven forbid, try to touch them. 

Zotz watched from afar. She came out from under the treadmill, walked to the back of it (the furthest point away), and peered out at us. We could only see her eyes and her ears. Zagnut crawled out from under the treadmill a few times but ducked back under after a moment or two. He forgot to tuck his giant paws under so we could see them sticking out. Double Stuff knows his name so when I would call out to him, he'd peek out. 

After about a half hour, Nadya walked over to the treadmill and chattered at the kittens underneath, as if scolding them. They all came out of hiding. Momma told them to come out so they did! But none wanted to approach Peggy. Double Stuff clung to his momma, hugging her and begging for licks of comfort. 

I got out a wand toy. That did the trick. Biscoff wanted to show his new best friend all of his graceful moves. Zagnut just wanted to steal the toy. Even Fudgie, who hates me, came over to play with the wand toy. 

Interestingly enough, Zotz, who was the first to do everything and is incredibly adventurous, was one of the last to fully approach Peggy. Double Stuff kept needing his momma to reinforce his courage. He would dart back to her, get his head licked, and then he would venture a couple steps further. 

After the hour long session, Peggy was able to see, interact, AND touch all seven kittens. She even held Fudgie. Biscoff draped himself over her feet, keeping close to his favorite toy and the woman with treats. 

The next visitor is scheduled for Wednesday (6/25), a little after 5:00pm Minnesota time. I'm hoping that with each new visitor, the time it takes for them to come out of hiding is shorter to the point where they don't even hide. There is hope. 

In other news, the kittens will be three months old on 7/2. This is a momentous date because in the Feline Rescue world, this marks the spay/neuter age (with the caveat that they are three pounds; this is also the time when they're FIV tested). And once they're spayed/neutered, they can be adopted. Two of the kittens (Fudgie and Shortie) are not three pounds yet. They're just a tish over two and a half pounds now. Since kittens typically gain about 4 ounces a week, this means neither will be three pounds by next week. I had tentatively scheduled their spay/neuter surgery for 7/7 knowing that the smaller kittens wouldn't be ready on their actual 3 month birthday, however, it looks as though it will need to be pushed out until at least 7/9. 

Every day with the kittens brings something new. They're learning. They're growing. 

Monday, June 16, 2014


Part of the job of a foster caregiver is to prepare the kittens for, well, life in general. This means everyday household occurrences and noises - like the dishwasher, cooking dinner, dogs barking, the vacuum cleaner, climbing stairs. The kittens' room is like a fortress. It's in the basement (you may have noticed the cinder block walls), tucked far away from the hustle and bustle that goes on upstairs. While this was perfect for Nadya when she was pregnant and then later when she was a new momma to minimize stressful impacts, it is now a little too perfect. You may have heard the music in the background of the kittens' room and wondered if the kittens were having a rave. No, the music is for educational purposes. A few weeks ago, as I was sitting in the kittens' room, my stomach growled. The kittens freaked out and flew into hiding. A few days later when the same thing happened and was met by the same response, I realized that the kittens were overprotected. Tucked in the basement, away from every day noises, their room was a little too quiet, a little too serene. Instead of creating kittens who were at peace, the opposite had occurred. These guys were neurotic over the slightest noise.

I brought out the iPod containing a playlist of soothing, tranquil selections (Muzak style songs, lullabies, and classical), used ages ago for my own cat who was afraid of thunderstorms (but is now fine). The first time I turned on the stereo, the kittens scattered, which definitely reinforced my point. After a week, I added more peppy songs, mixing them into the more serene selection. The volume also varies. Sometimes it's quite soft; sometimes it's rather loud. The unexpected volume changes help mimic every day life.

Once the kittens seemed unfazed by the music, I decided to add TV noises - car chases, gun fire, dogs barking, doorbells. For an hour a day, they get TV time. If you're wondering what they're watching that would give them scary noises consistently, it would be old episodes of the TV series Charmed (starring Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano). The kittens seem to be over their fear of noises. My tummy can growl all it wants now. :-)

In other news, Double Stuff is no longer afraid of climbing down from the top of the cat tower!! Finally! He spent a good 10 minutes climbing up, climbing down, climbing up, climbing down with reckless abandonment one evening (and almost falling off in the process as he got cocky).

Finally, all seven kittens have had their first distemper shot. The five "cookie" kittens (Biscoff, Stroopy, Double Stuff, Fudge Stripe, and Shortbread) received their first one on Friday (6/13). All did very well and didn't even make a peep! Shortbread, who is the littlest, delayed the date of the shot as she was not quite two pounds when the kittens turned eight weeks old (Feline Rescue requires that the kittens be 2 pounds and 8 weeks old). The other kittens thanked her. Their spay/neuter surgery will also most likely be delayed, too, due to weight issues. If projection holds true, neither Fudge Stripe nor Shortbread will be the required three pounds at 12 weeks old (which is 7/2).

I have more exercises planned for the kittens. They still need to be introduced to the vacuum cleaner. They need to experience climbing stairs. They need to be in a kitchen during dinner preparation. They need to be in the living room as members of the household scurry about doing every day things. They also need to meet my cats... Nadya is still in protective momma cat mode so I'll have to arrange a meeting that does not include Nadya. One of my cats is the official foster socializer. Howard the cat is a wonderful surrogate poppa. He is incredibly patient with kittens (I usually get orphans) and loves to bathe with them. He's excellent at teaching a kitten how to play.

In a few short weeks, the kittens will be ready for adoption. I have just a little time left to teach them everything they're supposed to know before they leave me. I hope they all graduate from kittening school!